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Copyright Reminder

Copyright and intellectual property issues are a part of the fabric of research and scholarly communications, and thus all Stanford faculty, students and staff need a working understanding of copyright law as it impacts their daily lives.  The Copyright Reminder, which highlights common campus copyright concerns and outlines fundamental elements of US copyright law, is distributed annually to ensure that the Stanford community remains aware of those issues. 

Public online learning

MOOCs and other online learning systems raise a variety of copyright and intellectual property concerns.   Per University policy, and as noted in the Research Policy Handbook, “courses taught and courseware developed by faculty while employed by the University belong to Stanford,” thus faculty offering a public course require approval of their department chair and cognizant dean.  In addition, content in these courses is subject to different copyright exemptions than face-to-face classes or even Stanford-specific online classes. 

To ensure that these issues are addressed, the Vice Provost for Teaching & Learning (VPTL) coordinates Stanford’s public online course offerings.  Faculty or staff interested in offering a public online course should register their interest at well in advance of a potential launch date.  

VPTL maintains Public Online Course Guidelines, which outline Stanford University policy related to the fundamental issues that arise when offering public online courses or any course in which there are participants beyond the Stanford community.  View those guidelines here:

The VPOL also provides a full set of resources and documentation addressing key pedagogical, practical, and legal aspects of creating material for the online learning space.  That documentation is found here:

For questions regarding these guidelines, please contact Brent Izutsu at

MOOCs and other public online learning systems can also be challenging in regard to reading lists and the inclusion of third-party publications.  A service called  SIPX was designed specifically to support distribution of digital content in an academic setting, legally and cost-effectively.  The SIPX service brings together information about readings of all sorts from a wide variety of publishers, open access and public domain material, subscribed holdings within the Stanford University library system and material managed by outside copyright agents.  Faculty and staff can search the SIPX service to get cost and permissions information for any or all items on a class syllabus, and then make SIPX “links” available to students to access the material.  For more information about SIPX, please visit their website at