Breadcrumb Navigation:

home > FAQs > For faculty

For Faculty

FACULTY TEACHING FAQS: CLASSROOM

• FACULTY TEACHING FAQS: ONLINE

Recommended reading: Copyright Basics Tutorial, and the Using Copyright Works Tutorial.

Because this section of the Copyright Act makes even less sense than copyright law usually does, it needs a brief introduction.  In the Copyright Act, there is no area devoted to or designated "distance Learning" or "online classes."  For Copyrighted works not covered by a license, there is only Section 110(2), amended in 2002, by a bill called the Teach Act", and Section 107, also known as the fair use doctrine.

Section 110(2) applies whenever you are going to TRANSMIT performances and displays of copyrighted works.  It is this act of transmission (such as happens online or via cable TV) that takes the analysis out of the much friendlier 110(1) (the traditional face-to-face classroom where anything goes) and thrusts it rudely into the rigid and hostile regions of 110(2).

So when you wonder why you can't perform or display the same works online to the same extent you could in the classroom, you will experience confusion, perhaps vertigo and even a little nauseous disorientation.  Don't be alarmed - this is a normal response for logically-minded faculty.  It will pass and you may even feel compelled to write a letter to your Congressional representative.

Section 110(2)
Frequently Asked Questions

A. Institutional Level Questions | B. Technological Questions | C. Faculty/Content Questions

A. Institutional Level Questions

1. Does the institution's copyright policy need to specifically address online teaching 110(2)?
2. How are institutions approaching the definition of “officially enrolled”?
3. Can you define “distance education”?
4. Is it appropriate to give access to course materials after the end of a course to students with an incomplete grade?
5. Section 110(2)is described as applying to distance education. Is access by an enrolled student in their dorm room included in the definition of distance education?
6. Can students log on and view class sessions at their own pace?
7. In invoking the exception in Section 110(2), is it more a matter of the instructor being clear in his/her own mind that the material being used is actually falling under the 110(2) guidelines or is there further paperwork/notification that needs to be done?
8. The House report indicates that faculty and students can post materials pursuant to Section 110(2). What about instructional technology support staff working for the faculty but not enrolled in the class?

__________________________________________________________________________________

A. 1. Does the institution's copyright policy need to specifically address online teaching i.e., 110(2)

No. Section 110(2) language is as follows:

The transmitting institution must institute policies regarding copyright and provide informational materials to faculty, students, and relevant staff members that accurately describe, and promote compliance with, the laws of the United States relating to copyright.

Thus, the Section 110(2) itself does not require an institution's copyright policy to specifically address online teaching. Most institutional policies already require compliance with the law, if not the copyright law specifically.

It is also important to keep in mind that the Section 110(2) exception (with its host of requirements) is not the only way that copyrighted materials can be lawfully transmitted (online or otherwise). Materials can also be posted with the permission of the copyright holder (and remember that the faculty member is often the copyright holder) or pursuant to fair use.

[return to top]

2. How are institutions approaching the definition of “officially enrolled”?

There is no definition of “officially enrolled” in the statutory language or the legislative reports. Each institution will have to determine its own definition of this term. “Officially enrolled” can mean that the student is listed on the official class roll maintained by the institution's department of registration and records and actively complying with all course requirements. Additionally, for Section 110(2) purposes, it can include other institutionally offered courses, such as online library instruction, training, and continuing education courses where the enrollment list is maintained in a department other than university registration and records.

[return to top]

3. Can you define “distance education”?

There are no doubt many definitions of distance education crafted for many different purposes. Section 110(2), though often associated with distance education activities, is not limited to “distance education” and does not even use the phrase in its text. To transmit a performance or display is to communicate it by any device or process whereby images or sounds are received beyond the place from which they are sent. Therefore, any time the performance or display of a copyrighted work is transmitted, Section 110(2) is potentially implicated. This would include “distance education courses”, “traditional” courses with an online component, cable TV courses, and so forth.

[return to top]

4. Is it appropriate to give access to course materials after the end of a course to students with an incomplete grade?

Although Section 110(2) does not specifically address this situation, the legislative history indicates an expectation that a common sense approach will be applied in implemention. Allowing access to course materials after the end of a course to a student with an incomplete grade, assuming all the other 110(2) requirements are met, would not seem to violate this expectation because that student is still taking the course. Access to materials that are not posted pursuant to Section 110(2) might always be acceptable. Access to Section 110(2) materials would be acceptable if they fall within a “class session” that is still ongoing with respect to that student.

[return to top]

5. Section 110(2) is described as applying to distance education. Is access by an enrolled student in their dorm room included in the definition of distance education?

Yes, that access would qualify as a transmission that could use the Section 110(2) exception. See response to Question No. A. 3, supra. Furthermore, Section 110(2) was specifically designed to eliminate the previous requirement of section 110(2) that the student receiving the transmission be located in a classroom or similar place normally devoted to instruction. Therefore, where the enrolled student is physically located is not important.

[return to top]

6. Can students log on and view class sessions at their own pace?

Yes. A class session is generally that period during which a student is logged on to the server of the institution making the display or performance. It is likely to vary with the needs of the student and with the design of the particular course. See also, Question C.4, infra.

[return to top]

7. In invoking the Section 110(2) exception, is it more a matter of the instructor being clear in his/her own mind that the material being used is actually falling under this section or is there further paperwork/notification that needs to be done?

Both. All the items included in Section 110(2) must be satisfied. Some can be done by the faculty member; others should be or need to be implemented at an institutional level.

[return to top]

 

8. The House report indicates that faculty and students can post materials pursuant to Section 110(2). What about instructional technology support staff working for the faculty but not enrolled in the class?

That is OK, provided the faculty member approves it. Section 110(2) requires that postings be under the actual supervision of the faculty member who is teaching the course, but this still allows others to post materials on behalf of the faculty member.

[return to top]

A. Institutional Level Questions | B. Technological Questions | C. Faculty/Content Questions