Monday, November 12, 2012

MOOCs, Distance Education, and Copyright: Two Wrong Questions to Ask


The rapid rise of MOOCs has rejuvenated conversations about copyright and the development of distance education programs.  Copyright long has been a challenge for distance learning, and the vast scale of MOOCs escalates the importance of addressing the law in a most thoughtful and creative manner.  Hundreds of thousands of students are now enrolling in courses with prominent professors from leading universities, delivered through organizations such as Coursera, edX, Udacity, and others.  All of these players have copyright questions, yet too often they ask the wrong questions.  Starting the conversation with the right question can determine whether we reach productive and useful outcomes, or become mired in limited and contentious options.  This is a good time to push aside wrong questions and get a fresh start on the important copyright issues.

Wrong Question #1: “Who owns the copyright in my online course?”


The Better Question #1: “How can we best allocate and manage rights in our online course?”


Wrong Question #2: “Does fair use allow me to cut and paste and include a variety of materials into my online course?”


The Better Question #2: “What are the options for including copyrighted works in an online course?”



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