January 25, 2022

New Brief From EDUCAUSE: “Copyright Challenges in MOOC Environments”

The following six-page brief was released today by EDUCAUSE.

It was written by Joan Cheverie, Manager, Professional Development Programs for EDUCAUSE.

Before joining the organization in 2011 Cheverie was Head of Copyright and Rights Management at Georgetown University. She has an MLIS degree from Catholic University.

Direct to Full Text Brief (6 pages, PDF)

Executive Summary

The intersection of copyright and the scale and delivery of MOOCs highlights the enduring tensions between academic freedom, institutional autonomy, and copyright law in higher education.

To gain insight into the copyright concerns of MOOC stakeholders, EDUCAUSE talked with CIOs, university general counsel, provosts, copyright experts, and other higher education associations.

The consensus opinion was that intellectual property questions for MOOC content merit wide discussion because they affect multiple stakeholders and potentially carry significant consequences. Each MOOC provider, for example, establishes a proprietary claim on material included in its courses, licenses to the user the terms of access and use of that material, and establishes its ownership claim of user-generated content. This conflicts with the common institutional policy approach that grants rights to faculty who develop a course. Fair-use exceptions to traditional copyright protection face challenges as well, given a MOOC’s potential for global reach.

Nonetheless, fair use and MOOCs are not mutually exclusive ideas. MOOCs remain an experiment. Initiating discussions with a wide range of campus stakeholders will ensure clarity of purpose and a common understanding of copyright issues in a MOOC environment.

Direct to Full Text Brief (6 pages, PDF)

Experts Consulted For This Brief Include:

  • William Baeslack, Case Western Reserve University
  • Kenneth Crews, Columbia University
  • James Hilton, University of Michigan (University of Virginia at the time of the interview)
  • Laura Gasaway, University of North Carolina–Chapel Hill
  • Lev Gonick, Case Western Reserve University (as of as of July 1, 2013, CEO of OneCommunity)
  • „Michael Tanner, Association of Public and Land-grant Universities
  • Madelyn Wessel, University of Virginia
About Gary Price

Gary Price (gprice@mediasourceinc.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.