Main Nav

Update on Those Dammed UCLA Videos

On January 30, I reported on UCLA's decision to temporarily stop faculty from posting streaming videos on course Web pages. That decision was taken in response to a threatened copyright-infringement lawsuit from AIME, the Association for Information and Media Equipment. AIME's president indicated that his organization has other campuses in its sights.

Since that time there have been additional press reports (from, e.g., Inside Higher Education and The Chronicle) and commentary from public interest groups (such as Public Knowledge), but these have added little new information. On the other hand, the comments associated with these reports and others are worth reading, with special mention to these two:

  • My ICPL colleague Steve McDonald, General Counsel for the Rhode Island School of Design, provided an excellent analysis of how Fair Use and the TEACH Act might apply to the UCLA case. See comment #10 on Kevin Smith's blog.
  • Pat Aufderheide, Professor of Communication and Director of the Center for Social Media at American University, provided an essay titled "It's Time for Fair Use" as a comment to the original IHE article.

In addition, just yesterday, UCLA issued its official statement on the matter. The statement confirms that the suspension of access is temporary, but highlights that even the temporary suspension is causing real harm:

...temporarily suspending streamed content greatly impairs student access and has a detrimental effect on UCLA's ability to carry out its educational mission.

The UCLA statement confirms and clarifies what's previously been reported in the press and the blogs, but this section caught my eye:

UCLA Instructional Media Collections & Services (IMCS), under the auspices of the Office of Instructional Development, spends approximately $45,000 annually to purchase media specifically for instructional uses. In 2005, UCLA began converting titles requested by faculty into a streamable format ... To protect against unintended uses, streamed material is available only behind password-protected course websites ...

In May 2009, UCLA was approached by a single distributor of DVDs who, for the first time, offered streamed content for instructional purposes. UCLA indicated interest in the new products but also advised that it was streaming previously purchased content. Only after that time did the Association for Information Media and Equipment allege a copyright violation.

Someone with a suspicious mind might imagine a connection between the timing of AIME's complaint about UCLA's home-grown approach to streaming media and the offer to sell UCLA an alternative approach.

But it's probably just a coincidence.



A March 3 press release from UCLA <> announces the resumption of streaming of video content and includes a (not terribly obvious) link toa(n excellent) set of principles: <>.

  It is well worth reading.