Copyright Reminder

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 and Learning (VPTL) coordinates Stanford’s public online course offerings.  Faculty or staff interested in offering a public online course should register their interest ( 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.

For questions regarding these guidelines, please contact Marc Sanders at

VPTL also provides many resources and services addressing key pedagogical, practical, and legal aspects of creating material for the online learning space. For more information, schedule a consultation ( with VPTL.