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The University of Richmond Intellectual Property Policy states that copyright in course materials usually belongs to the faculty member who creates them. This means that you can specify who may reproduce and distribute your course materials. There are two common actions that faculty often follow regarding their content:
- Allow the use of course material for educational, non-commercial purposes. MIT's Open CourseWare and Yale's Open Courses are two examples of successful initiatives under which faculty members allow their lectures, syllabi, and other course materials to be freely shared and distributed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike license. Open course material supports the broad educational mission of the university. The material is still not allowed to be posted to commercial sites, but there is little need since any student can find it on the web.
- Limit the use of material on commercial sites. There are a number of commercial sites, the most prominent of which is Course Hero, that encourage students to post materials. While students are only supposed to post material that they have created or for which they have permission to post, in many cases faculty-authored material is posted without permission. The rest of this page offers steps to follow for faculty who want to locate, and request removal of, copyrighted course materials posted for resale on Internet sites such as Course Hero.
Note: Acknowledgment of thanks to Cornell University for their permission to use their webpage as a template for this guide.
Strategies to Protect Course Materials
- Take a few minutes to educate your students on copyright. Use the resources provided on the Copyright Information webpage or ask a member of the Campus Copyright Committee for information and advice.
- Advise students that selling or distributing your Course Materials may violate the Honor Code at the University of Richmond.
- Include a copyright statement in your course syllabus. The statement should explain that faculty members hold copyright in the course materials they create and, as a result, students are not allowed to reproduce, distribute, or publicly post their course materials without express faculty permission. See a suggested statement.
- Send a copyright infringement notice to any company you learn is distributing your course materials without your authorization. U.S. copyright law contains a process whereby copyright holders can demand that online service providers disable access to or remove material that has been posted on a web site without the copyright owners' authorization and in violation of copyright law.
Websites Known to Redistribute Course Materials
The list of sites that act as markets or bulletin boards for course information changes every day. As of this writing, these are the sites that are the most popular. If you set up a Google Alert, you may want to add these sites to your search terms. Alternatively, you may wish to get an account on the sites in order to locate material that has not been indexed by the search engines. For information on creating accounts on each site, see their web pages.
For More Information
Head, Scholarly Communciations