The cost of copyright
D’Arcy Norman’s recent post illustrates the (not so) hidden costs of copyrighted materials. They are easier to find, but because of DMCA/TEACH and similar laws, ultimately more expensive to deploy. The comments on this post are a great read as well. I’ve felt for a long time that one of the additional costs of a reliance on copyrighted materials is that much of the development energy for LMSs goes into copyright management rather than tools that actually support learning.
I’ve done enough teaching to understand that there’s no practical way to avoid using some copyrighted materials–a contemporary lit class would be a difficult one to pull off, for instance, without copyrighted works. The problem is that is in using these materials–and the protection measures they require–a lot of material that doesn’t need to be locked up gets hidden behind firewalls. As a best practice, then, only lock up what you have to. Get the syllabi, the assignments, the quotes used in the context of criticism, etc. out there. Over time, this will help move things in the right direction.