Thursday, March 24, 2011

Copyright in an online course

Online learning has made the distribution of information more easily accessible. This is in turn, has created an increase in the amount of plagiarized assignments being submitted, and the lack of credit to outside sources. The 2003 National Survey of Student Engagement indicated that 87 percent of the students who completed the survey at least sometimes included information from online reports and sources without giving the original authors credit for their work (Waterhouse & Rogers, 2004).
Establishing an intellectual property policy would allow the students to understand and avoid copying work without providing proper citations. The particular institution has the right to assign sanctions to the violation of this policy. Students must understand the severity of their actions, and that there are consequences associated with them.
The TEACH Act provides the online colleges and universities with specific rules and guidelines that must be followed in order to not infringe copyright laws. This Act requires the use of a copyright policy, provide copyright information to faculty and students, course materials must include a copyright notice indicating that it cannot be further distributed without permission of the institution, and the transmission of information is solely for students who are enrolled in the course (Crews, 2002).
The guidelines for fair use remain the same for distance learning, as for on ground courses. Therefore, the purpose, nature, and effect on the market are all considerations in order to evaluate a situation for fair use. Waterhouse & Rogers (2004) suggest developing learning management systems that limit the access to copyrighted material while enrolled in the course. Also, to only allow students to have access to the course material only during the duration of the course. Overall, it is the faculty’s responsibility to educate and detect cases of plagiarism, and violation of copyright laws.

Crews, K. D. (2002, September 30). New copyright law for distance education: the meaning and importance of the TEACH Act. American Library Association, 1-12. Retrieved from
Waterhouse, S., & Rogers, R. O. (2004). The importance of policies in e-learning instruction. Educause, 3, 28-39. Retrieved from

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Copyrighted Multimedia

The principal mission of higher education is to further and disseminate knowledge (Desmarais, 2001). In this effort, educators use a variety of methods in order to educate their students. This requires the understanding of copyright laws and their applicability to education. Using copyrighted information for educational purposes does not automatically make it fair use. In fact, the purpose is only one of four factors that are taken into consideration. Among them are: use, nature of the work, amount of material copied, and the effect on the market.
Educators can use multimedia productions developed for educational purposes for up to two years after the first use with the class (Desmarais, 2001). After this time, it requires permission of use of the original authors, even if intended for educational purposes. There are also limitations as to how the portions of media that can be used. Up to 10% or 1000 words, whichever comes first is the limit on text material. Up to 10% or three minutes is the limit in motion media. In regards to music, the limited is 10% or no more than 30 seconds. Photographs are limited to no more than 5 photographs from one artist.
Huffman (2010) indicates that there has been an increase in the use of multimedia presentations for educational purposes. However, students are not being taught how to cite and give credit to the original authors. This problem seems to extend to academic scholars who use multimedia presentations at conferences and seminars. We all understand the importance of citations and references, yet many fail to provide them. Hoffman (2010) provides specific guidelines and expectations for the use of outside sources in multimedia presentations. The Hoffman Media Presentation Model extends from the use of a credit page to also include in-text citations throughout the work.

Desmarais, N. (2001). Copyright and fair use of multimedia resources. The Acquisitions Librarian, 13(26), 27-59. doi: 10.1300/J101v13n26_03
Huffman, S. (2010). The missing link: the lack of citations and copyright notices in multimedia presentations. TechTrends, 54(3), 38-44.