Copyright, Contract, or Complicated? AIME vs. UCLA Dismissed: Implications for Licensing

12 01 2012

For many months, the academic world has been keeping an eye on a potentially critical lawsuit brought by AIME (the Association for Media and Equipment) and Ambrose Video Publishing (Ambrose or AVP) against UCLA (or more specifically, the Regents and several named university officials in their administrative and individual capacity). The plaintiffs, AIME and AVP, sued UCLA because the institution was purchasing education dvds (some from AVP, others from AIME association members), circumventing the technological protections embedded in the dvds, and then streaming (transmitting) the entire movies in their online, password-protected course management system. . . .

On October 3, 2011, the trial judge dismissed the case in a brief (13 page) order. At last, academia thought, an answer, or at least some copyright guidance. Instead of being a copyright case, however, this case became a civil procedure and contract case with copyright mentioned primarily for its characteristic of being a federal law.

The bottom line is that the copyright questions were not reached in the actual holdings. In her order granting defendant’s motion to dismiss, the course never reached the copyright questions on their own merit. Any passing reference to copyright is at best hopeful dictum, which cannot be pulled out of context and mischaracterized as a “copyright win”. It certainly does not stand for the proposition that streaming entire copyrighted films within password protected course management systems is lawful.

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Educational Video Streaming: A Short Primer

23 02 2011

Arnie Lutzker has taught many times for the Center for Intellectual Property. In the past, he presented at various CIP seminars and conferences. And he contributed a chapter to the CIP Handbook. Arnie is a great copyright teacher and the CIP staff welcomes his wisdom and insight.

Recently, Arnie wrote an article on the dispute between the Association for Information Media and Equipment (AIME) and UCLA. To be fair, Arnie is representing AIME and so this article should be read with an understanding that he is advocating on their behalf. Nevertheless, I think his analysis and observations should substantively contribute to the ongoing discussion of this very important subject of streaming video to classes.

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Read Educational Video Streaming – A Short Primer (PDF)

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Library Copyright Alliance Enters the Online Video Discussion

23 02 2011

I meant to post this information when it came out recently but better late than never. For those of you following the conversation on whether or not the law permits educational institutions to stream entire movies or videos within an online course, the Library Copyright Alliance has joined the discussion with an issue brief accessible from this site: http://www.arl.org/news/pr/Streaming-Films-19feb10.shtml

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No Fair Use For E-Reserves Or Online Courses?

23 02 2011

Many of you, like me, have been watching the publishers’ (plaintiffs) lawsuit against Georgia State University (GSU) concerning the amount of copyrighted material posted in the University’s electronic reserves and online course management systems, pursuant to fair use. The burning question for me is how much was too much for the publishers?

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Streaming Video Online: Think About This First

23 02 2011

I’m sure many of you have read last week’s Inside Higher Ed’s interesting, if somewhat confusing, article entitled “Hitting Pause On Class Videos”, http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2010/01/26/copyright.

In short, the story reports that the Association for Information and Media Equipment (AIME) is alleging that UCLA faculty members are infringing copyright by streaming entire (presumably) videos via their access protected course web sites. As I read the article, it appears as though UCLA is trying to defend this practice under Section 110(1), which only applies to traditional face to face (F2F) classroom settings. It is true that under that section an entire video can be show as long as it is lawfully made (p.s., rented movies are “lawfully made”).

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UCLA To Start Streaming Entire Movies Online Again

3 03 2010

In a statement released today, UCLA announced that it will restart its former practice of streaming (entire) movies/videos within an accessed controlled online classroom. You can see this announcement here. The news release article contains links to a principals document that outlines the rationale, if you will, UCLA is advancing.

I find the document confusing from a legal standpoint. To me, fair use is tangled in with 110(1), the face-to-face performance exception which is further tangled up with 110(2), the TEACH Act and topped off with the concept of time-shifting (from the Sony case) and the argument that virtual classrooms should be no different than physical classrooms regardless of how the law reads. Favorable pieces of one section of the law are taken out of context and combined with pieces from somewhere else. The idea that the same performance can be in both 110(1) and 110(2) simultaneously is very confusing.

Peggy
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Educational fair use: a provocation

1 04 2009

Some years ago, I was in a meeting with a high IP official of a certain political administration (neither of which will be named here), discussing exceptions to copyright law and trying to make the point that these were critical to the mission of secondary and higher education, which were (even then) cash-strapped. The unnamed official had a simple response to this argument, which ran (in effect) like this:

These days, education is big business, and a big market for copyrighted material. If copyright licenses cost to much, the right answer isn’t to impose costs on copyright owners but to go back to education funders and ask for additional appropriations to cover rights clearances.

Somehow, this line didn’t seem right then, and it doesn’t seem right now. But the argument may be a bit more difficult to counter than some educators believe (or hope). It is, however, important that we prepare to do so, as we gird for a struggle over the future of educational fair use.
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