I first will define the exclusive rights under Copyright Law. According to Landy, exclusive rights include reproduction or the right to make copies; distribution or the right to sell or rent those same copies; public performance which gives the copyright holder the right to display the copyrighted item in public and derivatives which is the basic right to create works based on a specific work. (Landy & Mastrobattista, 2008)
In virtual education, copyright laws would not apply on content as no author of any curriculum either owns the idea, concept or principle of both education and online education. If an individual were to create for example, a method of delivery of the curriculum that is totally new to the industry, then this intellectual property would be protected under a patent. (Landy & Mastrobattista, 2008)
Several rules have been formed to protect digital works and their privacy that exist not only in the U.S., but are recognized worldwide. This enactment is known as the The Digital Millennium Copyright Act or DMCA. ("The digital millennium copyright act of 1998," 1998) This legislation mandates that the members of this act will prevent avoiding technological measures used to defend those works that are protected under a copyright.
One obvious violation that I see right away for virtual education is the violation of the copyright via creating a derivative work. Often in virtual education, curriculum designers will utilize games as a learning tool. If for example, the designer were to create a counting game for first grade students using Disney characters, without a license to do so they would be in violation of Disney’s copyright as those characters, or any facsimile thereof, would be considered a derivative work. (Landy & Mastrobattista, 2008) Not only would the characters themselves be an infringement of the copyright, any reference to a book, a movie or another game would constitute copyright infringement.
An interesting part of copyright rules that would apply to say, a book, may or may not apply to software. An example that Lindy uses is that if I were to purchase a copy of a book by Stephen King that is copyright protected, I can resell that same book to anyone, at anytime that I would like. However, he goes on to state that this “first sale” principle may not apply to software as it is often licensed. This means that this software cannot be transferred to another party without the permission of the licensor. (Landy & Mastrobattista, 2008)
A current issue with copyright infringement involves LimeWire.com and a $1 billion lawsuit by the recording industry. (Gardner, 2011) Currently, LimeWire is fighting for proof of revenues that have been lost both by the record companies, and third party companies such as Amazon.com and Apple. I visited the LimeWire website after reading this Reuters article and this splash page was found;
“LimeWire is under a court order dated October 26, 2010 to stop distributing the LimeWire software. A copy of the injunction can be found here. LimeWire LLC, its directors and officers, are taking all steps to comply with the injunction. We have very recently become aware of unauthorized applications on the internet purporting to use the LimeWire name. We demand that all persons using the LimeWire software, name, or trademark in order to upload or download copyrighted works in any manner cease and desist from doing so. We further remind you that the unauthorized uploading and downloading of copyrighted works is illegal.” (homepage, 2011)
Although the music is not software, it is a digital download and is relevant to this topic. It is also obvious that LimeWire is destined to be in bankruptcy court very soon for violation of copyright regulations as well as infringement on intellectual property among other regulations.
Finally, the purposes of the copyright laws are to protect the author and prevent unauthorized reproduction of all types of work.
The digital millennium copyright act of 1998, Pub. L. No. 105-304, 112 Stat. 2860 (Oct. 28, 1998). C.F.R. (1998).
Gardner, E. (2011). LimeWire fighting to bitter end. Reuters,
homepage, L. (2011). from LimeWire.com
Landy, G. K., & Mastrobattista, A. J. (Eds.). (2008). The IT/ Digital Legal Companion: A comprehensive business guide to software, internet, and IP law Burlington: Syngress Publishing, Inc.