The second edition of the 2010 book Copyright and E-learning: a guide for practitioners is now available. The book covers the topic that has fascinated me for over a decade and been central to the job I do at LSE: copyright law and its relationship to e-learning or online learning.
Much of the intentions behind the first edition remain however. The book is designed to be read by practitioners and so it tries to offer pragmatic advice on a range of topics issues from digitising orphan works, to lecture recordings, the use of social media and MOOCs. We tried to write the book in a jargon-free easily digestible way, to hopefully make it a practical guide for learning technologists, but also teachers, lecturers and other learning support staff in higher education, schools, further education and even in a workplace learning setting, where online learning is used extensively.
We’ve taken six key ideas from the book’s conclusion, which we feel are really important to helping you approach any copyright issue:
1. Everything is about risk
Realize that everything is about risk and there are ways of mitigating the risk. For example, devising helpful and timely education and training programmes, but also having institutional policies such as notice and takedown policies on the VLE or any online platform where content can be shared. You will need to decide how comfortable you (and your institution) are towards risk if you decide to rely on copyright exceptions, or are not sure whether a licence covers what you wish to do.
2. Break down any copyright query into its constituent parts
Break down any copyright query into its constituent parts – what type of copyright works does it concern, how will they be used, are there any licences that might apply and finally could a copyright exception come into play? This inevitably requires developing your own technical knowledge to tackle these queries and we’ve provided numerous examples of further resources and training that might help you in the book.
3. Use empathy
Use empathy – in any given situation understanding what someone is actually trying to do when they approach you with a copyright query is helpful. However empathy is important from both sides so try to get the person to think about what the creators and rights holders of a work had in mind too. Ideally this will help you put your copyright support work in context and frame it as a collaborative enterprise.
4. Understand that there is lots of great 'stuff' available for free
Understand that there is lots of great ‘stuff’ available for free or under liberal licence terms, such as Creative Commons. Many people are happy to share their work with you provided they are credited, particularly when it’s for educational use, but recognize that there are often good reasons why some content costs money or is not available to you.
5. Recognize that good manners go a long way
Recognize that good manners go a long way – asking nicely, giving credit and building creative networks are a fundamental component of education and research. Over time you can build up your network of contacts, and often knowing the right person to ask will give you access to a wider network of resources which can be used at little or no cost.
6. Remember, you are not alone
Remember, you are not alone. It’s easy, particularly if you are faced with a tricky copyright situation to feel you are expected to know all the answers and this clearly isn’t going to be possible and no one is an island. So build up your support network, both within your organization and externally, and get to know a few copyright experts who can help you out when you get stuck!
If you’d like to find out more about the book you can visit our website where we have made the list of further resources available. You can also find out about some of the copyright education initiatives we’d been involved in recently. If you are interested in hearing more about some of the challenges related to copyright and e-learning, you may also wish to listen to the recent podcast we recorded with James Clay. We also plan to make the sixth chapter from the book, on copyright education, available on open access.
What are the main copyright challenges you face? Let us know in the comments.
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