on closed content as copyright violation obfuscation


I was present at a faculty collaboration project meeting today, and one of the profs was showing some of the resources they've built to support their classroom teaching. It was some impressive video work, which the prof admitted could easily have applications in other classes, or institutions, or even other disciplines. He then went on to describe the rigorous steps that he'd had to take in order to prevent that from happening - video being hosted on an internal streaming server so nobody could find it without seeing the video embedded on a course within Blackboard. He was struggling to implement the embedding as effectively as he wanted. When asked why that was necessary, why not just put the video onto YouTube or Google Video? They had actually thought of that initially - it solves the bandwidth, hosting, and embedding problems quite nicely.

But they couldn't let non-registered-students see the video because it contained several pieces of media that would involve rather blatant copyright violations if distributed outside the context of the course.

It struck me how much effort and energy was being expended to protect disclosure of these violations, and how relatively easy it would have been to just avoid potential copyright violations in the first place by using Creative Commons and/or Public Domain media instead of commercial.

It then got me wondering - how much of the content generated by institutions is simply not sharable - not as a result of philosophical, technical nor design constraints, but because there wasn't thought put into the implications of integrating copyrighted materials into this content?

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