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Educational Video in 2011

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Copyright Challenge

The prominence of online video in higher education attracted some unwanted attention in 2010 that threatened to put a stopper in the flow of content on university campuses. In January, the University of California–Los Angeles (UCLA) suspended streaming video in its password-protected course websites after receiving a nastygram from the Association for Information and Media Equipment (AIME), an educational media trade group, accusing the university of violating copyright law. 

Citing both fair use provisions of copyright law and the TEACH Act (Technology, Education, and Copyright Harmonization), schools have grown accustomed to allowing faculty to stream copyrighted works to students without obtaining a specific license. However, AIME charged that UCLA was streaming educational media in violation of copyright law, claiming that streaming licenses were necessary. The potential for a lawsuit on the matter caused a chill to go down the spines of campus CIOs across the country. UCLA faculty members and students found their courses suddenly restricted, with many faculty members choosing to drop film and video materials from their syllabuses rather than taking up valuable class meeting time or forcing students to fit in a visit to the campus media lab. 

After an internal investigation, UCLA decided to resume streaming for its spring quarter while also drafting principles outlining the proper use of copyrighted materials within its streaming media platform. Campus CIOs breathed a sigh of relief, and no lawsuit materialized. 

The ripples this event caused in the educational community demonstrate just what an important tool streaming video has become. Had this occurred a decade ago, there still would have been concern, but many campus IT leaders would have been unperturbed. At the time, online video was at best a fringe service, being used in a very small subsection of courses. It’s also unlikely that in 2000 a student newspaper would have editorialized to complain, as the Daily Bruin did, writing, “It is unfair to expect each student to watch films at the media lab between classes. … [T]he quality of course curriculum should not suffer as a result of unclear copyright laws, and professors should not be forced to change their syllabi to comply with them.” 

Enter the OVPs

For educational video professionals, one of the biggest indicators of video’s acceptance is the adoption of online video platforms by scores of colleges and universities, big and small. Kaltura has quickly become a leader in this space, although most OVPs have added educational institutions to their customer rosters. Some schools choose to get started using Kaltura’s free, open source solution, which offers a greater degree of control than relying upon services such as YouTube. Another open source option entered the market in 2010 with the release of Matterhorn 1.0 by the Opencast Community Project.

Whether a platform is free, open source, software as a service, or a self-hosted license, what’s undeniably good for educators is that there is a greater range of choices than ever before. As a result, schools can start managing their online video with relatively small investments of money or staff time, knowing they can scale as necessary. 

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