Cal State Long Beach is currently undergoing changes in its campus media server due to legal examination over copyright issues, according to an email sent on Oct. 11 to faculty from Francine Vasilomanolakis, the instructional design coordinator for Academic Technology.
Dean of the Library Roman Kochan and Associate Dean Tracey Mayfield discovered that videos from VHS tapes and DVDs were being taken and reformatted by faculty for online streaming on an unsecure server.
Mayfield explained that even if the video stream was put on BeachBoard, the stream that was created on the unsecure server was automatically out in the public for anyone to see. This made the school liable for this copyrighted material.
Under federal law, copyright protects an author or creator’s original work and dictates that permission must be given in order to use it.
“Copyright, in some form or another, is an issue on every campus,” Mayfield said. “Because basically what happens is, unless faculty are creating their own materials from scratch, they’re using somebody else’s materials.”
Some material can be excepted from copyright law, known as “fair use,” if it is serving solely educational purposes and no profit is being made.
However, this is not an excuse to convert any materials needed. Permission from the author or creator of the material may still be needed.
“It’s always frustrating to know there are resources out there and we can’t make them accessible,” said Christopher Lowe, biological sciences professor and director of the CSULB Shark Lab. “As somebody who produces things, I like the protection that comes with copyright but on the other hand, as an educator, it’s frustrating.”
According to Mayfield, hybrid classes, instruction given online and face-to-face, have made it a little more difficult to make sure the resources given are copyright compliant. Copyright can change when someone is dealing with a face-to-face class rather than an online class. In an in-person class, a professor can easily show a video to his or her class because it is only presented to the students physically in the room.
Professors are responsible for making sure that material placed online is copyright compliant, which means it must be secure.
In order to secure the material, it can only be posted for a specific amount of time, students can only have access through a password and students must lose access to it at the end of the semester.
“To avoid copyright issues with the videos I use online, I always link to external sources instead of embedding the videos within the BeachBoard framework,” said Jennifer Fleming, journalism history professor. “For videos that are not available for free on an external source, I usually put a DVD copy of the video on reserve in the library or sometimes I might ask students to rent the video from Amazon, iTunes or Google Play.”
Every semester, Mayfield will be training faculty for hybrid courses to make sure they are trained properly on how to comply with copyright.
In addition, in the last year and a half, Mayfield and Academic Technology Service have purchased licenses for 18 different streaming packages and have placed them on a website where faculty can easily search for legally-streaming videos and import them onto BeachBoard.
On these subscription services, faculty can search through thousands of videos on university databases.
The most popular are Films on Demand and Kanopy, which allow faculty to create playlist or clip lists.
“Probably one of the biggest issues [is that] faculty are used to what they’re use to and sometimes they want a particular film and in certain cases, they can’t be helped. It’s just not available,” Mayfield said. “It’s a matter of [having] to use these materials legally.”