Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Copyright, Digital Coursepacks and a joint announcement from Cornell and the American Association of Publishers

I wanted to share a recent press release from the AAP on copyright. As you can see, it involves college coursepacks. There is more detail, but a significant point is that duplicating material digitally must be treated with the same respect for copyright as if it were physically duplicated.

You may think that is fairly straightforward Copyright issue-reading someone's material whatever the format, is accessing and using their work-but for many, it doesn't seem to be so straightforward. Correcting that perception is an educational process.

And while I expect there are very few enlightened institutions of higher learning where romances are making up many of coursepacks, the principle of copyright is at issue, and that should be important to us all. Especially as it is respect (or lack of) for copyright that is being taught to a new generation.

As almost every academic is a published author and I expect many students hope to make their living creating intellectual property, this should be a core value of our academic institutions. I really applaud Cornell for having stepped up and so compelling articulated the importance of this issue to their institution and to education.

Press Release :

Jointly Written Guidelines Affirm That Copyright Law Applies to Electronic Course Content

New York, NY, September 19, 2006: As part of ongoing discussions over the manner in which Cornell University provides copyrighted course content to students in digital formats, the Association of American Publishers (AAP) and Cornell recently announced a new set of copyright guidelines to govern the use of electronic course materials on the library's electronic course reserves system, on faculty and departmental web pages, and through the various 'course management' websites used at Cornell. The guidelines affirm that the use of such content is governed by the same legal principles that apply to printed materials.

The guidelines, which were jointly drafted by Cornell and AAP, make it clear that faculty must obtain permission to distribute such works to the same extent as permission is required with respect to reproductions and distributions of publishers' copyrighted works in hard-copy formats.

"Cornell and AAP concur that instructional use of content requiring the copyright owner's permission when used in a printed coursepack likewise requires permission when used in an electronic format," said John Siliciano, Vice Provost of Cornell.

"The Publishers and the authors they represent are gratified that Cornell has responded positively to their concerns and has taken a leadership role on this issue in the academic community," said Pat Schroeder, former Congresswoman and head of the AAP. "With more and more content now available in digital form, it is important to clarify the copyright responsibilities that accompany use of that content,
and to be sure that colleges and universities are enforcing the rules they adopt."

Mrs. Schroeder continued, "AAP hopes that Cornell's actions will set an example for other colleges and universities and provide them an opportunity to review their own practices and institute similar guidelines."

Discussions are ongoing between AAP and Cornell concerning additional approaches that may be appropriate to encourage compliance with copyright law so that instructors' postings of electronic course content conform with legal requirements.

More info on the AAP site:
Press Release


Laura Vivanco said...

And while I expect there are very few enlightened institutions of higher learning where romances are making up many of coursepacks, the principle of copyright is at issue, and that should be important to us all.

I don't actually teach in a university myself, but I've been involved in discussions with academics who do, and one of the problems when choosing a syllabus is finding texts which are still in print. Harlequins, of course, go out of print very, very quickly, and I wonder if that would tend to make it more likely that either they won't be on the curriculum or they'll be taught by the 'grab a Harlequin, any Harlequin, and analyse it' method, which assumes that they're all pretty much the same, which, of course, isn't the case.

With Harlequin's move towards selling eBooks I wonder if that might change somewhat. Is it likely that Harlequin will eventually be selling many of the old favourites online in ebook format? I know some favourite authors are reprinted in new book editions (e.g. there have been reprints of Jennifer Crusie's novels, by MIRA (not including Sizzle, except in an Australian edition)) but even so they're impossible to find new in bookshops unless it's the month they're being released. It takes a lot of time to work on an academic article, and so it's usually months, even years, after the publication date that scholarly work mentioning the romance will appear. Then fellow academics wanting to read the original text don't have easy access to it.

I do hope there will be eBooks made available of backlists.

Isabel Swift said...

Laura: good point--and yes, we are continuing to expand our eBook program and develop a backlist program as well. You've touched on some nice "Long Tail" opportunities! Thank you.