UC Berkeley administration responds to copyright violations, Zoom ‘bombing’ incidents

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The move to online classes and general reliance on the Zoom teleconference platform for many classes has brought issues to campus regarding copyright and class climate, according to a campuswide email sent Monday.

Instructors own copyright in their course materials, according to Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Paul Alivisatos and Academic Senate chair Oliver O’Reilly in the email, making the distribution or display by any other person a violation of copyright law. According to the email, screenshots of individual lectures and course materials have been circulating and are being taken out of context.

Alivisatos and O’Reilly also said “Zoom bombing incidents” have begun to take place at UC Berkeley, during which people join Zoom lectures to display racist, pornographic or violent messages as a disruption.

“We are disheartened to have heard reports from across the country, about individuals joining Zoom meetings to troll or ‘bomb’ lectures,” Alivisatos and O’Reilly said in the email. “These kinds of offensive expressions are particularly harmful during a time when so many are under great stress, and are disruptive to the virtual classrooms we now depend on for learning.”

Alivisatos and O’Reilly requested that everyone updates Zoom to the latest version, as well as that instructors and GSIs report incidents to campus administration.

They added that they recognize “intellectual robust debate” in classes is important, but that the manner must be respectful.

“We wish to reiterate how inspirational and heartening it has been to witness the extraordinary efforts over the past six weeks from instructors, GSIs, staff, and students to help maintain and preserve the health and safety of our community while preserving the instructional missions of our campus,” Alivisatos and O’Reilly said in the email. “We thank you for your dedication ad hard work and hope that you and your loved ones are safe and well.”

Check here for live updates on the COVID-19 situation in Berkeley.


Kate Finman is the university news editor. Contact her at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @KateFinman_DC.