Copyright For Distance Education

Last week, I had the pleasure of hearing Linda K. Enghagen, a national expert on copyright compliance, discuss copyright issues in distance education.

As more law schools enter the distance-education game, these principles are extremely important. Enghagen specifically discussed copyright and fair use in the educational realm but also made sure to mention university policies that come into play.

Her presentation on course design was intriguing and highlighted many important concepts for copyright and distance education, including fair use considerations and the TEACH Act.

She discussed the threshold inquiry for a fair use analysis and discussed each of the four fair-use factors to weigh when deciding if permission must be granted to use a copyrighted work.

A few of many key principles include:
  • For many things that we do, the qualifying purpose is met through teaching or research
  • Fair use factor 1 generally requires restricted access - make sure to password protect content on a learning management system
  • Factor 2 favors works that are not sold in the educational market - if they are, you should consider having students pay for content
  • Factor 3 means that you can't use the "heart of the work," so make sure that the portion that you use is reasonably necessary for a pedagogical goal and is generally qualitatively insignificant
  • Factor 4 favors using a copy of the work that is lawfully obtained
As mentioned, these are just a few of the many considerations to take into account when deciding on the fair use factors. There is so much more to know about this topic to ensure that you are compliant, which is especially important in distance education when all of your content is recorded and archived.

If you want to know more about the issue, you might consider a MOOC called Copyright for Multimedia


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