12 February 2017

Spaces, Images and Teaching Copyright

Last summer, I had the pleasure to present to a number of University Copyright Experts about – Copyright, Licensing and Digital Images: Teaching the teachers what they can use when they teach.


At the best of times, the relationship between what content can be used under a licence, and what content can be used under an exception to copyright in teaching and learning contexts, can be complex. Since a major part of my work is training, whether running workshops, seminars or training the trainers, I wanted to put together some slides which focussed on issues that academics and researchers could relate to help them understand this complexity i.e. the concept of “spaces and images”.

The attached presentation looks at both the types of spaces teachers and academics would potentially use during the course of their teaching, and then the devices by which they could use content in those spaces.

In terms of spaces, I categorised them into the following:

Private/private = classroom

Private/public = Virtual Learning Environment (VLE), such as Moodle

Public/Public = Website (non commercial)

Public/Public = Website (commercial)

This then provided the base line for examining the types of devices and the ubiquity that would enable image reuse, viewed through the lens of risk, cost and benefit (i.e. copyright as a “business critical issue”).


CLA = The Copyright Licensing Agency Licence (CLA) licensed published content can be used with no risk, with great benefit (but with cost), in Private/Private spaces and also Private/Public spaces in compliance with licence terms.

CC = Creative Commons Licensed images and other content has great benefit across all the spaces with no cost. However there is some risk. The recognised risk is based on both the differentiation between licence “flavours” meaning that only some of the licences would enable images and other content to be used across both Public/Public spaces as some are limited to non-commercial uses. Also, there is risk that the person/organisation posting content under a CC licence does not have the authority to do so.

Exceptions  = Exceptions to copyright which enables the reuse of images and other content (particularly not content covered under the terms of a CLA or other licence), have no cost, but some risk (as the exceptions to copyright are defences and NOT rights). Their benefit is limited because of Fair Dealing limitations and spaces for use are limited to Private/Private and Private/Public spaces. The increased risk associated with the use of the exceptions within even the Public/Public Non Commercial space – means that this does not feature as an option because the level of risk in many cases may not be tolerable.

Apart from looking at key messages regarding teaching, I also discussed what happens when content moves between spaces, how and what this does to the level of risk and what can be done to mitigate if not eliminate this risk.

For example, students recording lectures taking place in a Private/Private Space and posting content on Public/Public spaces via social media. In this case, CLA licensed material which may have legitimately been used within teaching in classrooms and VLE’s under specific licence terms, may find itself circulating on the web, which would breach CLA licence terms.

Clearly solutions might include:

  1. Organisational policies about what is acceptable and what is not, supported by staff and student training
  2. Use where possible of CC licensed content in classroom teaching with the expectation that lectures will be recorded and posted on social media.

Another “space shifting” circumstance to be weary of can include the use of content stored on a VLE, and its subsequent reproduction on MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses).

Solutions here might include:

  1. Clearing all rights in some third party content directly with rights holders for global rights, even for classroom use, with the view that the content may then be used on the web within the context of FutureLearn courses
  2. Use where possible of CC licensed content (without an “NC” restriction) in classroom teaching with the expectation that lectures will be recorded and posted on social media.

This is certainly a good start, I believe in helping teachers who teach copyright, to understand and verbalise the concepts of the spaces which we use to teach, and the use of the content that we use in these spaces. By doing this, we can gradually communicate the complexities of the issues and also consider the use of licensed material and the use of the copyright exceptions within the prism of risks, costs and benefits. Moreover, I believe that by understanding these critical concepts, it helps us to understand how content can move between spaces (whether legitimately or not) and therefore we can put in measures to make the most of legitimately licensed content, sensibly risk appraise the use of the exceptions to copyright, as well as mitigate and potentially eliminate risks of content being used in unauthorised spaces.

© Naomi Korn, 2016. Some Rights Reserved. The information here is licensed for use under a Creative Commons Attribution Share Alike Licence (CC BY SA)


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