Keywords: information technology, intellectual property, open distance learning, ODL, University of South Africa, Unisa, e–learning, electronic learning, online learning, open learning, educational use, statutory exceptions
Technology and open distance learning (ODL): intellectual property issues at a glance
The branch of law known as 'intellectual property' includes copyright law, patent law, trademarks, designs and related areas. The rights associated with intellectual property are of paramount importance to those who are involved in the development, exploitation and use of computer hardware and software. These rights also extend to protect those involved in producing and developing information technology in general. Legal remedies are available against those who unfairly seek to take advantage of the efforts and investments of others. However the law strikes a balance between the competing interests and rights given by intellectual property law and those who may infringe on intellectual property rights on acceptable grounds, for example, institutions of higher learning that do not seek to profit from such activities. Thus, the rights given by intellectual property law are not absolute. However, current 'educational use statutory exceptions' do not cater adequately for distance education.