Everybody switched to remote learning in Spring 2020 in a huge hurry and that created strong fair use arguments for using copyrighted content in ways that might not ordinarily make sense. However, it’s more sustainable to stick with tried-and-true copyright practices in your online course, in order to avoid extra work in the future.
Who can give copyright advice?
- Librarians can give advice but are not lawyers
- Your institution may have a copyright officer
- Your institution may have a copyright site (example: PCC’s Copyright Guide)
What can you share with students?
- You can share open educational resources (or works in the public domain).
- You can link out to freely available online resources that aren’t openly licensed.
- You likely have a good fair use argument for sharing all-rights-reserved materials with students online in a restricted setting - for example, in your learning management system which is behind a password. More info is available in this public statement of library copyright specialists
- You can give your students a persistent, proxied link to resources in the libraries’ databases - ask a librarian if you need help.
Open educational resources
- Open licenses are added by the copyright holder and give permission in advance for the kinds of use that we need for teaching and learning: to download and save a local copy, make revisions, and share widely, without violating copyright.
- Open educational resources are available for free online or in print at low cost. If a bound copy isn’t already available for purchase, upload a pdf to Lulu so that students can order copies. Let the bookstore know the course materials you plan to adopt.
- Open educational resources can be made fully accessible. More info in PCC’s Accessibility Handbook and from the accessibility services department at your own institution.
Long story short: if you redesign your course now with openly licensed materials (or content in the public domain) you will not need to re-re-design later. More sustainable!