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8 September 2009
Face to Face Media
Face to Face Media
John Pungente, SJ
Director, Jesuit Communication Project
President, Canadian Association of Media Education Associations (CAMEO)
The Jesuit Communication Project: A Word from John Pungente
This presentation is endorsed by the Canadian Association of Media Education Associations (CAMEO) and its provincial members
British Columbia Association of Media Education (BCAME)
Alberta Association for Media Awareness (AAMA)
Manitoba Association for Media Literacy (MAML)
Association for Media Literacy (AML) (Ontario)
AML — The Association for Media Literacy
Association for Media Education Quebec (AMEQ)
Media Literacy Nova Scotia (MLNS)
Association for Media Literacy New Brunswick (A-4-ML NB)
Association for Media Literacy Newfoundland and Labrador (AMLNL)
Gary Marcuse is a writer and producer of documentaries for broadcast television, and classroom resources for educational use in K–12 and post secondary classrooms, since 1988. He is also a member of the Writer's Guild of Canada and the Documentary Organization of Canada. For more than 20 years his company, Face to Face Media, has been collaborating with educators, producers, publishers, broadcasters and the National Film Board in the creation of classroom video resources in the areas of global education, First Nations studies, media literacy, sociology and psychology. He is a former programming executive for CBC television and the recipient of the Gemini Canada award sponsored by the Department of Canadian Heritage for his documentary The Mind of a Child.
John J. Pungente, SJ, has worked in media education for over 35 years. He has co-authored Media Literacy: A Resource Guide (1989), Meet the Media (1990), More than Meets the Eye: Watching TV Watching Us (1999) and Finding God in the Dark: Taking the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius to The Movies (2004). He has contributed to international journals and books on media education. He has degrees in English, Film, and Theology as well as two honorary doctorates for his work in media education.
Mr Marcuse and Fr. Pungente have been collaborating on the creation of media literacy resources since 1997, including the award-winning collection Scanning Television, a collection of videos and a teaching guide widely used in media education across Canada. They are also in the final stages of developing an on-line university level credit course Understanding Media Literacy: Inside Plato's Cave for in-service and pre-service teachers in Canada. This course will be offered by a Canadian university in 2010. It will include a wide array of media resources provided on-line as a key element in the curriculum.
Media literacy was first introduced in Ontario schools in the 1980s. The Ontario Media Literacy Resource Guide defines the practice succinctly:
Media literacy is concerned with the process of understanding and using the mass media. It is also concerned with helping students develop an informed and critical understanding of the nature of the mass media, the techniques used by them, and the impact of these techniques. More specifically, it is education that aims to increase students' understanding and enjoyment of how the media work, how they produce meaning, how they are organized and how they construct reality. Ultimately, media literacy education must aim to produce students who have an understanding of the media that includes a knowledge of their strengths and weaknesses, biases and priorities, role and impact, and artistry and artifice. Media literacy is a life skill. 1
The Ontario Media Literacy Resource Guide
Media education is now mandated by all provincial ministries of education at the K–12 level. Currently there is little, if any systematic training of teachers in media literacy, and where training is available, the training is hampered by limited access to media materials that are be needed to develop the critical skills of teachers, and when those teachers return to the classroom, they are faced with a shortage of relevant materials for the students. Copyright legislation has a key role to play in the training of teachers and the education of students as informed, critically aware citizens and as sophisticated users and consumers of media.
The classroom resources we have developed for media literacy education have included a substantial amount of material made possible by relying on the Fair Dealing provisions of the existing Copyright legislation which allows that "Fair dealing for the purpose of research or private study does not infringe copyright," and, in Sub-sections 29.1 and 29.2, adds the additional categories of "criticism," "review," and "news reporting" to the list of exceptions.
We frequently seek and obtain copyright clearances to allow us to duplicate and distribute videos and excerpts of videos and other media for classroom use. At times, however, we choose to rely on Fair Dealing in lieu of copyright clearance because
In our experience media producers, teachers and educational institutions in Canada are wary of exercising their right to utilize media materials for critical study and review for fear of transgressing copyright laws. They also frequently face cumbersome and restrictive institutional guidelines that have been framed out of caution and concern about potential lawsuits or injunctions.
The situation in the United States is noticeably different. There, by utilizing the broader, more clearly stated and more expansive provisions of the US copyright legislation governing Fair Use, educators and producers have created Codes of Best Practices for use by documentary film producers and by educators. This allows both teachers and producers a high degree of confidence that they are exercising their rights on behalf of their students and institutions and stimulates the use of media materials in the classroom. This more robust approach creates a more dynamic environment for media education and reflects a better balance between the competing needs of copyright holders (and creators generally) and educators. 2 It also brings more relevant and timely material into the classroom.
The prevailing atmosphere of confusion and uncertainty in Canada, by contrast, creates a chilling effect on use of media materials in the classroom. Both teachers and producers of classroom resources are reluctant to use the provisions of the current copyright act for fear of sharp letters from lawyers threatening litigation or stern memos from their school administration.
Before the Code of Best Practices was created in the United States, a similar fog of worry and confusion surrounded the question of copyright. As summarized by the Center for Social Media, this confusion is costly.
(T)he fundamental goals of media literacy education—to cultivate critical thinking and expression about media and its social role—are compromised by unnecessary copyright restrictions. As a result of poor guidance, counterproductive guidelines, and fear, teachers use less effective teaching techniques, teach and transmit erroneous copyright information, fail to share innovative instructional approaches, and do not take advantage of new digital platforms. 3
Center for Social Media
While the situation has improved dramatically in the USA, the situation in Canada remains compromised.
Educators make frequent use of documentaries in the classroom, but many documentary producers and writers are themselves confused, anxious and aversive when it comes to utilizing the Fair Dealing provisions of the Act. This situation is worsened by the cautious position taken by insurance companies that provide Errors and Omissions (E&O) insurance, as is normally required by broadcasters. Insurers may decline to cover materials where the inclusion is based on Fair Dealing. This forces producers to remove the material or remain exposed to objections and claims from copyright holders.
Here again, in the US, the situation has been greatly clarified and the confidence of writers, producers, and insurance companies has been greatly increased by the development of the Best Practices codes for filmmakers. According to the Center for Social Media, all four major insurers in the US now routinely provide insurance coverage for projects incorporating material that adheres to Best Practices for Fair Use guidelines 4 This ensures a freer flow of independent documentaries and other media into the classroom.
Copyright legislation should be updated and clarified and the provisions for educational used greatly clarified in order to empower teachers to provide the courses that the provincial ministries are calling for, and to meet the needs of their students. Media literacy should be a fundamental part of Canadian education in the 21st century.
The study of dynamic and transient culture requires liberal access to short excerpts of cultural works, on short notice, in educational settings as well as in the media. Where original works are used for entertainment purposes, they must be paid for. Where they are used for critical study and review, a generous atmosphere supporting these activities should be actively engendered. Measures to that end would include:
The proposed law currently allows the Governor in Council to make regulations that address the needs of educators and others who may be faced with TMs that shield media materials from scrutiny. As provided in the proposed legislation
We submit that the need to be able to "effect criticism, review, news reporting, commentary, teaching, scholarship or research" is so clearly evident that either the right to do so should be written into the law, or a parallel set of regulations clarifying this matter should be advanced by the government along with this bill.
The emphasis placed on TMs in the legislation leaves the impression that the new copyright legislation has been written in this stringent fashion in order to conform to the US Digital Millenium Copyright Act. If this is true, then the provisions for regulation by the Governor in Council appear to be a kind of escape clause that would allow Canada to create some safeguards for our cultural and educational needs.
But if this is true, it would appear that the Canadian legislation is suffering from an excess of caution. While American media producers and educators enjoy a broad range of rights and freedoms under the Fair Use principles, Canadian producers and educators apparently have to wait for the Governor in Council to issue regulations that may mitigate the threat of prosecution. If this is the principal way that we are going to be informed about our rights as educators, the regulations should be broadly inclusive, and they should be issued promptly. A draft set of regulations would greatly increase educator's confidence in the bill.
A proper balance between the needs of copyright holders and the rights of educators and students is essential in order to educate critically aware, media literate citizens. Ready access to critical study of Canadian cultural products is also essential in order for students to respect, study, comprehend and create Canadian culture. If Canada's laws remain confusing, and access to media productions is more restricted than equivalent US laws, teachers and producers will be forced to use American media productions instead of Canadian examples.
Specifically this requires
Students educated in critical thinking and media literacy, who have been exposed to the widest range of Canadian examples, in a timely way, will be best prepared to create innovative new work.
As suggested in response to questions 1 and 2, above, the legislation has an instrumental role to play in creating the context for media studies and media literacy generally.
The absence of clear Fair Dealing guidelines and exemptions, as compared to the US Fair Use provisions, also put Canadian producers at a competitive disadvantage relative to US producers when it comes to the creation of any kind of media or classroom resources where Fair Dealing or Fair Use may be invoked.
A media savvy workforce will be a competitive workforce. Steps outlined above can contribute to this.
A media savvy workforce, with critical thinking skills, accustomed to the critical study of the best (and worst) Canadian and international examples will be able to compete, and to project Canadian values and examples to the world.
2See, for example, the publications of the Center for Social Media including Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Media Literacy Education and Fair Use in Media Education FAQ Center for Social Media (Return to text.)