It has taken a while to get here, but I am happy to be able to announce that two of my colleagues and I  will be offering a four-week MOOC on copyright designed to assist teachers and librarians deal with the daily challenges they encounter in regard to managing what they create and using what they need.

The MOOC will be offered on the Coursera platform and will run for the first time starting July 21.  It is available as of today for folks to sign up at

It has been a great pleasure working with Anne Gilliland from the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill and Lisa Macklin from Emory University to create this course.  I hope and believe that the course is much stronger because the three of us worked together than it could possibly have been if any one of us did it alone.

This course will be four weeks in duration and focuses on U.S. copyright law.  While we are well aware of all the MOOC participants from other countries — and welcome folks from all over to join us — we also wanted to keep the course short and as focused as possible.  We hope perhaps to do other courses over time, and a more in-depth attention to international issues and to how copyright works on the global Internet might be a good future topic.  In the meanwhile, this course deals with the U.S. law and the specific situations and issues that arise for librarians and educators at all levels.

We especially hope to attract K-12 teachers, who encounter many of the same issues that arise in higher education, and who often have even fewer resources to appeal to for assistance.  That is one reason for the summertime launch.

Another point about the focus in this course — our goal is to provide participants with a practical framework for analyzing copyright issues that they encounter in their professional work. We use a lot of real life examples — some of them quite complex and amusing — to help participants get used to the systematic analysis of copyright problems.

For many in the academic library community, the winding up of the courses offered by the Center for Intellectual Property at the University of Maryland University College has left a real gap.  This course is intentionally a first step toward addressing that gap.  It is, of course, free, and a statement of accomplishment is available for all participants who complete the course.  We hope this can assist our colleagues in education with some professional development, and maybe, depending on local requirements, even continuing education requirements.

We very much hope that this course will be a service to the library and education community, and that it provides a relatively fun and painless way to go deeper into copyright than the average presentation or short workshop allows.


13 Responses to A MOOC on copyright

  1. john says:

    I look forward to follow the training

    Thank you,

  2. Arlene Bielefield says:

    I want to sign up for this course, but when I went to, there was no place to do it. HELP! ;D Arlene

  3. Janet Hensel says:

    I tried to sign up today but after I filled out the form the green button would not function. Could not sign up.

  4. Lisa Hopkins says:

    I am so grateful that you are offering this MOOC–and I cannot believe you are offering it for free! This is a huge service to the community!

  5. Susan says:

    Will you be including issues of particular interest to archivists, such as unpublished letters?

  6. I am looking forward to learn more about copyright issues in America. Which helps to borden my professional knowledge.

  7. Ellyn says:

    I am an elementary school media specialist. Will this course be appropriate for me?

  8. Kevin Smith, J.D. says:

    Just want to reply to several of these questions. Yes, we intend the course to be appropriate for teachers at all levels, from elementary school thru college. As far as specific coverage is concerned, the course in intentionally introductory, so we will use some specific examples — i can’t recall if we explicitly discuss unpublished letters — but many of the principles we teach, about copyright term, fair use and seeking permission, for example, will certainly be relevant to archivists.

  9. Beth says:

    I will be on vacation without access to the Internet for the first week of the course. Is the course designed so that anyone unable to ‘attend’ the four consecutive weeks should wait until a future session? Thanks.

    • Kevin Smith, J.D. says:

      The course takes place over four weeks, with each week’s materials released on Monday of the relevant week. I believe the older materials will stay up and available to course participants throughout the four weeks of the course, so if you actual start during the second week, it would be possible to go back to week 1 material and catch up.