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Copyright: Copyright and MOOCS

Introduction

Arizona State University is partnering with edX to offer the Global Freshman Academy, a program that offers full university freshman level courses for credit. This is what is known as a MOOC - a Massively Open Online Course - meaning that anyone around the world can take the class for free, online. The Global Freshman Academy has the added advantage of offering students the opportunity to receive full college credit for a course, provided they pay a registration fee, which they may choose to do after passing the course.

Because the classes are open to anyone, and purely offered online, some copyright exceptions that we usually rely on for instruction purposes do not apply. Another limitation is that you cannot link to online resources provided by the ASU Library, which are only available to students with an ASURITE ID and password. Here, we'll talk about some best practices for evaluating course materials if you are teaching a MOOC.

So what CAN I use?

Link out: It is preferable to link out to files if they are available on the web. Sharing a link to any resource that is freely available online is generally acceptable, however, there are some accessibility issues to consider. For example, YouTube videos may not be available to students in certain countries, or a personal website might not have the capability to handle the increased traffic caused by thousands of students trying to access it at once. 

Public Domain: these works are not protected by copyright.

Creative Commons: Creative Commons licenses tell you in advance what you're permitted to do with the work, without having to ask for permission from the copyright owner. As long as you comply with the terms of the license, you can use the work in your class. Just be aware of the terms - for example, something that has a CC-BY-SA license requires that you have the ability to assign that same license to your class. It's unlikely that you will have that option for a GFA course.

Fair Use: Fair Use can apply to MOOC courses, but in a more limited fashion than in more traditional educational environments. This is probably where the majority of your decisions will lie, and will need to be determined on a case by case basis. Review the Fair Use tab for more detailed information on making your own Fair Use evaluations. For edX courses, it may be helpful to know that edX is a non-profit organization. Additionally, here are some general questions to ask yourself when you are evaluating material for your course:

  1. How does this material help me to make my point?
  2. Do I need this particular work to make my point, or is there a potential (preferably open access) substitute?
  3. How much of the material do I need to use? Would it be possible to use only part of it?
  4. Is my use transformative? Have I made the link between the work and the point I wish to make clear?

Get Permission: Sometimes, getting permission from the copyright holder will be the only or best recourse. The Copyright Advisory Office at Columbia University Libraries has a great overview of procedures for asking a copyright owner permission to use a work. There are other resources in the Copyright Searching and Permission box below.

Attribution: In all cases, as a matter of good scholarly practice, you should acknowledge the original source in your slides or other class materials. If including attribution on the particular slide or at the time when the work is used would harm the flow of the instruction, acknowledgment may appear at the end of an individual lecture

Guidelines

  • Short quotations from the literature of a discipline that are incorporated into a lecture and/or the accompanying slides are clearly fair use and do not require permission.
  • Distribution of more text than a long quotation should probably only be done with the permission of the publisher.
    • Where the instructor is also the author of the work being distributed, the publisher is more likely to grant permission.
    • Whenever possible, a recommendation to purchase the book from which an excerpt is taken, and a link through which students can make such a purchase, will also encourage the publisher to grant permission.

These guidelines represent a judgment about when fair use in a MOOC course is most defensible. In many cases, the best decision might be to simply remove third-party copyrighted content that is not essential to the pedagogy of a course.

--From Guidelines for using copyrighted material in Coursera MOOCs

  • When the use of illustrations, graphs and figures is integral to the point of the lesson, and the picture or figure is subjected to commentary and critical assessment, the case for fair use is quite strong. If such selected material comes from diverse sources and is not too numerous, permission need not be sought.
  • In many cases, a licensed substitute (such as a picture carrying a Creative Commons license or dedicated to the public domain) can be found for those pictures that depict a specific subject but where a particular picture of that subject is not required. 
  • When the purpose of the picture is merely to break up the text in PowerPoint slides or illustrate them, these images can often be removed in order to reduce the burden of clearing copyright without harming the experience of an online, asynchronous course.

These guidelines represent a judgment about when fair use in a MOOC course is most defensible. In many cases, the best decision might be to simply remove third-party copyrighted content that is not essential to the pedagogy of a course.

--From Guidelines for using copyrighted material in Coursera MOOCs

  • Use of musical or sound recordings should be evaluated carefully and on a case-by-case basis.
  • Whenever possible, it is preferable to link out to a sound file if one is available on the web. In those cases, students would be directed to follow the link, and then return to the lecture. This is especially appropriate when the entirety of a musical work must be heard before the lecture will continue. Incorporating significant amounts of a musical or sound recording into a lecture increases the chances that the course will be subject to a "take down" notice.
  • The case for fair use is much stronger when the discussion of what students are hearing is to be intermingled with that sound file. In those cases, where the sound file will be interrupted by discussion before it ends, the teaching method itself lends strength to the fair use case. Sound files treated in this way, that are no longer than is needed to make the pedagogical point, can be regarded as fair use for which permission is not needed.
  • When a substantial sound file, which will not be intermingled with discussion, is incorporated into the lecture, rather than linked to, permission should be sought.

These guidelines represent a judgment about when fair use in a MOOC course is most defensible. In many cases, the best decision might be to simply remove third-party copyrighted content that is not essential to the pedagogy of a course.

--From Guidelines for using copyrighted material in Coursera MOOCs

  • Whenever possible, it is preferable to link out to a video. In those cases, students would be directed to follow the link, view the video, and then return to the lecture. This is especially appropriate when the entirety of a video clip must be viewed before the lecture will continue. Incorporating significant chunks of video into a lecture increases the chances that the course will be subject to a "take down" notice.
  • The case for fair use is much stronger when the discussion of what students are seeing in the video clip is to be intermingled with that clip. In those cases, where the clip will be interrupted by discussion before it ends, the teaching method itself lends strength to the fair use case. Clips treated in this way, and still no longer than is needed to make the pedagogical point, can be regarded as fair use for which permission is not needed.
  • When a substantial clip of video, which will not be intermingled with discussion, is incorporated into the lecture, rather than linked to, permission should be sought.
  • New! In 2015, the Library of Congress created a DMCA exemption for MOOC faculty from accredited nonprofit educational institutions who create short clips for use in their courses, allowing them to copy clips from protected DVDs, Blu-Ray discs, and streaming videos so long as the course or lecture requires “close analysis” of the clip. The MOOC, however, must be offered by a nonprofit organization, and access to the clips must be restricted to enrolled students. The MOOC must further prevent dissemination of the clips outside of the course. (see Fair Use, MOOCs, and the Digital Millennium Copyright Act: Frequently Asked Questions for more details)

These guidelines represent a judgment about when fair use in a MOOC course is most defensible. In many cases, the best decision might be to simply remove third-party copyrighted content that is not essential to the pedagogy of a course.

--From Guidelines for using copyrighted material in Coursera MOOCs

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Anali Perry
Subjects: Copyright, Scholarly Communication, Digital Repositories, Scholarly Publishing, Impact & Metrics, Open Access and Open Education.
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