Permission to use articles

Discussion in 'Online & DL Teaching' started by graymatter, Jun 1, 2012.

  1. graymatter

    graymatter Member

    I started a thread a few months ago about course development:

    In there, the possibility of using a collection of articles rather than a text was brought up. I am currently developing a course and feel as though this may be the best option. I've reviewed the major texts that seem to be used by other programs and find each of them lacking in some key areas.

    I'd like to either abandon the idea of a primary text entirely or use one of those text but also require students to review specific articles (to fill in what I believe are some key gaps).

    I've certainly taken courses where articles are "handed-out" either literally or electronically. Does permission need to be secured to do this? If so, how do I go about doing that?

    As silly as this sounds, I don't want to ask the school I'm writing the course for... I don't want to sound stupid and this seems like a stupid question to me.

    I don't care if you all think I'm stupid. So what's the protocol here?
  2. graymatter

    graymatter Member

  3. SteveFoerster

    SteveFoerster Resident Gadfly Staff Member

    Schools have varying policies, so I reconsider your disinclination to ask them. But if these articles are either available through the school's library or are publicly viewable somewhere, there should be a means to connect to them in the online course you're building. But you'll have to ask them how.
  4. Kizmet

    Kizmet Moderator Staff Member

    I have also taken courses where a collection of articles was used instead of a textbook. My understanding (very imperfect) is that doing so with out written permission constitutes copyright infringement and could get you into trouble. I have no idea if getting permission would be difficult or easy. If I had written an article and someone wanted to use it in a course I guess I'd feel flattered. At the same time I realize that other opinions will vary. With all that being said, this is something I copied from Wikipedia:

    "Copyright is the right that the producer of a creative work has been granted to prevent others from copying it. Unlike a patent, however, in most places (i.e., countries) you don't have to apply for a copyright – you get one automatically every time you produce creative work. A creative work can be almost anything – a book, a song, a picture, a photograph, a poem, a phrase, or a fictional character. In the US, buildings built on or after December 1, 1990 are also eligible for copyright.[1] Licenses may be granted to others, giving them the right to copy the work subject to certain conditions. A license is similar to a contract – the work may only be copied under the conditions given by the copyright holder or if one of the other exceptions to the copy right applies. Copyright laws vary between countries; the relevant US law is Title 17.[2] The Berne convention is a comprehensive international agreement on copyrights which is part of the copyright law of many nations.[3] Copyright does not protect against all possible copying: both US law and the Berne Convention limit copyright scope and enable much copying without permission even if the copyright holder objects. Specifically, broadcast and piano roll rights are specifically granted, with an automatic license fee, managed and collected by such organizations as BMI, ASCAP and BPI. In the US fair use (in the UK, fair dealing) is explicitly permitted as well, as is the right to sell a licensed copy of a copyrighted work, such as a video tape or sound recording. Also, both the Berne Convention and US law require that a work have some original creativity to be eligible for a copyright monopoly. Feist Publications v. Rural Telephone Service contains some examples of US decisions about what is and isn't original, including examples such as typo correction. "Copyright is a temporary monopoly granted by the government – it creates the legal fiction that a piece of writing or composing ... is property and can only be sold by those who have been licensed to do so by the copyright holder". – Orson Scott Card.[4] Note that it is limited to the form of expression, not to the ideas. Thus, a book by Agatha Christie is likely to be copyrighted, but the mere idea of a detective with an accent and odd personal mannerisms would not be, nor would a story about someone claiming to be the premier consulting detective in a major city be a violation of the Conan Doyle copyrights on Sherlock Holmes stories. Ideas and facts are not copyrightable in most places, only the form of expression of them."
  5. graymatter

    graymatter Member

    I get that. I think. But "in class" (I'm thinking residential here), faculty often pass out an article or handout. They include proper citation, but I don't believe that they contact the original author specifically to secure permission.

    Thanks for your feedback.
  6. Kizmet

    Kizmet Moderator Staff Member

    I understand your point and I agree that this is probably common practice. Someone (not me) might make a distinction between a situation where A) an instructor hands out an occasional article to supplement the regular course textbook and B) an instructor that uses a collection of copied articles in lieu of a textbook. I am simply pointing out that in either case, especially scenario B, an author might legally object. I have no idea how likely this might be, perhaps quite unlikely.
  7. Chip

    Chip Administrator

    As far as I know, the only exemption that would apply to copyright law is fair use, and my (somewhat limited) understanding of fair use in an educational setting is that use is limited to excerpts provided for criticism or commentary. It doesn't sound like your use credibly falls under that category, and I'd suggest that the description you gave doesn't match that use at all.

    If you're using an article (or even a test or chart) that someone else has written, you are infringing on copyright if you use it without permission for any use other than, as stated above, for criticism or commentary. The fact that a bunch of professors do it in college doesn't make it legal; that argument is akin to "Well, lots of people download stuff on Bittorent so it must be OK." I'd also guess that some schools, most likely the for-profit ones, probably take the attitude of "Let them sue us" and don't care about intellectual property theft.

    But somewhere along the line, people have to take a stand, particularly since, as educators, you're sending a powerful message to your students if you simply steal copyrighted content and redistribute it to your students without proper permission.
  8. Julie1014

    Julie1014 New Member

    I don't think you're stupid at all. In fact, it shows that you are being very responsible for what you might add to your classes. I would just call the school and ask them. To me, it shows that you have thoroughly done your research for your classes, reviewed textbooks, and want to make sure that your students get all of the necessary information they need, which includes additional sources of information. I would just call them to see what their policy is.

    Whatever you decide to do, good luck with your course!:smile:
  9. Ian Anderson

    Ian Anderson Active Member

    Most US Government documents are not copyright and can be used freely.

    But this is not true of UK government documents; in my thesis, and a resultant paper, I obtained permission and acknowledged that permission as follows:
    The photographs of Figures 1, 2, 3, 6 and 8 (negative numbers C3717, HU24233, C(AM)16018, MH7294, CH9687 respectively) courtesy of the Imperial war Museum, London. Figure 4 is courtesy of the Science Museum Library, London.
  10. Rich Douglas

    Rich Douglas Well-Known Member

    Read about Fair Use.
  11. edowave

    edowave Active Member

    As an undergrad, I had a few UF professors do this. We had to buy a required "course packet" from a local copy center. My understanding was the professor would tell the copy center what articles he/she wanted to use, the copy center would contact the publisher for permission and find out the fees. Once the publisher gave permission, the copy center would then put together the packet, and charge the student when they came in to pick up it up.

    I had one course packet that cost more than the textbook! I asked that professor why we needed to spend $150 for some photocopied articles. He had no clue the copyright fees were that high. He just told the copy center what articles to use, and that was that.
  12. graymatter

    graymatter Member

    Thanks. I looked up Fair Uses and included is: "Nonprofit educational uses -- for example, photocopying of limited portions of written works by teachers for classroom use."

    We're talking about using up to perhaps a dozen chapters and/or articles from different sources. Nonprofit (private) college.
  13. graymatter

    graymatter Member

    Well, the more research I do, the more this is getting clearer. UMUC has a helpful post. Copyright and Fair Use - UMUC Library

    This portion made me feel (perhaps) "in the clear":

    In General, What Counts as Fair Use?
    Keeping in mind the rules for instructors listed above, and that the source(s) of all materials must be cited in order to avoid plagiarism, general examples of limited portions of published materials that might be used in the classroom under fair use for a limited period of time, as discussed by the U.S. Copyright Office (2009, p. 6), include:
    A chapter from a book (never the entire book).
    An article from a periodical or newspaper.
    A short story, essay, or poem. One work is the norm whether it comes from an individual work or an anthology.
    A chart, graph, diagram, drawing, cartoon or picture from a book, periodical, or newspaper.
    Prose: Copies of an article, story or essay that are 2,500 words or less or excerpts up to 1,000 words or 10 percent of the total work, whichever is less.

    However, the following paragraph... well, it looks like I'll be seeking permission afterall.

    What Should Be Avoided?
    Making multiple copies of different works that could substitute for the purchase of books, publisher's reprints, or periodicals.
    Copying and using the same work from semester to semester.

    Now, all this being said... I have had the "packet" as was described above - and I do recall it being quite expensive (now it makes more sense to me). But many, many, many more courses I've taken link to (or even post to blackboard, etc) journal articles. In most of those situations, I seem to doubt that permission was secured.

    But maybe not.
  14. edowave

    edowave Active Member

    Since nothing is being reproduced, there is nothing wrong with providing the reference, and then telling the students to look it up. Now that most things can be read online through a university library VPN, it is probably more common to do that. Not sure about posting the actual article to blackboard, however, if the university already pays the online journal for access, maybe?
  15. Kizmet

    Kizmet Moderator Staff Member

    Good point by you.

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