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Conversations That Matter: Copyright, Fair Use, and MOOCs - What To Be Aware Of


Fair use and copyright ownership are complicated enough when we are considering materials for a class with seven or 70 students. But what if you are venturing into the world of the MOOC, where media and written materials may be shared with 7,000 or 70,000 students? How do fair use and copyright considerations change as you move into that setting, and what do your faculty need to be aware of?

For answers, we turned to higher-education librarian and attorney Kevin Smith, director of copyright and scholarly communication at the Duke University libraries.

Smith shared several key considerations with us in this 10-minute podcast:

Copyright and MOOCs: More Resources

In January 2013, we interviewed fair use policy experts Kevin Smith and Steven McDonald, general counsel for the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD). They offered additional insight into what the MOOC means for faculty compliance with fair use and institutional copyright policy. Here's the article: How Will MOOCs Affect Fair Use and Copyright Compliance?

You might be also be interested in a second article -- "Copyright, Fair Use, and Electronic Materials: 3 Tips." This one is older (September 2012), but the three tips offered are still relevant.

Kevin Smith will also be covering this topic in detail in an upcoming online training with Academic Impressions. Join us online as we address major copyright issues that can arise from institutional creation of, or participation in, MOOCs. This webcast will provide a broad understanding of key copyright issues related to MOOCs, including:

  • Work made for hire
  • Fair use
  • Third party provider and permission seeking 

Learn more here.

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About the Authors

Daniel Fusch, Director of Publications & Research

Daniel provides strategic direction and content for AI’s electronic publication Higher Ed Impact, including market research and interviews with leading subject matter experts on critical issues. Since the publication’s launch in 2009, Daniel has written or edited more than 500 articles on strategic issues ranging from student recruitment and retention to development and capital planning. If you have a question or a comment about this article, feel free to contact Daniel at