Sometimes it is useful to go back to the rights associated with print
If one of my students came from a country that "Publisher A" did not
wish to deal with, would I refuse him or her the right to buy the
text book? If so, would it be my responsibility (as module tutor) or
the bookshop's responsibility (as information provider) for enforcing
I think not. Perhaps such material already exists (one thinks of the
recent alarms of Homeland Security vs Enemy Students learning how to
make biological weapons), but that concern is usually about the
knowledge transfer, not the educational materials.
Obviously, a VLE can be constructed so that it records the location,
residency and ethnicity of all students who are registered for a
module and could easily be programmed to disbar certain information
products from users on any of these criteria. (At any moment I might
have to say "EPrints can do that" :-)
However, this would be exceedingly inconvenient to me as a tutor and
would cause me to drop the use of any such products. (What do they
think I am going to do? Find alternative versions for some students?
In which case, everyone can use the alternatives!)
So, I would say to the publishers from a purely pragmatic perspective
(a) yes, the software can do it
(b) no, the educators won't do it
and that is before you get onto the moral case for denying students
access to education on the basis of trading restrictions.
On 5 Jun 2006, at 13:34, John Casey wrote:
> Dear All
> I have a request for some help and advice about the technical
> feasibility of blocking access to online materials via geographic
> Before I go any further I should state that I don think this is a
> good or desirable thing to do in the context of education. But this
> is an issue which concerns publishers - the control of distribution
> by territory. It is also something they have traditionally
> exercised in print and electronic materials and want to continue to
> be able to do, it is a basic right under copyright law to be able
> to exercise this control that has been around a long time.
> What I am particularly interested in is if a UK institution offeres
> courses to international students via a VLE and perhaps a VPN and
> that perhaps one country amongst several that was providing
> students was not a country that a certain publisher wanted to allow
> their materials into. Is there a way that for a certain piece of
> material that access could be blocked from that particular country?
> Similarly is there a way a course in a VLE could be set up so that
> it could be accessed by only certain countries? - this might be a
> way of providing alternate access arrangements to different materials.
> Obviously this scenario is a total pain, and not one I or, I am
> sure, you would like to get into as an educational provider. The
> reason I am asking is that some colleagues are currently involved
> in tough legal negotiations with a group of publishers and these
> issues are being raised by the publishers. What I need to know is
> how easy or hard it would it be able to do this - this will help
> the negotiators a great deal.
> If you can help - sure we can discusss it on the lists that this is
> being sent to and I am sure it might spark discussions about the
> merits of open access and the wrongs of the current copyright
> regime - but please also try to answer the questions as well so we
> can help our colleagues.
> John Casey
> Learning Materials Manager
> TrustDR JISC Project Manager
> UHI Millennium Institute
> Room 145, Perth College, Perth, PH1 2NX,
> e-mail: [log in to unmask]
> Tel: 01738 877213
> Mob: 07796930031