Friday, August 11, 2006

Chilling Effects

There's a great new white paper out from the Berkman Center for the Internet and Society at Harvard, "The Digital Learning Challenge: Obstacles to Educational Uses of Copyrighted Material in the Digital Age." It documents how the TEACH Act has been ineffective at calming the fears of litigation-wary administrators and how teachers are missing pedagogical opportunities to share rich primary sources with students, in convenient digital form, because they work in an environment of copyright cowardice. The paper also says that fears of DMCA orders are also driving many campuses toward closed course management tools with proprietary software from firms like Web CT or Blackboard, so that institutions of higher education would be even more separated from the public sphere (and permanently saddled with packages that constrain electronic educational environments). Check out the Sakai Project for an open source alternative to course management tools.

In short, this paper is a must-read for anyone interested in either teaching or intellectual property issues.



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