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I am a Professor of Law and the Director of the Program on Information Justice and Intellectual Property at the American University, Washington College of Law and am a founding member of the Creative Commons board.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Copyright in Higher Education

The first copyright statute was adopted by the English Parliament for the "encouragement of learning." How well is copyright doing that job today? Two stories from today's news provide different answers.

If learning is best encouraged by relying on for-profit academic publishing entities that compile educational materials, then it is proper for educators who create educational materials to transfer copyright to these publishers. These publishers can then use the author's copyright as a defense against incursions by professors who are sharing published materials with their students without requiring their students to pay. See

If, on the other hand, in the age of the Internet learning is better encouraged by authors using their copyrights to create open educational resources designed for global, royalty-free sharing, then it is better for educators to hold on to their copyrights and license their materials accordingly. See


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