September 2013

By Mike Wolbers

A panel about copyright and its constitutional implications was held by the Society of Collegiate Journalists on Sept. 17 in the University Ballroom in honor of Constitution Day. The panel featured professors Bryan Murley and Richard Wandling.

Murley, an associate professor of journalism, said he believes most students do not understand the basics of copyright law.

“From some of the questions asked by students at the panel, I feel as if students do not understand that you cannot just grab things off the internet,” said Murley. “Once you create something, you own the copyright to it and you would not want someone else taking your creation and claiming it as their own.”

While learning about copyright laws is important for journalism majors, it is also important for artists and musicians, said Murley.

“Even George Harrison lost a copyright case in his day, so I believe it is important for all creators of content to be aware of these laws,” said Murley. “People who hone their craft and create content for you to enjoy should not have their creation stolen and have someone else take it for their own.”

Murley said in some cases copyright law can be not so cut and dry. One such area are YouTube music covers.

“There was an update to the copyright law in 2000,” said Murley. “But even that was before YouTube, Facebook and twitter. So sometimes there are areas that are not so cut and dry.”

Downloading off the internet is fine as long as you go through the right channels and download them legally, said Murley.

“All students should learn about copyright laws because it is against the student code of conduct to take something that is someone else’s and claim it as your own,” said Murley.

Dr. James Tidwell, Journalism Department chair, who has participated in the panel in past years, said students who illegally download music need to be careful.

“The music industry is pretty aggressive in terms of prosecuting people, they will take a little old lady to court in the drop of a hat,” said Tidwell. “Students need to make sure they have permission to use something before using it.”

The University is required by federal law each year to celebrate Constitution Day.

“It is a good time for journalism students to create the freedom wall and start the panel,” said Tidwell. “It is also a good way for students to build knowledge.”