Intellectual property and copyright in course materials during COVID-19 remote teaching:

By Tom Smith

From: Tom Smith, Interim Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor 

Re: Intellectual property and copyright in course materials during COVID-19 remote teaching: information and language for instructors 

As faculty prepare to deliver more instruction remotely, using videoconferencing and related tools, we are providing this brief review of rules on copyright, both for protecting your own copyright, and respecting the rights of others. 

Course Materials (including lectures, lecture notes and materials, syllabi, study guides, web-ready content)

Unless a faculty member used exceptional University resources to create course materials (which would generally only be done under a specific, signed agreement), faculty own the copyrights in the course materials they create.  That means that only the faculty member, and anyone to whom the faculty member has granted permission, may reproduce, distribute or display (post/upload) course materials. See UC 2003 Policy on Ownership of Course Materials

Recordings of Course Presentations (including notes and audio/video recordings)

With the following exceptions, no entity or individual may give, sell or otherwise distribute recordings of course presentations:

  • Students enrolled or auditing a course may give their own recordings to other enrolled/auditing students.
  • Faculty may use recordings in compliance with University policy.
  • The Student Disability Resource Center may grant the accommodation of providing course recordings to students with a disability.

See UC 2005 Policy on Use of Recordings of Course Presentations.

Steps You Can Take to Protect Your Materials

  1. Post your materials only on a platform that is password-protected and accessible only to registered and enrolled students.
  2. Advise students that your course materials and your course presentations are protected and that students may not share them except as provided by U.S. copyright law and University policy.  You can share this information with students in your first class meeting, on your course website and in your syllabus. You might use this language:
    • “My lectures and course materials, including powerpoint presentations, tests, outlines, and similar materials, are protected by U.S. copyright law and by University policy.  I am the exclusive owner of the copyright in those materials I create.  You may take notes and make copies of course materials for your own use.  You may also share those materials with another student who is registered and enrolled in this course.
    • You may not reproduce, distribute or display (post/upload) lecture notes or recordings or course materials in any other way — whether or not a fee is charged — without my express written consent.  You also may not allow others to do so. If you do so, you may be subject to student conduct proceedings under the UC Riverside Student Code of Conduct, Section 102.23.
    • Similarly, you own the copyright in your original papers and exam essays.  If I am interested in posting your answers or papers on the course web site, I will ask for your written permission.”
  3. Include language on every page of your course materials (in a header or footer, on PDFs and in Canvas) that they are protected by copyright: “© Faculty Name 2020”
  4. If you also include your UCR email address, people who want to ask your permission to use your materials will be able to contact you easily.
  5. If you are concerned about students posting materials to CourseHero, know that CourseHero has advised UC counsel that its filtering tool will, in nearly all instances, prevent the upload of materials that include this sentence in a header or footer: 

“This content is protected and may not be shared, uploaded or distributed.”

If you find that your material has been uploaded to CourseHero, assert your copyrights by sending a DMC takedown notice using the CourseHero takedown portal

Once a valid takedown notice is submitted (which is why you should use the portal), CourseHero has a duty to act “expeditiously” – usually 2-3 days. Please note that other similar websites have not made this explicit commitment, but we do still recommend adding such header or footer to your uploaded content if you are concerned about asserting your copyrights.

Copyright of others

Please be sure to respect the copyrights of others. Many materials can be used under the doctrine of Fair Use, but there are additional considerations when posting materials online. Much of remote teaching will be similar to your regular class: synchronous sharing of handwritten notes on some type of virtual board, slides, images and documents, course readings, and perhaps audio and video clips. You should also consider recording your class to be available to students for later viewing in case they cannot attend in real time. 

Recorded classes should be posted in a location restricted to campus users, such as in iLearn. By not making recordings available to the general public, you limit your risk of violating the copyrights of others.

For issues regarding virtual learning and FERPA, two key resources from the Student Privacy Policy Office:

Guidelines for specific content

Slide images

You can post your own content online, but images from other sources should not be posted in publicly available locations. Please be sure to post recorded classes in approved locations.

In-lecture use of audio or video

Playing audio or video off of physical media during an in-person class session is most likely protected under a provision of copyright law often referred to as the "face-to-face teaching classroom use” exemption. However, that exemption doesn't cover playing the same media online. If you can limit audio and video use for your course to relatively brief clips, you may be able to justify those in lecture recordings or live-casts as fair use. For media use longer than brief clips, you may need to have students independently access the content outside of your lecture videos. Some further options are outlined below.

Video & Audio
  • The Library course reserves film streaming program will remain operational and accessible during Spring 2020.  However we may not be able to process some of the new titles requested, due to the closure.
  • For Library licensed video and audio collections, click on Library databases and use the audio and video filters on the left. Remember to log into the campus VPN before accessing Library content from off campus. The two most commonly used film resources are AVON and Kanopy.
  • Wherever possible, streaming media sources should be used. For more information on Fair Use and copyright during the COVID-19 closure, see the Public Statement of Library Copyright Specialists: Fair Use & Emergency Remote Teaching & Research. 
  • If you need help finding a title or would like to request the Library purchase new video or audio materials to support remote instruction, submit your request via the Suggest a Purchase form.
ebooks
  • See ebooks at UCR for information about collections available for you.
  • Some ebook collections, like JSTOR, can be used in classes immediately via the campus VPN.
  • Some ebook platforms (such as Ebook Central and EBSCOhost) limit access to a small number of users at a time or cut off access after a certain number of uses. If you plan on using an ebook (other than one from JSTOR) as a required reading, let the Library know by emailing one of the Collection Strategists and they will confirm if a multi-user license can be obtained and, if one cannot, will work with you to identify an alternate resource. 
  • If you need an ebook that the Library does not already have in its collection, submit your request via the Suggest a Purchase form.
Course Reserves
  • Course Reserve services will remain operational during Spring 2020.  However, physical material placed on course reserve will be inaccessible to students during the campus closure.  As an alternative, we are working to obtain electronic access to requested material when available.  We consider Fair Use Guidelines when reviewing requests.
  • The Collection Strategists are available to assist in identifying alternate solutions for material not available electronically. Please contact Course Reserves Coordinator, Joanne Austin if you have further questions.
  • Posting resources on iLearn that you have obtained yourself should follow the same practice that you use for in-person courses (see the Fair Use section of the Public Statement of Library Copyright Specialists). For more information on this topic, please see UC’s systemwide “Copyright and Fair Use” policy.

We hope this guidance is helpful. Thank you again for working to provide remote forms of instruction so that our students can continue their studies without interruption in Spring Quarter.

Some of this content is adapted from “Rapidly shifting your course from in-person to online” by Nancy Sims @CopyrightLibn, University of Minnesota Libraries, and licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial License. 

Thanks to our colleagues at other UC campuses for providing earlier versions of this guidance.