Copyright and Fair Use

I had a conversation with an educator about a year ago. The educator was excited to tell me about a new online course he was creating. To create the course, he had purchased a variety of textbooks on the subject from a variety of publishers. He was scanning the pages into the platform and adding questions as well as picking up the existing activities.

In his opinion this is Fair Use. His justification, the content was to be used in an educational setting so he was free and clear. Plus, he was taking print and making it “digital” and adding his questions to the content.

 

What do you think? Fair Use or Copyright Violation

 

4 thoughts on “Copyright and Fair Use”

  1. Well, there actually is not enough information to determine if this falls under Fair Use… Theoretically, if the instructor did purchase the books and was scanning only a small portion of them for the purpose of instruction and was posting those scans in a platform like LMS (which is a secure environment, meaning only students enrolled in the course can access) then it might potentially actually does fall under the Fair Use. At least for the first semester 🙂 I am not sure how adding his question will play into it one way or another. I assume the questions meant to be for assessment… Also not sure what “picking up” the existing activities mean in this context.
    However, if the instructor made a majority or all of the textbook chapters available digitally, then it is definitely a copyright infringement. The best way to check though is through one of the readily available checklists like this one: https://copyright.columbia.edu/content/dam/copyright/Precedent%20Docs/fairusechecklist.pdf

    1. He picked up 100% of the print material. The printed copyright info in the front matter of the series prevents photocopying as the books were created as consumable materials. Picking up the existing activities: scanned the content and added the pages to his platform.

    1. Dillon, great question. While he is not charging students to access the content he did create it as part of his job so in effect he got paid for picking up someone’s work. Above that, the content he picked up was created as a revenue item into classrooms. His efforts direct compete with the originators goal.

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