Week 10: Blog post

I’ll start this week’s Blog post by noting that the action items this week were very helpful in my understanding of what copyright really is. In particular, Renee Hobbs’ session from the Winter Faculty Institute was highly informative regarding copyright law, the “everything is a remix” videos were great (I had to watch all four of them!) and the “A fair(y) Use Tale” was both clever and educational.

In the past, I have been known to copy (as a PDF) math exercises, from a text, for students who had not yet purchased their copy of a course text. I would then post those PDFs on Sakai – insuring that the PDFs were visible only to members of the class. I was essentially hiding the copies so that no one other than my students would know I was doing it. I always felt like this may be a copyright infringement, but I would do it anyway. I suppose that Renee would categorize me as a “Close the Door” kind of teacher. What made me doubt the legitimacy of this use is that I wasn’t writing the problems myself. I suppose the use of copies of any sort would cause me concern.

In any case, after this week’s readings, I am no longer concerned that the use of those PDFs may be a copyright infringement – I am satisfied that it is not.

While I don’t think my use of the material would be considered transformative, it was appropriate in amount; only a small portion of the text was copied as I only copied the chapter 1 exercises. In addition, the title of the text was clearly listed on several of the PDF copies, and the students were told that the PDFs were copies from the required text, so I was in no way attempting to claim ownership of these exercises.

Furthermore, I did not make a market impact of any kind. I was not selling the copies, so I was not realizing any monetary gain, and since the students were still required to purchase the text, the publisher was still realizing their full monetary gain for the materials. In other words: there was no cost to the copyright owner.

Actually, now that I think about it, I wonder if it’s even possible to copyright mathematics equations. Maybe, since what I copied was a collection of math problems, one might argue that the specific collection is copyrighted.

As for my use of copyrighted materials in the future, I would feel comfortable using other people’s work so long as I transform the material in some way.


One thought on “Week 10: Blog post

  1. I agree with you that it is good to know we are free to copy materials for educational purposes. But I still feel obligated to follow each school’s policies on this issue. The issue of public domain is tricky, because based on my understanding anything in public domain can be copied without fear of law suite but if a work in public has been altered, that alteration could be considered infringement. If in doubt ,this site by Cornell defines issues around public domain works. http://copyright.cornell.edu/resources/publicdomain.cfm

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