Understanding Copyright

Oberlin College is committed to ensuring all Oberlin College community members adhere to Copyright Law. Faculty distribute materials through Blackboard in accordance with Fair Use and:

  1. The material is only available to students that are officially registered for the course.
  2. The material is only available to those students during the period that the course is being offered.
  3. It is being used for educational purposes related to the course content

Instructors should also provide a statement in their syllabus or on the course site that indicates that:
These materials are being used under the Fair Use clause.  As such, all materials need to be deleted from the students machine/storage device after the course has been completed, and at no time can the material be distributed or made available to anyone who is not officially enrolled in the course.  This would be a clear violation of Fair Use under copyright law.

Audio/video copyright concerns:

As a policy which is based on technical, pedagogical and legal considerations, we do not distribute over the network anything that resembles a complete work e.g. high quality concert footage/audio, high resolution images, a whole book or a complete movie, show, or documentary.

However, it is clear that in the future these obstacles will be eliminated and for those items where we have very clear permission to digitize and distribute whole works over the network we will need to do so. Some of the OhioLink videos come to mind as do Oberlin faculty/student concerts.

Oberlin specific issues (not necessarily in order of importance):

  • Server space – adding full length films to our media server would catch-on quickly and thus require a large amount of disk space (much cost).
  • Network issues – feeding large files, even in the YouTube format would take up much of our bandwidth
  • Copyright – we should not be promoting or modeling practices that we are actively discouraging in our students. Furthermore, if a DVD is that integral to a course, then I see it in the same way that I see a book. It should be a required purchase by the student. If it isn’t integral, then putting on reserve, however inconvenient is the proper course of action.

How are other institutions handling copyright?

For more information:

Copyright Law:  http://www.copyright.gov/title17/92chap1.html

TEACH Act:  http://www.copyright.gov/docs/regstat062701.html

United States Copyright Office:  http://www.copyright.gov/

Circular 66 Copyright Registration for online works:  http://www.copyright.gov/circs/circ66.pdf

Feeling adventurous?  Check out this comic Tales from the Public Domain: BOUND BY LAW? that was created by the Duke’s Center for the Study of the Public Domain that discusses the fine line between copyright, intellectual property and fair use.

This book is available under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike license.

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