The following is general information. Instructors and students who have concerns and want to learn more about a specific situation need to seek further information.

eLearning at West Valley College holds faculty accountable to the highest code of ethics, including the understanding that, as stated in Section 6, Faculty Rights and Protection, in the WVC Faculty Handbook, "Faculty have an obligation to prevent academic dishonesty by ensuring that students do their own work. Types of dishonesty include copying from others, turning in work that is not the student's own, and using references without appropriate citation." To that aim, understanding copyright/fair use/intellectual property, particularly as they relate to the virtual classroom, is of utmost importance.

Copyright is a legal concept that gives the creator of an original work exclusive rights to it, at least for a limited time. Copyright is also the right to copy a work while giving the creator credit for that work, even when there are "fair" exceptions to the creator's exclusivity. In the United States, the fair use doctrine, codified by the Copyright Act of 1976 as 17 U.S.C. Section 107, allows for some copyrighted intellectual property to be used, depending on the amount and proportion of the whole work that is being copied, the nature of the work, the purpose of copying the work, and the effect on the copyrighted work. Essentially, "fair use" is a limitation and exception to the exclusive right a creator holds. (For additional information about the relationship between copyright, fair use and intellectual property, peruse the United Nations' World Intellectual Property Organization website and publications by the Library of Congress such as this pamphlet. This website is also helpful: 10 Big Myths about copyright explained.)

eLearning at West Valley College considers copyright/fair use/intellectual property issues very seriously. Faculty understand that although fair use doctrine allows for faculty and students to use copyrighted intellectual property for educational (non-profit) activities, there are many complexities and therefore each situation must be assessed critically. Faculty are familiar with the 21st Century Department of Justice Appropriations Authorization Act and the The T.E.A.C.H. Act (Technology, Education, and Copyright Harmonization Act), which were passed by the United States Congress in 2002 in an effort to clarify how copyright works in online/distance education. For additional information, instructors may consult the WVC Alternate Media Specialist at 741.2063 and review documents such as the crash course compiled by the University System of Texas, an analysis by the American Library Association, and resources compiled by the Association of Research Libraries. A Copyright Permissions Request Form may be obtained from the Alternate Media Specialist.


Information for Faculty Concerning Students' Responsibilities

eLearning at West Valley College holds students accountable to the highest code of ethics, and does not tolerate dishonest behavior, including, as stated in the Student Conduct Policy, "Dishonesty (such as cheating, plagiarism, or knowingly furnishing false information to the College or to a College/District official)." The Student Conduct Policy further clarifies that, "Students are subject to State and Federal laws and to the specific regulations established by the District and/or each College in the District. Violators shall be subject to disciplinary action, including possible cancellation of registration, and may be denied future admission to the Colleges of the District. Criminal actions may also result in referral for prosecution." All reprinted articles and audiovisual materials must comply with current copyright laws and include full bibliographic citations.

Specific policies and procedures are also posted electronically, for instance, the WVC Technology Center Policies and Procedures affirms that "Lab software and resource materials are copyrighted with all rights reserved. Under copyright laws, these items may not be copied, photocopied, reproduced, translated or reduced to any electronic medium or machine readable form, in whole or in part. Any violation, or attempted violation, of copyright laws will result in the immediate suspension of lab privileges, disciplinary action by the college and/or lawsuit." Additionally, WVC supports the Higher Education Opportunity Act and Digital Millennium Copyright Act, including efforts to eliminate the illegal distribution of copyrighted material. For more information, review "Illegal Distribution of Copyrighted Materials and the West Valley Mission Community College District's policy on "Computer and Technology Use."

last published: 8/26/16