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CLASS 9: Important Legal Issues to Know About Concerning the Internet; Other Virtual Media: Teleconferencing and Distance Learning

Fair Use, Copyright, and Trademark Issues:

We seldom really see the repercussions of misuse of information found on WWW sites or copyrighted information so it is not readily apparent that there are, indeed, serious repercussions. Lawsuits and legal fees wouldn’t necessarily be the worst that could happen either. There could actually be seizure of your computer and all of your stored data on diskettes or zip disks if you were sued by the Federal Communications Commission. And ignorance is no excuse in the “eyes of the law.” So, to protect yourselves from potential liability, here are just a few of the rules to remember when publishing anywhere, including the World Wide Web or other internet venues:

  1. Not all copyrighted materials indicate they are copyrighted. Consider anything that is published as being, de facto, copyrighted. In a lawsuit, 90% of the time, the courts would. This doesn’t mean that you can’t quote something on a site, or that you can’t link to a site, but it does mean you need to observe certain rules of protocol and netiquette. Write or call for permission if you are linking with a personal website, or if you are quoting over forty words of a quote. (The “forty word” rule of thumb is a standard observed world-wide, however legal precedents can change, so it is not a legal defense against liability.) You always need to cite your sources, even if the quotes are less than forty words.
     
  2. Pictures and graphics need to have permission too, likewise for using someone else’s trademark. It is always best to get permissions in writing whenever possible. Photographs also fall under this category, so be sure to get signatures from everyone in a photo you are using. Even if it is a professional model, get a release to use the picture in writing. Minimal information on the release should include a statement that gives you permission to use and/or reproduce and/or sell the photograph (picture or graphic), the signature of the party (or parties), and the date.
     
  3. Avoid any inflamatory or profane use of language or threats, and be very careful of links to other sites that could include this information. Some scary examples exist of webmasters and electronic publishers being arrested and their computers confiscated over obscure links to sites with hacker information, incendiaries, and pediphiles. Know what you are linking to and periodically check those links.
     
  4. There are questions that abound about “fair use,” and “educational fair use.” Try to keep alert to precedents that could change relevent to these applications because as they change, the results could affect your sites.
     
  5. Software piracy is illegal. There is shareware and freeware available, but even those have limitations in what you can do with them. It is not legal to pirate those either, and repackage and/or market them in your own product. This should be obvious and not need mentioning, but often it is not viewed as plegerizing to the erstwhile designer chafing to expedite their new product. Don’t do it.
     
  6. First amentment rights are debated hotly in the virtual realm. To best avoid potential legal issues with respect to first amendment rights, avoid inflammatory issues like pornography, bombings, assassinations, you get the idea..
     
  7. Avoid gender, race, or religious statements or graphics.
     
  8. Here are a few websites that can provide further information on the legal ramifications of virtual publishing:

    http://law.house.gov
    http://lcweb.loc.gov/copyright
    http://www.benedict.com/
    http://www.bitlaw.com/internet/
    http://www.eff.org/pub/Legal/
    http://www.eff.org/blueribbon/
    http://www.eff.org/pub/Legal/CyberLaw_Course/
    http://www.ilpf.org

    One final note on copyrights and trademarks: It is always a good idea when considering the legalities of electronic publishing to use the same rules that apply to paper documents to electronic documents.
     

Teleconferencing:
“Teleconferencing describes the interaction of students and instructors via some form of telecommunications technology (Moore, M., Kearsley, G. [1997]. Distance Education: A Systems View. NY: Wadsworth Publishing.) There are several types of teleconferencing:
audio, audiographics, video, and computer (which includes internet conferencing, video-telephone, and state-of-the art technology).

Audio: The original teleconferencing, it is the least expensive technology for teleconferencing. Participants are connected by telephone and use speker phones or push-talk microphones.It has been used in both commercial and educational venues for over thirty years.

Audiographics: This method can use telephone lines combined with faxes and/or computers to transmite visuals, electronic blackboards, television monitors, digitizing cameras, to convey information and promote interaction from students and/or participants.

Videoconferencing: Teleconferencing can be conveyed via satellite, compressed video (slow scan), cable, and fibre-optics. The most common vehicles are satellite and cable transmissions, but may local sites can transmit and receive “slow-scan” or compressed video. (This is 10-15 frames per second delivery as opposed to normal television 30 frames per second.) Compressed video requires digital phone lines and compression decoders (Codecs) on each end of the conference, hence can be very expensive.

Computer: can include CD-ROM’s, diskettes, “CUCME” software,  Picture/V-Tel technology, listservs, chat rooms. “Newer instructional programs embody more sophisticated learning strategies such as inquiry, simulation, or collaboration (Moore,M., Kearsley, G., 1997.)” Hypertext/hypermedia can provide a rich learning environment for learners in both educational facilities and corporations.

Some sites with additional information about teleconferencing:
www.vtel.com
www.itv.net/front.htm

Distance Education:
This is a broad subject, far too broad to be covered in one-third of a class. But I wanted to introduce you to distance education so that, when you heard the term, you would have a general idea of what it meant. In general, distance education applies to any course where the student is not sitting next to, working with, the instructor. It is not new, and in fact dates back to the first time a student sent schoolwork back to an instructor over a hundred years ago. Modern interpretations of distance education have evolved to the contemporary on-line courses available at universities like the University of Houston and correspondence schools all over the world.

Currently, many distance education courses are taught with state-of-the industry/art technologies, but can be taught using variations of the teleconferencing-types of conveyances mentioned earlier. Usually the instructor has some way of receiving questions from the student and can convey tests, etc., via telephone lines or direct submissions on-line.

While the most common type of distance education transmission remains cable television, more and more courses are being offered on-line. Courses, because of the lack of “one-on-one” interning under the tutelage of the instructor, must be created using compensations like chat rooms or listservs so that the student has interaction with the instructor. Various hybrids of distance education courses offer teacher assistants, regional site locations, and other types of occasional interactions with instructors or representatives in order to keep the student tied in to the university and/or school. 

Distance education courses must be created to include not only course content, but instructor delivery, and student access. Theory and philosophy must also be included in course content. In addition, visual and graphic design of the course must also be considered when preparing web courses. All of these considerations must be given full attention to maximize teaching opportunities when using distance learning delivery systems.

Next, we are going to talk about what will be on your final exams and papers.

A LOOK AT WHAT YOU WILL NEED FOR YOUR FINAL EXAM AND PAPER:

Each student will be responsible for the paper which should be 10 pages and have at least 10 cites (at least 7 on-line) and 3 paper references from periodicals, books, or journals. If you are working in a group for your final presentation, you may also prepare the paper as a group.

You can work in a group of 2-3 for your final presentation. Remember, each one of your group , however, will be presenting a part of your presentation, so it will be important to have each person do her/his share of the work.

Your presentations will be longer for your final, and, since we have 2 nights to present your finals, will be as follows:

Individual presenters  =  3 minutes
Groups of 2 = 6 minutes (3 minutes each member)
Groups of 3 = 9 minutes (3 minutes each member)

Your presentation does not have to be on your paper...but also can be if you choose. You have creative license! Also, if you are planning to use your mid-term for your final, you can, but be sure to substantially change, add, develop, your midterm. I have a very long and precise memory when it comes to presentations, so “morph” that midterm and develop it in more detail if you choose to use it again as your final.

We will go over the final several times over the weeks ahead. Please feel free to ask any questions. Also remember you can always schedule some time to meet with me if you have any concerns or ideas you want to go over. Just call or e-mail me. My office hours are also on the syllabus, Tuesdays from 5:30-6:30, and in the lab outside the classroom on Tuesdays from 6:30 until class.

Your presentations do not have to be on your websites! Although, it would probably be a good use of your time to prepare your final preparation as a website, you can present your final similarly to your mid-terms, with a selection of URL’s that demonstrate websites, or another way to present your final that uses technology.
 

  1. All of your homework from mid-term onwards will be due on April 21st, which means you are going to have a distance education, on-line class that week, so just be sure you turn the work in to me the week before, or the week of April 14th.
     
  2. Your portfolio of all of your semester’s work will be due on the night of your final. PLEASE DO NOT FORGET IT, it is 5% of your final grade! I will check it that night and return it to you by leaving it in my office for you to pick up any time after May 5th..You will also be able to pick up any remaining diskettes from homework assignments, your diskettes or zip disks of your final presentations and websites from me at that time too.

CLASS 9 Homework Assignment: A one paragraph about what copyright/trademark issues you will need to be mindful of when you prepare your own website. Be sure you put your name on your diskette or hard copy. Do not turn this assignment in on your webboard or via e-mail.

We will do some work via your webboard on the World Wide Web the week I will not be in class. You will be going to your webboard at http://www.cl.uh.edu/itc/scripts/COMM4031/wwwboard/wwwboar d.html
and doing your work from home that week. It will not take longer than a maximum of a half-hour to do, so you can use the rest of that class time to work on your final presentations and/or final papers. Remember the percentage for your grades is as provided on your class syllabus, as follows:
Grades, Assignments, and Evaluations:                  Weighting of Final Course Grade

Attendance and participation   15%
Assignments                          25%
Mid Term Presentation          25%
(Individual or 2/3 member group)
Final: A Research Paper and   20%
And Final Presentation           10%
Student Portfolio                     5%

TOTAL                              100%
 

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