Legal issues in OCW


Legal issues are still an obstacle to online education. There is a confusing set of layers ranging from national IPR regulations to EU and international agreements on copyright. Processes within the university to support legal use of materials, such as IPR clauses in staff contracts, are underdeveloped.

Keeping to legal territory when authoring and publishing learning materials can be challenging, but there is more to it. My institution is a small and financially constrained university that promotes the idealistic philosophy of open course ware. I found the description of the rights clearance processes in MIT enlightening and very helpful. However, if one reads more carefully, two things become clear: Firstly, the MIT uses or employs lawyers with issuing licences, contracts and disclaimers. Secondly, they talk about their copyright clearance team! My university cannot afford both those commodities.

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