Copyright law, librarians, information professionals, and the digital revolution – Ten Tips to make you top

If I’m being perfectly honest, I think there were a lot of us who were wondering if a session on copyright had been a good choice for the slot first thing in the morning on the second day. However, out doubts were proven to be unfounded when Jason Miles-Campbell from JISC Legal gave an incredibly interesting and upbeat presentation about the legalities of copyright and how to work with them.

Jason began with a really simple slide summarising the basics of Intellectual Property Rights (IPR):

Are you the owner? If not get permission, or use statutory exception.

It’s a simple concept but that really is the main premis behind IPR, and it was a great simplistic start to the presentation. He then went on to discuss his top tips surrounding copyright use in education:

  1. Turn negative to positive – need to avoid using negative terminology and emphasise how re-using and adapting other material can mean a shift of focus to different pedagogy and approach to teaching rather than preparing materials. Set a good example by using material you are able to use with confidence and certainty.
  2. Get it on the agenda – formulate a mission for the institution to use other people’s material to save money and resources, whilst raising awareness of copyright and what it means.
  3. Tackle ownership issues – think about IPR of staff work (if it is produced for employment purposes then institution own rights) and IPR of student work
  4. Declare an expert – have an institutional champion who is visible and can make decisions
  5. Publicise your licenses – ensure lecturers know about licenses and what they enable them to do. There is support material on the JISC legal website and the license websites themselves.
  6. Use what’s available – raise awareness of material that can be used; copyright owned material, license owned material and appropriate creative commons licensed material. Build up a bank of support material (e.g. institutional repository)
  7. Integrate copyright – lead by example and show best practice; integrate into courses to raise student awareness.
  8. Circulate case studies – examples of how to use the material available to you
  9. Ask the question – ask the owner of copyright material if you/your institution would like to use it, and explain the exact purpose you would like to use it for, you may be surprised that people will allow you to use material for little cost (or even nothing at all!) if it is for educational purposes only. It may be worthwhile having a template of how to ask.
  10. Use JISC Legal – wide experience of issues which JISC legal provide information on – they are not lawyers so cannot tell you what to do but they can offer advice. It’s a service you’re paying for so you should utilise it.

It was a really interesting talk and I will certainly be visiting the JISC legal site in future. I hope to work with our Copyright Co-ordinator (at least we’re already doing number 4!) to look at how we can help our lecturers, as I know it is a major issue for our academic staff at the moment; they’re are torn between the conflict of trying to offer online material and interactive resources, yet be aware of copyright when linking to external material.