Copyright for Academics in the Digital Age

Putting teaching materials on the web doesn’t necessarily promote public knowledge
By Colin Ramsey and Martha McCaughey

When faculty members consider copyright in the digital age, it is often in relation to things we can’t (or shouldn’t) do. For example, we can’t have too much material placed in online reserve, we can’t scan journal articles to create digital versions of what used to be called “course packs,” and we can’t post an excerpt from a work of scholarship on our blogs without appropriate permissions.

Yet copyright also empowers faculty authors, and that flip side of copyright, especially as it relates to challenges posed by the posting of our teaching materials on the public web, is our subject here. The web offers great advantages for the dissemination of scholarly information, but that same technology, in its uniqueness, can also endanger our ability to ensure that our teaching materials and the products of our research are not exploited for ends we might not have imagined.

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