CCE Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Information Systems (DISS)


College of Engineering and Computing


Gertrude W. Abramson

Committee Member

Kim Round

Committee Member

Steven R. Terrell


Copyright Act of 1976, Copyright infringement, Delphi method, Fair use in online education, Intellectual property, PANE assessment


Higher education has experienced challenges defining and implementing copyright compliance. Confusion among faculty and staff appears to be common regarding copyright and fair use. The original copyright doctrine was drafted over 200 years ago, which predates practically all technological advances that have and will continue to occur. Change is slow and onerous with most legislation; there is not much possibility the small amendments made to the law will be able to keep pace with the continual technological evolution. Further, judges are citing precedents in court rulings of copyright disputes that were made using the best interpretation of the law, even though those earlier adjudicators had nothing concrete upon which to base decisions. The cycle of loose interpretations further exacerbates the copyright and fair use problem involving technology. Moreover, this concern has been magnified due to the digital nature of lesson delivery most learning institutions are adopting today. The rapid, widespread move toward online learning methods creates an entire set of copyright and fair use circumstances that extend beyond the traditional, face-to-face pedagogical issues. Invariably, schools will be left to attempt to decide what will be considered legal and safe, often by trial and error, until clearer, universally accepted guidelines can be created. A group consensus for best practice was achieved over three rounds of surveying with the help of a Delphi panel highly experienced in copyright laws. Opinions converged early during the process, where proper fair use assessment was one of the major themes appearing during the first round. Respondents also agreed future educators will undoubtedly continue to struggle with fully understanding the intricacies of fair use. An overall consensus reached for many questions was sufficient for answering the proposed research questions and drafting a list of recommendations for technological fair use. The outcome should add to the existing knowledge base, given the limited number of studies that have been conducted regarding the complexities of copyright topics in distance and online education. Recommendations for further investigations encourages researchers to continue where this effort ends to remain current and compliant with the ubiquitous changes in technologies.