A Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Open Courseware

Corona of the Sun during a Solar Eclipse (No Known Copyright Restrictions)

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Corona of the Sun During a Solar Eclipse (No known copyright)  (from flickr commons: http://flickr.com/photos/smithsonian/2534500722/)

A Note from the Fair Use on Open CourseWare team:

All of us have been frustrated by problems with third-party rights for open courseware materials. We know that if we could clarify when fair use applies, we could vastly expand the utility of what we do. And we know that in other cases, creative communities have done that. For instance, documentary filmmakers now find that insurers accept their claims of fair use, because they created a code of best practices in fair use. Similarly, media literacy teachers now can teach without fear, because they created a code of best practices in fair use. These codes of best practices were coordinated by Profs. Peter Jaszi and Pat Aufderheide, through the Center for Social Media and the Washington College of Law at American University.

We need a code of best practices in fair use for open courseware. A group of representatives at some of the open courseware universitiesMIT, Tufts, Johns Hopkins School of Public Health, University of Michigan, Yale, Notre Dame, Berkeley, Creative Commons—have started a project to do this, in coordination with Jaszi and Aufderheide, and with financial support from the Hewlett Foundation and from each of our universities. Each of the eight participating universities’ staff has set aside some part of their workload for this job.

Are you interested in helping to shape a code of best practices in fair use for open courseware? You can participate at several levels. If you would like to become a researcher on the project, just let Lindsey Weeramuni (lweera @ mit.edu), the project’s coordinator know. Do you have a story to tell? Write Jaszi and Aufderheide at socialmedia @ american.edu and we’ll connect you. Do you think your organization would eventually like to become a signatory? Let Lindsey know and we’ll be in touch when the document has been crafted, for your participation.

We hope to complete this work by September 1, so that the 2009-2010 school year can be a great one for open courseware.

Other questions or comments can also be directed here at open.michigan@umich.edu