Copyright (in) Education

Bartolomeo Meletti is the Copyright Services Delivery Manager at Learning on Screen. He also works as Creative Director of for CREATe, the RCUK Centre for Copyright and New Business Models in the Creative Economy (University of Glasgow). He is also the Director of Worth Knowing Productions, a digital creative team specialised in making complex knowledge accessible through research-based visual tools.

Previously, Bartolomeo worked at the British Film Institute and the Digital Catapult on secondment from CREATe, and held research and media production positions at CIPPM, the Centre for Intellectual Property Policy & Management (Bournemouth University), where he is currently a Visiting Fellow; and at CEMP, the Centre for Excellence in Media Practice (Bournemouth University). We are delighted he’s written this guest post for us about the new course that Learning on Screen will be running this autumn. Bart tell us… 

Copyright is hard[1]. It can be fun, controversial, intriguing, scary, engaging, frustrating, positive, restrictive, enabling, rewarding. But it’s definitely hard. Understanding copyright is important though. It’s important for any creator wishing to use other people’s work in creative productions and to make a living out of their own work. It’s important for educators who create teaching material and use existing works in the class to illustrate a point to their students. It’s important for cultural heritage practitioners engaged in digitisation projects, and for users who consume creative content and wish to reuse that content in mash-ups and other derivative works. In other words, understanding copyright is important almost for everyone. But it’s hard.


Copyright law is hard for a number of reasons. First and foremost, because it tries to strike a delicate balance between two potentially conflicting interests: incentivising the production of new works and encouraging the dissemination of those works. The relationship between copyright and technology is another factor: since the invention of the printing press, the development of new technologies has made (and still makes, of course) copying more and more accurate, requiring copyright law to adapt to this evolution. One of the main challenges for copyright law is to adjust to these rapid changes without losing its original function: to encourage learning and the spread of knowledge while preserving economic and moral rights of authors and creators.


Understanding copyright and how to lawfully reuse existing works is particularly important for those working in the education sector. Consider the following scenario:


As part of her lecture, a Media Studies teacher wants to show a couple of clips from the series Black Mirror to prompt a discussion with her students around the role of social media in our lives. One clip is from the first season, which was broadcast on Channel 4; the other one is from season 3, which was released on Netflix. The lecture is being video recorded and the video is going to be used in a MOOC on Critical Perspectives on Social Media. After watching the clips, the students are intrigued and ask the teacher to organise a screening of the two episodes in their entirety. The teacher organises the screening as an after-school activity within the educational establishment, where only her students can take part. The screening is followed by a Q&A about law and technology. After watching the two episodes, one student is particularly fascinated by the series and decides to create a mash-up video of those two episodes as part of her assignment.


Appreciating the various copyright aspects and implications of this kind of scenario requires understanding of different parts of the copyright system, from licensing schemes to copyright exceptions. For example, in terms of showing clips in the class, what’s the difference between TV shows broadcast on Channel 4 and those released on Netflix? Broadcasts from Channel 4 (as well as the BBC, itv, and Channel 5, among others) are covered by the ERA licence and can be shown in their entirety using Learning on Screen’s bob service. But what about Netflix? Can Netflix shows be used in the class, even though Netflix terms and conditions only allow personal use?


At Learning on Screen, we have just launched a new course on Copyright and Creative Reuse in Education. It is a one-day course that will explore the main copyright issues related to lawfully accessing, using and producing audiovisual works in educational settings, including those related to the scenario above. Primarily aimed at teachers, students, academics, researchers, librarians, and other people dealing with audiovisual works in education, this course will help you understand the conditions under which audiovisual works can be used lawfully for educational purposes; and how mash-ups and other derivative works can be created and exploited within and beyond educational settings.


Sounds hard? Boring? I promise it won’t be. We will use innovative multimedia resources from the platform to explore these challenging topics in an interactive and engaging way. You will also find out how Sherlock Holmes can help you understand copyright and teach it to your students … and the good thing is that these resources will remain freely available for you to consult at any time, should you wish to refresh your memory on what we are going to discuss or deepen your knowledge of certain specific topics.

Join our first course on 20th September – by the end of the day, copyright won’t seem so hard anymore.

[1] Deazley, R. (7th April 2017), Navigating the Copyright Cortex: Enabling Digital Cultural Heritage, CILIP Copyright Conference 2017.


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