Sunday, July 24, 2005

Copyright issues and course content/design

As I was finishing up my lecture for tomorrow, a most intriguing segment aired on All Things Considered. The issue was an ethical question over whether someone is ethically okay to design and base a large part of their material for an on-line, for-profit course on someone else's textbook. The course designer properly cited the work (and consulted other sources as well), but never obtained the textbook author's permission.

I have been writing my lectures based heavily on the usual professor's outline and relying on 3 books for my references and figures. One of those books is the assigned textbook for the course, and I assume I'm in the clear on that one. But the other two books aren't always getting cited on my powerpoint slides (although they are cited in the notes that I see in the powerpoint file). Am I okay ethically?

I've also been getting some images from the web (yay, google image). I've been trying to acknowledge on the slides any images from individuals or corporations, and mostly I've been trying to get them from .gov or .edu sites, where at least for the federal government things aren't under copyright.

I guess I'm wondering where the line is in terms of powerpoint lectures. Should I acknowledge each image on each slide? Should I add a slide on the end with all of the image credits? How do I acknowledge that I am borrowing heavily from another professor? Any suggestions?


volcano girl said...

Don't stress about it!

I developed a distance ed course and did have to cite all images and material. That was a pain. But there are a lot of great public domain web sites. (free encyclopedia)

Any government run site is public domain. It is best to say where you got your material, out of courtesy. But as long as you pay attention, you should be fine. If a text book is required for the course, then you can use it liberally with no worries. As for other texts, you can site them, but don't base your whole course on them. Maybe just a few lectures.

Science and knowledge work toward a common good, to erradicate ignorance and understand our world. It shouldn't matter where the information comes from so long as it is accurate and useful.

Writer Chica said...

I would say you don't need to site on each specific slide or instance, but mention at the end or beginning where you obtained images and info.
As far as borrowing from another professor, since you are just starting out it is bound to happen and as long as the other professor is fine, then I think you are good.
Have a great week teaching!

ScienceWoman said...

What I decided to do was add a slide at the end of each powerpoint giving all the citations for images, etc. But then last night I was up past 11 finishing the lecture (the computer ate my earlier version) and I didn't have time to do it. I wonder if I ever will...