(Apologies for the table layout!)

Copyright and Digital Media in Education


Basic Issues






In May of 1999, the U.S. Copyright Office published its report, "Copyright and Digital Distance Education". Its basic premise is that "emerging markets should be permitted to develop with minimal government regulation" (p. xiv). Among other things, this report recommended:

  • accomodating the new potentials of digital technologies (but keeping the balance between authors' rights and users' rights approximately where they are);
  • permitting asynchronous AV materials in distance education (but in limited portions and protecting copyrighted materials from unauthorized redistribution to non-students);
  • eliminating the notion of a physical classroom from the educational exemption (but limiting the exemption to officially enrolled students).
  • updating §110(2) to accomodate digital transmissions (in particular, allowing transient copies of digital files to the extent required for digital transmission);

The TEACH Act has now incorporated many of these recommendations.

New technologies are coming:

  • systems for managing digital copyright materials;
  • licensing systems for online materials;
  • technological security against unauthorized access and unauthorized redistribution.

In the meantime, the most prudent course for new media staff in educational institutions is to observe the Code of Best Practices in Fair Use from Academic and Research Libraries, (which replaces the CCUMC's "Fair Use Guidelines for Educational Multimedia").

Last modified:
Jay C. Treat, Ph.D.