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Universities in the Digital Age at the Berkman Conference - Issues of Copyright

By Pat Aufderheide
The Berkman biannual Internet & Society conference this year was a chance to brainstorm about the university in a digital age. While industry representatives wanted universities to put their emphasis on stopping peer-to-peer music and video activities by students (they nibble away at media companies' profit models), university librarians, administrators, scholars and teachers by and large thought the emphasis should be elsewhere. They wanted it to be on how academic freedom can best be expressed in a digital era. One sore spot: copyright confusion about the quoting of copyrighted material.

Berkman scholar (and multiple award-winning book author) Lewis Hyde led a discussion of how these problems affect the work of university denizens. Some discoveries:
--Distance-learning teachers and administrators want to know what rights they have to use copyrighted material in distance-learning (as compared with a classroom).
--Librarians are concerned about their responsibilities for copyrighted material in digital archives.
--Teachers who want to post to open-courseware initiatives want to know if it's OK to quote copyrighted material in classes that are open to anyone in the world on the Internet.
These questions may feed into future research initiatives on copyright, Fair Use, and media literacy; Lewis Hyde has joined the research team for the MacArthur-funded media literacy and Fair Use project co-headed by Renee Hobbs, Pat Aufderheide and Peter Jaszi.