Meera Nair

Disgruntled … but with some good news

In Posts on September 17, 2010 at 8:15 pm

The start of the new term did not proceed as smoothly as I would have liked; personnel changes, a refurbished classroom that looked nice but did not have internet access, and the mysterious reduction of my courseware order (only 60% of the quantity was filled) made for some tension. Dealing with the first two challenges was manageable (largely because of the wonderful departmental and systems staff – thank you!) However, the courseware problem was not easily resolved.

While many of my course readings are from sources already available to students, I still rely on some material from print publications. Material which is needed at the start of the term. The delay in providing courseware to students compromises their learning experience. It will be no picnic to digest three weeks’ of readings in one week, and, it makes a mockery of my edict: Work consistently through the term.

The irritation provoked this thought – what if I could make the courseware myself? With the appropriate copyright payments. Of course, it is strictly forbidden for individuals to do this, only the sanctioned production units of higher education are permitted to distribute courseware. So (in the words of a former prime minister) let me be absolutely clear; I’m just engaging in a dream world speculation where a free market exists and any individual who will abide by the laws of copyright may participate in the distribution of works.

What does this entail?
1) Collect the content [already done].
2) Create the physical composition of the materials [photocopiers beckon].
3) Make the appropriate payment to the copyright holder contingent upon negotiations that include consideration of fair dealing.

The last part may require some effort, but is possible. I have contact information for each work, namely the author and publisher. But, out of curiosity, I tried Access Copyright’s “Get Permission to Copy” license wizard.

The license wizard asks for work to be identified by “Publication Title, ISBN/ISSN number, or Publisher Name.” (I had expected to see an option for “Author.”) I looked for two suitable works under the titles of “Cultural Industries” and “Moral Rights.” I did not find any works by the authors I currently use, but the material offered by up Access Copyright was interesting. Both lists contained references to works that were published by the Canadian Journal of Communication. CJC committed itself to the use of online publishing and open access in 1994, and the archives are online. As best as I can tell, the AC wizard does not mention that information.

So, the good news is that I found another open journal work that could substitute for one of my print-licensed works. Haven’t quite decided on the second … but there’s time before I need to submit the next courseware order.

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