Roundtable: Copyright in the Digital Age – NCCCS Conference 2016

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8:15am Roundtable #710, Raleigh Convention Center. Raleigh, NC. Presented by David Sullivan of Fayetteville Technical Community College.


Roundtable: Copyright in the Digital Age – NCCCS Conference 2016

McDowell tech community College representative Richard Tuttell and I discussed copyright issues until David Sullivan arrived to take over the conversation. We were joined by Carla Osborne of Wake Tech, Catherine Leed of Cape Fear Community College and Robert Hammond of Central Carolina Community College.

We began with discussions of intellectual property. Materials created on behalf of an employer (blackboard, etc.) are the property of the employer. If you are paid to do it, it belongs to the college. The college owns instead of the government. You are the government, the college is the government. These items are subject to the public records law.

Courses created by colleges are in fact state property and state documents. State documents are also matters of public records. These can be given and requested as matters of public record and retrieved as part of a public records request.

We could make a public records request. As long as those are not protected by another law. Receiving it, however, is not a license to use in its entirety or to use this with impugnity. You may be allowed to see and read this material, but for use in any way, it must be adjusted.

Material owned by an individual and used in class (say as a teacher), effectively gives an implied license to the institution. Once given, it can be covered as material for as long as this is useful to the college. It can outdate that individual’s employment, lifespan, etc. Once given as an implied license, removing that is as difficult prospect. You (or the individual in question) will retain the copyright during this time, but the license remains.

In many cases, VLCs in schools are populated with individual courses. These items can then be used and shared across multiple campuses and colleges in effect to build new courses.

The most important part of this or any other rights situation is to note the license and the rights transferred to the recipient. Always look to the rights transferred. that is the most essential part of an arrangement.

Take libraries for example: Music at Fayetteville Tech has been purchased in 100s of albums. Mostly these are beats and tunes that can be used royalty and rights-free in the future. These beats, tones, tunes, etc. can be used under their existing licenses.

In cases of intellectual property rights, it is important to note that intellectual property rights exist with original materials. Furthermore, those rights are indeed protected, but failing to protect your intellectual property under the law can cause you to lose your rights to that intellectual property. So keep a sharp eye out!

If you expect to make money on materials, it is heavily suggested that you go to the copyright office. There is an original copyright, but a stronger right exists when copyrighted officially. Furthermore, discovering who is the original owner can be a difficult pathway, and expensive if you’re in the courts.

Licenses for library materials are expensive. They can be used in an educational setting. Consider visiting materials posted online at NCLIVE. NCLIVE has asccess to many materials. These materials, and those from your campus libraries have these licenses inherit in the system. As such, they can be used without worry within the system.

We spoke about the use of a FAIR USE checklist. We have a PDF of these here at Wake Tech. If I find this, I’ll post it below.

Questions arose regarding Satire and Parody. Gone With The Wind is a title owned by the estate of Margaret Mitchell. The Wind Done Gone was a secondary book created from the perspective of one of the slaves. As an extension of the book and its characters, this became a copyright issue. As the same events of the book seen from a different perspective in a humorous light, it was argued as being a parody. It went through the courts and appeals until just standing before the supreme court. It was settled out of court before a loss was found on either side.

In effect, Fair use is not a formula, but rather a gray area. In short, most judges feel that infringement is easy to spot: “If you see it, you know it”.

At this point, I hijacked the discussion to cover imagery. Relating imagery issues commonly found in the GRD courses, I expanded to requests of information covering the % of change required before an item becomes legally usable. In short, there is none to be legally defendable, and all students are suggested only to use fully-owned individual works.

David related a story of finding a set of architectural plans and renderings for their new home. The architect refused to use the plans until a minimum of 9 exterior changes were made which would clearly differentiate the house from the original plan. Why 9 changes? apparently that was what the architect needed to do the work.

Carla Osborne of Wake Tech heavily suggested that students keep a full list of all images use, including URL of download, day/time of the connection, a screenshot of the page, and a low-res version of the file used. This is a large CYA effort, but always keeps a strong connection to the final work.

This session ended far shorter than hoped, but I was heavily impressed with this speaker.