Minow: What precipitated the new UCLA principles on the use of streaming videos and other educational content?
Borgman: UCLA, being near Hollywood, always has received extra scrutiny of our use of intellectual property. We are conscientious in our use of IP, in following applicable laws, and in educating our faculty and students about appropriate and inappropriate uses of educational and scholarly content. IP issues that rise to a level of campus concern are referred to the UCLA Information Technology Planning Board or the UCLA Advisory Board on Privacy and Data Protection, depending upon the specifics.
Our statement of principles was precipitated by a copyright dispute with AIME about our practices in streaming video for our courses. In considering UCLA’s response, our Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost, Scott Waugh, asked the ITPB and the Academic Senate to advise him and the Chancellor, Gene Block, about the educational principles of the case.
Minow: Can you describe the educational philosophy that guided the development of these principles?
Borgman: UCLA has embraced the concept of cyberlearning and the virtual classroom. University instruction has long ceased to be bounded by the four walls of a physical classroom. Students and instructors interact with each other, and with learning resources, on a 24/7 basis. The virtual classroom is the UCLA classroom of today. We are by no means alone in embracing this approach to learning. The pedagogical opportunities made possible by Internet technologies, distributed access, and new forms of course content are now critical components of higher education.
Educational content takes many forms, not only texts but also audio, moving images, and datasets. The virtual classroom and its capabilities directly benefit the learning experience of students by providing access to instructional materials at flexible times that ensure maximum productivity, when students best can contemplate and respond to the content.
Minow: Did you rely mainly on the TEACH Act or on Fair Use?
Blum: There are three provisions of the Copyright Act that support UCLA’s use; (1) fair use, (2) face-to-face teaching, and (3) the TEACH Act. Because these provisions provide limitations on copyrights, UCLA has the right to use content for its educational, non-commercial purposes consistent with each of these provisions. Streaming the content in the virtual classroom only to those students registered and participating in the specific course is integral to the pedagogy of the teaching environment and serves the very purpose that each of the provisions of the Copyright Act were enacted. This time-shifting and space-shifting has been deemed by the United States Supreme Court and the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, respectively, as well within the use permitted by the Copyright Act.
Minow: Does the possibility of sovereign immunity in case of a lawsuit enter into your analysis?
Blum: While the University generally does enjoy sovereign immunity that prevents liability for damages, I am not at liberty to discuss any specific legal analysis that may have been considered.
Minow: Do you know if any other universities are likely to adopt similar principles? How will it help the academic community at large if these principles are widely adopted?
Blum: I know that there has been interest in this issue in the Higher Education community. UCLA has decided that it is important to take a leadership position because of the value of ensuring that our students and faculty have the necessary tools and resources, including applicable technology, to provide the exceptional educational experience expected at our campus. It will be an entirely separate decision for any other institution as to its assessment of how the issue affects its mission.
[*] Christine Borgman is Professor and Presidential Chair in Information Studies at UCLA, and serves as chair of the UCLA Information Technology Planning Board.
Amy Blum is Senior Campus Counsel at UCLA.
Mary Minow is Executive Editor of the Stanford Copyright and Fair Use Website.