We've included some scenarios here to help you test your knowledge of copyright compliance in the seated and electronic classroom environment. Read through each scenario and click View Answer to reveal the solution to each scenario.
Dr. K is designing a Russian Literature course for Tiffin University. The textbook that she has selected includes an English translation, but she has noticed in several areas that the translation isn’t accurate. She has written her own translation to the work, and plans to add that document as a lecture in Moodle. Is she violating copyright?
No. Because Dr. K wrote her translation independent of the translation in the book, the original content is hers to do with as she pleases.
Dr. G is teaching a seated course for Tiffin University. He wants to distribute an article from LexisNexis to his students and require them to write a paper on it. He accesses the article through the library’s license and prints off 15 copies. He then carries them to class and distributes them to his students. Is this a violation of copyright?
Yes, but making his actions compliant are quick and easy. Dr. G needs to mark each copy of the article as copyrighted material if it is not already marked (some library articles print out with such a statement at the back of the article). In the seated setting, the copyright notification and a request not to duplicate the content is enough when you are pulling from a resource that has been legally licensed by the university. However, had Dr. G copied the article from a print resource, such as a textbook, he would be required to adhere to the excerpt requirements outlined in Tiffin University’s copyright policy in order to remain complaint. He would still need to mark the copies as copyright protected and ask students not to copy and distribute the materials to anyone outside of the class. If he wants to place a digital copy of the article into his course companion in Moodle, he must use the permalink through the library. PDF copies of library resources cannot be placed inside Moodle.
Dr. G finds that the adopted textbook for his course is lacking information that he believes students should know before the end of their academic program. He finds a chapter in another textbook that he wants to use for supplemental reading, and decides to upload it as a PDF in his course companion. Is he violating copyright?
Yes. Protected materials should be applicable to an assignment or activity in the course. Since these materials are supplemental, students should be directed to them without being provided with a copy of them. The instructor can provide a link (rather than a PDF) to the material. He can also provide students with a bibliography of “further reading” and indicate whether such materials are available in the library.
Dr. B is assisting in the development of Tiffin University’s first MOOC. The MOOC is designed to run without a facilitator through a series of quizzes and self-paced learning modules, and enrollment is free and open to anyone who wishes to register. She wants to add links to several library articles into the MOOC. Is this a violation of copyright?
Yes. The library licenses materials for TU students, faculty, and staff only. Students enrolled in the MOOC do not pay a fee to “register,” and the instructional activity within the MOOC is self-paced. These are two clear violations of the TEACH Act.
Over his lengthy summer hiatus, Dr. R came across a new school of thought on the women of Shakespeare. He has found two potential textbooks on the topic, as well as a website that contains instructional materials, teacher’s guides, and lesson plans. He wants to use these materials to create a new “Special Topics” course at Tiffin University. Is this a violation of copyright?
Potentially. Intent counts for a lot when dealing with intellectual property. When a course is built around a specific set of materials rather than around a specific idea or need, the frequency with which the course is offered would likely be less than a course that is applicable to a specific degree program and/or required as part of that degree program. In order to be TEACH compliant, a course must be offered in a consistent, predictable, fashion.
Dr. D is planning a new course that examines criminal investigative procedures. He has found a large procedural manual through the Bureau of Criminal Investigation’s page on the Ohio Attorney General’s website. Fearful of another government shutdown, he wants to keep the document in PDF format in the LMS to ensure student access to the content. He also wants students to be able to print, save, and make notes directly on the document if needed. Is he violating copyright?
No. Documents like policy/procedure manuals and reports which are produced through a government agency are open for use in whatever manner an institution deems suitable as long as there is no economic gain in doing so. Documents can be pulled directly from a government website without the need to provide an attribution and without the prevention controls for printing and/or downloading that are typically required for other documents. If the manual is a required component, Dr. D should also consider the currency of the material and the frequency of republication before embedding the PDF document directly into the course. While we may do many things with government documents that we can’t do with a standard file from a resource protected by copyright, if the agency publishes a new manual each year it might be beneficial to link to a website where that content is updated upon publication so that students have access to the most recent version without a required revision to the course.
Professor P is the new advisor for the sorority Sigma Tau Cha-Cha. Most of her “girls” are enrolled in Dr. R’s new course, “Women of Shakespeare.” They are currently reading Taming of the Shrew, and are struggling with the content. Professor P would like to bring her personal copies of several film adaptations of the play to “Movie Monday” with the hope that it helps the students better understand the play. Is she violating copyright?
Yes. Permission must be sought for films shown on campus that are not a part of mediated instructional activities initiated by the instructor in one instance (class session) for just his/her students. Professor P is not the instructor for the course, and she would potentially be showing the film to students who aren’t even enrolled in the course.
Dr. R notices several students struggling to understand Taming of the Shrew in his “Women of Shakespeare” course. He brings his personal copy of one of the film adaptations with the intent of showing it in his class. Is he violating copyright?
No. You can show a film in a “class session” for a seated course without fear of violating copyright law under the TEACH Act. In the online environment, use of the resource is governed by the amount you use, any alteration of the content from its original format, potential circumvention of controls, and length of availability inside your LMS.
Professor L is teaching a course on Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales. Chaucer’s original work was published in the 14th Century, so the copyright (lifetime of author + 75 years + renewable for 40 more) has long since passed. Professor L has a copy of the Tales that was published by Penguin in 1994. She would like to scan Penguin’s copy of the text and place it in the LMS as required reading for her students. Is this a violation of copyright?
Yes. Though Chaucer no longer holds the rights to his work, Penguin holds the rights to the version of his work that it chose to publish. Prologues, epilogues, editor’s notes, and formatting are all owned by Penguin, so converting the material from print to digital format in its entirety is a clear copyright violation. A good solution would be to find a link for Canterbury Tales online, and provide students with the link (unless otherwise instructed by the website). This way no control of the material has been circumvented. Older materials such as this may also be found in digital format in the library, where students could read the work in a more reliable, familiar format.
Dr. S is revising a course in which several egregious copyright violations have been found. The goal is to locate alternative pathways to use the readings and/or seek permission to use the materials if there are no other alternatives. He has been able to obtain alternate access and/or permission to use all but one resource and that resource is vital to the completion of the lesson. He has contacted the copyright owner several times and is yet to receive a response. Can he go ahead and use the material?
No. It’s possible that Dr. S just needs a bit of help with the acquisition, in which case a copyright liaison could step in and conduct a thorough investigation of alternate accession methods for the material. Rather than contacting the copyright owner directly, other channels can be pursued to verify ownership and acquire the resource (dependent upon budget). If, however, a dead end is reached as the course goes into production, another resource must be selected and the assignment may require revision.
The textbook for Introductory Writing has gone out-of-print at the publisher. An entire online course is built around the use of this textbook and its publisher-created lectures/supplements, and the bookstore can no longer receive copies to sell to the students. Professor W would like to find alternate reading materials and leave the existing course structure as-is with publisher materials for the following term. Is this a violation of copyright?
Yes. A book’s out-of-print status does not exempt it from copyright protection and, in some cases, copyright protection is carried forward by families, estates, and foundations long after an author is deceased. Publishers may also place restrictions on their supplemental PowerPoints and handouts to accompany certain editions of a textbook so that only materials which accompany an adopted text may be used.