In today’s digital world, different types of materials, ranging from musics, songs, games, and news to scientific papers and books, are available on internet. There are always questions on how legal it is to publish these materials on Internet (e.g. can one publish someone’s music on internet without his/her permission) and what the the legal aspects of using these materials are? i.e. copyright issues. Stephy (2008) summarises Lawrence Lessig’s opinion on openness for sharing the knowledge and remixing.
In the discussions relevant to openness and sharing course materials, the issues which are always highlighted, first, are relevant to the copyright of the material and how to ensure that the materials will be used legally. In a discussion at our department, a colleague said: “my course materials are very valuable. I have spent a lot of time and efforts to make them ready; of course for the students. But I do not want that other teachers use them for free, without citing me. And how can I keep track of this?”. It was argued that the availability of copyright laws together with current ongoing culturing activities among academic staff decreases worries. But the answer was: “It is in theory. What about the real world and in practice? You say that it decreases the worries. But I am too worry”. Another colleague asked if there are regulations at the department, faculty, or university level about it? “if e.g. the university have regulations avoiding us to share our course materials for free, then we can do nothing about it unless the regulations change”, said him.
In our working group (group 3) another important issue was also discussed: “What about the students who are paying for the courses?”. Many universities around the world receive tuition fee from students. It means that some students pay to get access to the courses. In this situation, is it fair to make the course materials available to everyone for free? Then what is the role of the universities? To charge students just for issuing certificate(?!). There are many issues that should be critically discussed and clarified when one talks about sharing and openness in education.
Stephey, M. J. (2008). Lawrence Lessig: Decriminalizing the Remix. TIME. Available on http://content.time.com/time/business/article/0,8599,1851241,00.html, visited Nov 2016.