Table of Contents

Situations Related to Ethical Principles

1. Fulfilling the letter or the spirit of the law?

2. Ensuring diverse points of view

3. Putting a square peg in a round hole

4. Protecting an individual's right to privacy

5. Ethical decisions in instructional media selection

6. Computers: Issues of health and safety

7. Adopting and promoting new ideas

8. A clash of cultures

9. Harassment, bias, and discrimination

10. Whose views? Yours or your institutions?

11. All the facts, please

12. Competing with your employer

13. Handling gifts, gratuitites, and favors

14. Engaging in fair and equitable practices with vendors

15. Greasing the squeaky wheel

16. Influencing your colleagues

17. Exploiting professional affiliations

18. Helping one another

19. Is honesty the best answer?

20. An ethical approach to doing business

21. Fair assignment of responsibility

22. Facing new copyright challenges

23. When a colleague is wrong

Facing New Copyright Challenges

The Situation
Professor Jane Salisbury envisioned a tremendous future for the new distance education system originating from her campus and networking the entire state. The new system of one-way video and interactive audio opened the possibility for interested individuals to access university degree programs even in the most remote rural areas of the state. Jane accepted the responsibility to facilitate a distance education program in her department and was determined to be one of the first faculty members to use the system when the next semester was to begin.

As planning progressed, Jane soon encountered problems. She was accustomed to using a number of films in her courses. Whereas a film could be shown to 35 students in a conventional classroom, she was informed that to broadcast the film to 35 students in seven locations would be a violation of copyright laws. Furthermore, she learned that to videotape seven copies of the film to be shown at the seven locations would also be a violation. It seemed as though the copyright laws had been written expressly to thwart the successful use of new technologies,

None of the alternatives that she considered seemed practical. To omit the films from her course would significantly weaken the instruction. To circulate each film to the seven locations would be cumbersome and, even worse, make it impossible to coordinate the showing of the film with the related course topics. To gain permission from the film distributors to either broadcast the films or distribute video copies was proving to be frustrating because inquiries were yielding either indecisive responses or expensive solutions to her dilemma. Jane was beginning to wonder why her university had even bothered to set up a statewide distance education network if such a system was unable to distribute a high quality of instruction.


The AECT Code of Ethics—Section 3, Principle 8
In fulfilling obligations to the profession, the member shall inform users of the stipulations and interpretations of the copyright law and other laws affecting the profession and encourage compliance.

Professor Salisbury has found herself in a situation that will become increasingly common as the introduction of new technologies to education continues to accelerate. When laws are written, it is impossible to predict and address all of the circumstances that these emerging technologies will introduce. In Jane's case, the distance educators and educational technologists with whom she is working have fulfilled their obligation to inform her of existing laws and what those laws indicate she can and cannot do. However, recognizing that this kind of change is inevitable, those who work with new technologies and educational systems as well as the producers and distributors of instructional materials have an added professional obligation. As they encounter new situations it is incumbent upon them to develop new business arrangements, policies, procedures, and instructional support services that protect the rights and interests of commercial vendors while assisting the instructional staff in using their teaching resources appropriately. In this way, technology professionals at institutions such as Jane Salisbury's university can go beyond an enforcement role relative to the "stipulations and interpretations of the copyright law" and assume a facilitative role to assist professors as they integrate distance education techniques and new technologies into their instructional programs.

J. Nicholls Eastmond, Jr.
Professor of Instructional Technology
Utah State University

Updated January 21, 2008
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