rights clearance support

Senior Consultant at Naomi Korn Associates, Debbie McDonnell, gives her views

I have worked in copyright for nearly 20 years in organisations varying from charities to museums to the British Council where I advise on copyright issues for staff carrying out cultural relations and education work in the UK and other countries. In each case, half the battle was raising awareness of the importance of copyright to the organisation’s objectives. Once senior staff and project managers understood how copyright impacted their work, they were more engaged and committed to improving management of copyright issues.

The best way to embed good copyright management within an organisation is to have a copyright policy, run copyright training for staff and set up copyright procedures to tackle common issues. However, to ensure people understand the policy, turn up to the training and use the procedures, it is essential to highlight how copyright management and mismanagement affects them and their organisation.

Here are my top tips on raising copyright awareness:

  1. Do some ground work – target staff working in content creation marketing, or digital roles and question how they use other people’s content in their work. Often they have already come across copyright concerns such as; whether they needed permission to use a piece of content, what is meant by open licences and myths that you can use other people’s content as long as you credit them and do not make any money.
  2. Through your ground work, build a bank of case studies from across the organisation – both good and bad practice. Bad practice is where the organisation has suffered from poor copyright management – perhaps failure to negotiate copyright ownership or an adequate licence which leads to additional time and resources being needed. Good practice is where managing copyright led to positive outcomes. For example, The British Council commissioned a piece of music as part of a Shakespeare programme. The British Council negotiated copyright ownership but agreed the composer could retain the right to royalties from any public performance. Much later a broadcaster was interested in licensing the music. This was a win-win because the British Council had the full freedom to authorise this use while the composer would benefit from any royalties.
  3. Gather real world examples from outside the organisation to bring copyright alive – everyone loves the Monkey Selfie story which helps convey the basics of copyright ownership, for digital I like to share the story of the outraged blogger who was battling a copyright infringement claim and ends up giving some good tips on using images. For museums and universities there is the story of Uckfield College who had to publish a public apology for putting another organisation’s work on their website without permission and had to pay a substantial fine.
  4. Assess the biggest copyright risks and/or opportunities facing your organisation from your ground work. Articulating risks and opportunities with real examples helps your organisation, and senior management in particular, to understand the impact of managing copyright in a proactive manner.
  5. Write a copyright blog or even star in a vlog to raise awareness of the importance of copyright to your organisation. Consider focusing on a single message and a target audience. It helps to give positive examples and top tips on managing copyright rather than stressing the negative too much. The message and audience should be linked to the biggest copyright risks and opportunities. Use the case studies and real world examples to make sure the message feels relevant and accessible to your staff.

The team at Naomi Korn Associates can help train staff regarding all things copyright and also provide specialist consultancy, helping develop practical procedures to suit client needs,  strategic risk management, policy development work, infringement advice, contract drafting and health checks. Contact patrick@naomikorn.com or 0203 475 5122 for further information.

© Naomi Korn Associates, 2019. Some Rights Reserved. The information here is licensed for use under a Creative Commons Attribution Share Alike Licence (CC BY SA)