Teaching using Copyright the Card Game

David Moger is Associate Lecturer in Information Management at the University of West of England. We met a few weeks ago in Cardiff when he attended a workshop I was running for CILIP Wales. It was a chance to play Copyright the Card Game and I spent the last part of the session giving some advice about how to use it in your own teaching. I asked if anyone had used the game, and David raised his hand. He also said he was planning to run a session the following week and agreed to write this up to share his experiences. David tells us….

I first came across Copyright the Card Game when looking for information on Open Educational Resources for a lecture I was due to give to Information Management students at the University of the West of England, Bristol. I am an Associate Lecturer at UWE and my main work is on the Information Contexts module, which covers a range of subjects and is designed as a general introduction to Information Management. I inherited teaching copyright and was looking for ways to make the subject more interesting.

I had attended the CILIP copyright briefing in 2015 so had some ideas on changes to content. I was also doing a module of a teaching qualification at the time, which meant I had to plan and run a teaching session for a colleague and be observed. I was asked to do a session on OERs and that’s when I found the game, just at the right time. I experimented with the game for a while, incorporating it into my existing copyright session but not really giving it enough time, and on reflection I was trying to cram too much in to the two hour session.

I saw that CILIP Wales were hosting Jane to talk about the game in Cardiff in October 2017 so signed myself up. With Jane running us through playing the game in about 2½ hours I decided the best way to incorporate the game was just to run it for the students, and a week later that is what I did.

David’s card, not using the correct colour palette!

I made three sets of cards using a very dodgy photocopier that printed the cards in several different shades of the colours they were supposed to be. Also the two sides did not quite match up so cutting the cards up was interesting! I added a few introductory slides to the game presentation, incorporating some ideas from presentations I saw at the CILIP Copyright conference in 2017, and off we went.

I started by getting the students to write on a post-it note one thing they already knew about copyright. Some of the replies were –

“Copyright belongs to the creator unless sold/inherited”

“Copyright theft is a crime”

“You get copyright without asking for it”

“You can only digitize one chapter or 10% or the CLA will eat you”


And several mentioned length of copyright.

The introductory slides were all on the theme that Copyright is hard and there are (probably) no easy answers, plus none of this session is legal advice so don’t sue me! I then ran the game much as Jane had in Cardiff. The students seemed to pick up the idea quite quickly so we managed to get through about half of the scenarios in each of rounds two, three and four in the two hour session. They were inclined to over think the situations presented to them, and read too much into them, with the result that they often had too many cards for the situation. (by the way, if you have not played the game some of this may not make a lot of sense!)

David’s students discussing copyright

For the first round the students were given a set of objects including an Xbox game of Guitar Hero, a CD of Let it Be by the Beatles and a copy of Ethel Bilborough’s Diary, and they had to decide which form of Works each was and which copyright applied. These were not as straightforward as they seemed. The Beatles CD allowed me to talk about Paul McCartney’s attempts to buy back the copyright of the songs he wrote for the Beatles, and Ethel Bilborough’s diary could be the subject of a session on its own. (If you are not aware of the problems involved in tracing the copyright of the diary see Naomi Korn’s blog post from 28th June 2017).

Three of the students worked in the UWE library and had some experience of digitisation projects and were very good at coming up with questions I had trouble answering! Also they made a good case for some additional cards in some instances. For example, question one in round four is about digitising a chapter of a book for uploading to a VLE. The UWE practice is that the book has to be issued to a digitisation library ticket, so they could argue that a valid usage was Rental or Lending. But was this “trumped” by not applying to a public performance?

Overall the two hours went well with the students engaged throughout. There were a number of learning points for me.

  1. I need to know more about copyright to run it better in the future, to allow me to answer queries and to offer explanations of why certain cards do not apply.
  2. Work out a good scoring system. I felt I was too much swayed by arguments from the students about why cards should be included (and see no. 1.)
  3. I need better sets of cards.
David’s students playing Copyright the Card Game

As a first run through the game I thought it went pretty well. One thing I intended to do but forgot, was to ask the students for one thing they learned during the session, to mirror the question I asked at the start. This would have rounded off the session well, I think.

The game has certainly made the teaching of copyright more interesting for me, and also learning more interesting for the students. There were no glazed expressions and no nodding heads as people struggled to stay awake as there was when I first taught a copyright session several years ago. Several scenarios in the game are based on academic libraries, so I’m trying to think up a few public library inspired situations, and also other situations to reflect the wider expectations of students on an Information Management course.


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