Thoughts About Copyright Hurdles and Importing


I just thought I would share a perhaps ‘out-there’ thought that’s been bouncing around in my head. Steve or Mark, if you or any LingQ staff members had any reactions to this, I would love to hear what you have to say.

I’ve been using LingQ for some time and appreciate it as a tool for reading practice and combined listening and reading practice. I think it’s great that there’s a public library for each language of shared material and things that would otherwise fall under ‘public domain’. This is good. It’s good and I would be pleased to see it continue to be supported.

I’m probably not alone but for me one of the more exciting additions has been the importer extension and being able to import things from Netflix and YouTube. This has allowed me to use LingQ more easily with personally-interesting, authentic material. Probably 97 – 99% of the time, the material I want to work with falls into this use situation. This doesn’t mean the library of publicly-shared materials isn’t good or worthwhile, but this is just how it is for me. It has been truly driving my use of LingQ.

I often feel regret that I can’t share these materials, because well… copyright… Wouldn’t it be great if these things could be shared with other LingQ users, if we could get automated recommendations (from Netflix, Youtube, and more) based on tags or activity that other users have shared. Maybe even have the option to leave comments and reviews for other users…

Copyright laws are probably not going to present a change or alternative to language learners in the near future to allow this to better. I am supportive of the content creators themselves and appreciate that copyright is imperfect solution for a real need to protect one’s work.

The thought occurred to me, “What if instead of trying to find ways around it and being limited by it, what if LingQ were able to develop tools to allow us to simply share the activity and location of the source?” If even importing for private-educational-use-only raised arguments from the owners of some content, what if LingQ had tools to allow users to visit and study on the site of the content creator. Not unlike the Chrome extension, ‘Language Learning With Netflix’ where you practice on the site of the source material itself. Then afterwards you could still import your activity (number of hours listened, words read, etc.) or lingqs created etc., as there’s no copyright on your personal study activity.

Anyhow, as for sharing your activity, I think that could be do-able. Perhaps there could be an additional tab (‘links’ or ‘external links’). Users could share something that they read, listened to or watched, if they wish. It could be categorized by languages, have tags and eventually also an automated recommendation system (it could also give recommendations from the publicly-shareable library, too, but I digress) based on your personal activity. Maybe it could be similar to sharing a video that you watched on Facebook, that is, it might create an appealing-looking screen capture (that falls within fair-use), a title, and of course an external link directing the LingQ user to the source material on the original site. But none of the copyright-protected material is shared—just a tip that it exists and where it can be found, so ‘no foul’ and no infringement.

Any website could provide a tab of links to external sites, but I found myself thinking, “Wow, I wonder if LingQ would implement something like that someday.” LingQ already has an existing user base; users who are always looking for more materials. LingQ already has great staff members with a passion for language learning. LingQ already has a copyright on the perfect name for a site that could include a tab of ‘links’.

Anyhow, I just wanted to share the thought.