What I Want: Next Steps Post-Censorship
As described in these documents, I
was censored by UNC from using some source code to play DVDs
on Wednesday, April 12, 2000.
I am scheduled to teach the same course during
fall semester, 2000. Here is what I would like to see happen in
order for me to teach my next section of the class:
- For UNC's Legal Counsel office to tell me that I can use any
software I would like, and talk about any topic I would like, for my
class. The only exceptions would be software (or software uses) that
has been found illegal in a court with NC jurisdiction, or topics
that have been found illegal in a court with NC jurisdiction.
- For my academic unit, SILS,
to tell me that I can use any software I would like, and talk about
any topic I would like, for my class with the exceptions mentioned above.
- For UNC to develop a specific policy addressing the impact
of the DMCA on faculty, students and staff. This must include
clear interpretation of "fair use," academic freedom and
copyright. UNC then needs to stand by faculty who adhere to this
My suggestions are that this policy:
- Specifically supports faculty members in academic use of any
materials or topic, electronic or otherwise, that that faculty member
believes will benefit his or her class.
- Specifically rejects any external tampering with faculty
choices of class materials or topics, including from within UNC (e.g.,
the UNC Legal Counsel), from the state (e.g., the NC State Assembly)
or special interest groups (e.g., groups who seek to ban or limit
access to particular topics).
- Allow only a clear legal ruling with jurisdiction over UNC
Chapel Hill to modify UNC's position on the above points. Even in a
case where a legal ruling has been made, allow a process of discussion
and debate before tampering with faculty choices of class materials or
- Identify clear processes by which a question about the
legality or other issues concerning faculty choices of class materials
or topics may be processed. Minimally, this must include a public
hearing where the faculty member and interested parties may present
their points of view.
There are any number of relevant court findings and statements from
organizations to support a strong stance on fair use of copyrighted
materials in academic settings. Some contemporary examples include:
First version: April 23, 2000
Copyright (c) 2000 Gregory B. Newby. Permission is granted to copy,
distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.1
or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation.