A major challenge for colleges that want to post lecture materials on the Web involves making sure they have permission to use the copyrighted images from journals and other sources that professors have put in their slides. Today the Massachusetts Institute of Technology announced that it has reached a deal with Elsevier, one of the largest journal publishers, to allow a limited amount of material from its journals to be used in MIT’s OpenCourseWare project.
The publisher hasn’t exactly given away the store: The agreement allows the project to use up to three illustrations per journal article, and up to 100 words of text.
But that will save the OpenCourseWare staff members hours and hours of time, and allow them to include some material they might not have bothered to ask about in the past, says Steve E. Carson, external-relations director for the project. “This is not only a cost saver for us, but it also expands the range of things that we can publish,” he says.
Publishing 400 courses online each year involves tracking down permissions for about 6,000 copyrighted items, Mr. Carson says. (The project has one full-time and one part-time employee devoted to doing just that.)
What if you’re not at MIT?
Mark Seeley, vice president and general counsel at Elsevier, says the company has also agreed to a new policy on copyright, set up by the International Association of Scientific, Technical, & Medical Publishers, allowing any college to post small bits of journal material online. The policy doesn’t allow quite as much as the deal with MIT does, however.
Mr. Seeley says Elsevier made the agreement with MIT and agreed to the broader copyright policy because it was seeing an increasing number of requests from colleges to use small amounts of material form its journals. “I think our experience is that actually a lot of the request for permissions are relatively modest,” he says. —Jeffrey R. Young