Modern instructional practices increasingly rely on information technologies to enhance teaching and learning, and UCLA is committed to employing appropriate technology in support of its educational mission. The copyright dispute with the Association for Information Media and Equipment (AIME) therefore is a matter of critical importance. Because the outcome has the potential to affect many other institutions of higher learning, UCLA is carefully examining the circumstances and implications of the dispute.
UCLA Instructional Media Collections & Services (IMCS), under the auspices of the Office of Instructional Development, spends approximately $45,000 annually to purchase media specifically for instructional uses. In 2005, UCLA began converting titles requested by faculty into a streamable format and making them available to students for coursework. Content examples include Shakespeare productions for English courses, foreign-language films for linguistic and foreign-language courses, and documentaries for history and sociology courses — all integral to the class instruction of students. To protect against unintended uses, streamed material is available only behind password-protected course websites, only to students enrolled in the applicable course, and only via the UCLA intranet. These measures prevent downloading, uploading, file-sharing or copying.
In May 2009, UCLA was approached by a single distributor of DVDs who, for the first time, offered streamed content for instructional purposes. UCLA indicated interest in the new products but also advised that it was streaming previously purchased content. Only after that time did the Association for Information Media and Equipment allege a copyright violation.
UCLA respects copyright and other applicable laws. The exclusive rights protected by copyright are limited, and several exemptions are provided for educational uses. The instructional uses in which UCLA engages are permitted under the exemptions for fair use and face-to-face teaching. The safe harbor of the TEACH Act, which permits transmissions of content for educational purposes, also is applicable. Advances in technology and teaching techniques have broadened the traditional classroom and face-to-face teaching environments well beyond what was envisioned in the Copyright Act; the trade group is in effect challenging that evolution.
In a good-faith effort to allow the parties to discuss possible resolution of the dispute outside the legal system, UCLA temporarily suspended the posting of streamed content, effective at the start of the winter quarter in January 2010. While the content remains available for students to view in the Office of Instructional Development media lab — under extended hours — temporarily suspending streamed content greatly impairs student access and has a detrimental effect on UCLA’s ability to carry out its educational mission.
We hope to resolve this matter as soon as possible.