De Minimis Copying, MOOCs & Institutional Risk Avoidance
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This presentation examines institutional risk avoidance in relation to copyright concerns and MOOCs. Specifically, the presentation focuses on a case study of the Understanding Video Games MOOC developed at the University of Alberta. As part of the development of the MOOC the instructional team desired to put short video clips (10-20 seconds) of video games into the MOOC for educational purposes; however, the University insisted that this could only be done with permission of the rights holder, despite both de minimus and fair dealing arguments put forward for the inclusion of the short clips. The presentation examines the arguments from both sides (instructor and administration) as well as including some discussion of rights holders’ responses to requests for permission. The presentation argues that pervasive risk avoidance by University administrators and a lack of clear guidance around substantiality thresholds, particularly in relation to video games, along with the concerns of rights holders served to undermine the pedagogical goals of the MOOC. In conclusion, University copyright offices and users’ rights proponents need to more firmly underscore the importance of de minimis copying in relation to copyright concerns.