Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Challenging the copyright status quo in OER

A couple of days ago I commented on a post titled "Paul Stacey from BCcampus: Open Education and Policy" on the creative commons blog (funny thing, it never was accepted as a comment). Now I really think that Paul has made a great post because it is increasing the dialogue around the issue of copyright and OER... All Good! My comment was questioning the use of copyright by the adult learner within the OER context, this is what I posted;
This post is fantastic! Having the chart is a great addition to see who is doing what... One of the items around copyright that I don't see discussed is how fair-use and fair-dealings has an impact. Given fair-use is a looser approach, lets consider the tighter of fair-dealings where copyright materials used for private study isn't governed by any copyright. I agree with this, using materials for learning regardless of copyright should never put you in violation of copyright. I've looked for case law on this issue and to date I have found none. I'd like to see an individual lose a copyright suit when they used the material for their personal learning. I don't think it is going to happen. So essentially copyright / GPL / CC / copyleft is irrelevant for the learner. So the application of the copyright (or other) is about protecting the institution from copyright violations not the learner. So why is the learner burdened by these issues around copyright? If I create some OER (as long as I haven't given my rights away due to a contract or other) it's mine, regardless if I attach some form of copyright to it. I'd like the discussion to be around refusing copyright. If I create OER, my choice then becomes; do I want attribution or do I want to put into the public domain without attribution. All other forms of copyright don't matter to the learner given fair dealings / fair use. Cause no matter what license I attach to something, every other learner can ignore it due to fair dealings / fair use... if OER is about education being an attainable goal for everyone, why are we burdening everyone with copyrights that are there to protect the institutions? Or have I missed something?
So, I believe every adult learner should ignore the burdens of copyright during their research and private study and learn, create, use, re-use open educational materials with reckless abandon. And during that time I will continue to look for case law challenging fair-use and fair-dealings.