The article on Lieration Tecnology caught my attention in this weeks reading. On page three, the author describes MIT’s push to publish the intellectual property created by it’s faculity members online. And while MIT can’t post many of it’s course readings online with out the permission of the authors, this brought an intersting thought to mind. Anyone can get a MIT online syallabus. Coupled with class transcripts, anyone with a computer could virtually take the class. Of course the professor would be under no obligation to give unregistered students a grade or credit for the class, but as long as the potential “student” understood that, what would stop them for taking MIT classes if they wanted. I have to wonder if MIT could be making money off of an online “honorary degree” program, although I know that goes against the cries for free online resoures we read about this week.
The whole subject of copyright (something I addressed as an undergrad film student too) confuses the hell out of me, so I tend to run to the right of Cohen and Rosenzweig(I’m probably somewhere to right of the ultra-conservative right when it comes to Lessig.) I don’t have as much faith in the “reasonable people” in the web community as Rosenzweig and Cohen dothough…the term “fair use” seems to be too much of a fine line that can be crossed at anytime, consciencly or subconsciously.
I like the concept of “free,” almost as much as I love the concept of “guilt free,” but I have to be honest. It almost seems easier, after reading these articles, then to pay a fee to use materials then to “chance” that what you are using is considered “fair use,” and you won’t be sued. I know Rosenzweig and Cohen state they don’t know any historians who have ever wound up in court over digital material, but there just seems to be a lot of dangerous grey area surrounding this subject.