The intersection of copyright with 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 representatives from other higher education associations. The consensus was that intellectual property questions for MOOC content merit wide discussion […].
This brief addresses the situation in the USA, but raises issues that carry world-wide significance. For instance, who ownes the right to the material used in a MOOC, the provider or the developing university. With most MOOCs, it is the provider, although for traditional course material it is the professor or, if this has been contractually agreed, the institution. In this case one may argue that the institution and contributing professor full well know to what kind of legal arrangement they submit themselves. But what about the students who decide to take a MOOC. Are they aware of the fact that the MOOC provider owns the content generated by them in chats and assignments? The brief also addresses issues of fair use and issue that arise from the global nature of many MOOCs.
It appears that MOOCs, in particular the commercial MOOC platform providers, are a new element in a carefully balanced system of rights and duties, a factor that has the potential of upsetting this system. Particularly if we welcome MOOCs as a valuable addition to the educational landscape, copyright issues need to be resolved in a way that honours the stakes of all contributors, not only those of the MOOC platforms. In a blog post in February this year (http://tiny.cc/e3m83w), I wondered whether MOOC providers should be likened to Internet access providers, which are oblivious to the content they provide, or to content providers such as the Apple iTunes Store. It seems they aspire to be the latter, wishing to control the content provided. They should realise that this brings responsibilities in its wake, for instance to do a proper job. This was the topic of the February blog post. Now it appears that making equitable copyright provisions should be added to the list. @pbsloep