Rights in the virtual classroom


Rights in the virtual classroom

Many of the world’s best universities have begun to provide courses online, offering education to anyone with access to a computer, wherever they live. But what are the best practices for ensuring the course material is protected? And who owns the rights when a lecturer leaves? WIPR considers the problems raised.

Universities have long used their patents as a means of generating income, and established models for tech transfer bring the institutions millions of dollars in royalties. However, in recent years, the internet has provided a platform for sharing the universities’ lifeblood—research and teaching—in the form of published papers and course materials.

What are the rules for sharing these materials? Who do they belong to, the university or the lecturer? How are they protected, and what provisions are there for the transfer of this knowledge?

The issue has been steadily coming to the fore as universities around the world start to share their course materials online, through freely-available massive open online courses—MOOCs—and researchers post their papers on personal blogs and social networks.

“It’s now so easy to disseminate this information, but it’s not always clear whether it’s being shared under a university header or by a different organisation,” says Mary Rose Scozzafava, partner at Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr LLP in Boston.

MOOC; online copyright; Universities; copyright infringement;