How does copyright make you feel?

Photo by James Bennett used with permission

This was the question we have been asking of delegates at some recent events and our answer is ‘kind of a bit exhausted if I am honest!’ We’ve just finished a run of conferences these last two weeks, presenting at the CILIP Copyright Conference on 7th April in London and then running a workshop and presenting a long paper at LILAC in Swansea on 10th April.

At both events we were presenting the findings from our phenomenographic research into librarians’ experiences of copyright. The slides from the CILIP Copyright Conference are here. We carried out the research last year using group interviews and have devised four categories of description, to help us understanding the varying experiences that librarians have of copyright. One of the overriding experiences is that they find copyright to be a problem, for a whole host of reasons, and will often try to avoid dealing with it. This category describes the experience of a large number of librarians, and even those who manage to start to get their head around copyright, still can find it frustrating, contradictory and something of an imposition on them. What we hope we can do is devise some appropriate strategies for teaching librarians about copyright in a way that is less about following rules and more about understanding the risks so their practice and experience can be more empowered. That is the key ambition behind our idea to develop a new copyright education course, working with CILIP and the Information Literacy Group.

Copyright literacy t-shirt design

Copyright N Literacy: Appetite for Risk

The conferences were also a chance to show off the Copyright Literacy 2017 t-shirt. For those of you who have seen us before, we’ve created a tour t-shirt for the past 2 years, partly as a gimmick, but this year’s t-shirt had a twist, as the design is based on a parody of the album cover, Appetite for Destruction by Guns N Roses. We entitled it, ‘Appetite for Risk’ and the design was developed with Kent-based artist Ross J.K. Art and used customised images of the UK Copyright Literacy logo. For those who don’t know there is an exception in UK law under Section 30A of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act for parody, caricature and pastiche.

The conferences were also an opportunity to collect some additional data, using the less well known data collection method of ‘paper aeroplanes’. Delegates were asked to write how copyright made them feel on a piece of paper and then to make their best paper aeroplane and literally throw it at us. Of course, health and safety precautions were closely followed, meaning we wore safety goggles during this time. There was a lot of excitement in the room at both events and we’ve collected a huge amount of additional data we can’t wait to start analysing. Here’s a tweet from one of the participants at the session at LILAC:


The workshop we ran at LILAC was called ‘Creative Approaches to Copyright Education‘ and people were given a scenario and had to devise some training using a lesson plan and a set of cards that helped them choose an appropriate teaching method and learning theory to underpin their approach. Our biggest issue in this session was we had under-estimated how many people might want to attend the workshop, so our groups had around 10 people in them. However we have some fantastic examples of creative approaches to teaching aspects of copyright to different audiences.

The final contribution we made at the conference was on Tuesday afternoon when we updated delegates at the Lagadothon (LILAC’s games competition) on our game, The Publishing Trap, which is ready for play testing. After the session a small group came along to play one or two rounds. This game is really exciting and we hope to be able to invite people to come along and play it over the summer.

We’re going into a super busy period for both of us (Chris has his exam to finish his PGDip in Copyright law and I am starting my new job at City), so may not be able to share all the findings and outputs for a couple of months, but certainly intend to update everyone. We were also delighted to find out over Easter that the paper we submitted to Library Management, writing up the phenomenographic research has been accepted for publication, subject to some minor amendments. What great news!

Dragon Slaying Part II – More Criticism and Review in Higher Education

Thesis DefendedThis week’s guest post comes again from Mark Summers, who was copyright officer at a UK university for a number of years, before leaving to undertake a PhD (in music). He has a PGDip in copyright law from Kings College London (KCL). This post is part two in a series: the first was theoretical, outlining Mark’s view of fair dealing for the purposes of criticism and review; the second is more practical, looking at the question of post-exam etheses.

Part two: putting post-examination etheses into the repository

I have been on both sides of academic copyright use. As I said in part 1, my time as copyright officer was spent giving advice and training, all the time trying to help members of the university to think about copyright in a helpful way – helpful to both themselves and the university – rather than talking abstract law at them and hoping something would stick. Currently I am a PhD student, so how do I use my knowledge and experience to guard against copyright infringement in my thesis, and how could this help others in their academic work?

Post-exam etheses

I am writing my PhD thesis. When (if?!) it is accepted, I am required to deposit it as an ethesis in the online, open access repository. We’re all familiar with the old examination permission – anything done for the purposes of answering an examination is OK – with the grave warning that this cloak of invincibility disappears when the thesis is subsequently dealt with, exposing us to all of the copyright dragons. The revised version has brought examinations under the fair dealing banner, so we are already a wee bit more restricted (though the risk of copyright holders’ wrath is minimal given that examinations take place within the walls of our academic castles).

So the question is, if academic writing fulfills the criteria for criticism and review in law (see Part 1), why do we worry about the change from examined to deposited thesis?

I believe this worry comes from the exposure of an online repository and the move from (historic) certainty to relative uncertainty, from everything being covered no matter what to the possibility of cover for a (potentially) smaller number of copyright uses.


Can we have a more concrete example?

In my thesis then, I may want to quote from a book or article. Whatever I quote is substantial, so I need permission of some kind. Do I need direct permission? I don’t think so as the law gives specific cover for quotation.

Likewise, I may want to include some illustrative examples. I might include a picture that shows an example of what I am discussing. I won’t criticise the picture directly, maybe only giving a namecheck to the thing that is depicted. Is this ok? I would say yes, assuming that I have properly cited the source.

What about a musical score? Sure, it should be fine to include excerpts of the score in the text to illustrate a point in a convenient manner for the reader. However, what I wouldn’t do is, say, include an entire score as an appendix – if the reader wants all of it then they should find a copy for themselves.

So are there no problems with any thesis?

By chance I came across an example of a potential problem as the thesis moves from examination to dissemination. There is a growing number of ‘practice-as-research’ PhDs. Potentially these could contain work that may reuse existing material in a way that would make me hesitate about whether a straight transfer to a repository is OK.

The example in question is of “Sound maps for the dreamer” The idea is to match sounds with existing maps. They say, “Maps from the 1970s seem to be very good aesthetically… If you like it and we like it then it has the potential to be part of the project”.

I say, “hold on a moment!” My immediate feeling is that there is no obvious fair dealing approved purpose here – the use of a map from the 1970s is problematic, given the recent creation date. Also, the electronic image may have its own copyright.

If a thesis included maps used in this way, then I would proceed with caution. As it is much less clear that the inclusion of the potentially (probably?) infringing artwork as part of the criticism of it in the thesis would be covered by law, I would probably end up advising the author to ask for permission from the copyright owners.

In a nutshell

In my opinion, if we are writing in a suitably academic way (smallest quotation necessary, properly cited) then we are covered by the permissions given to us in law.

Following this, post-exam ethesis advice to PhD students could be less restrictive.

N.B. as in part 1, this is an opinion piece, not legal advice. You may wish to consult your institutional policy before changing your approach.

It’s Open Education Week!

Last year Copyright the Card Game was a featured resource during Open Education Week, and we are delighted to be support the event which runs from the 27th to 31st March this year. We continue to support open education, adding Creative Commons licences to our resources, presentations and research wherever possible. Why not find out more about Open Education Week and if you are attending the OER17 conference next week in London, then we’ll be presenting on our research into lecture recording, copyright and open practice.

UK Copyright Literacy goes Stateside

I’ve been lucky enough to spend a week in the US, attending and presenting at the ACRL conference which is the Association of College and Research Libraries, and a part of the American Library Association. I was primarily here to present on information literacy, but decided to submit a lightning talk proposal on our research into librarians’ experiences of copyright. It’s 20 slides in 5 minutes so a real whizz through all the work we’ve been doing. But great to share the copyright literacy work with a new audience. And this is also exciting because a librarian in the US, Paul Bond, has been working on adapting Copyright the Card Game for US Law and I am hoping to meet him later today. Anyway my slides are available and in honour of the trip, the UK Copyright Literacy logo has got a new look for the week!

The UK Copyright Officers survey

Interested in knowing more about copyright support in other institutions?

Philippa Hatch, Chris Morrison and Jane Secker are carrying out research into copyright officers or similar specialists in UK libraries and educational / cultural institutions. We want to find out more about the value and status of these positions, the responsibilities that they entail and the ways in which copyright education is delivered. The survey follows on from the UK Copyright Literacy Survey carried out in 2014 (reported in Morrison & Secker, 2015). It also will provide some comparative data to a recent survey of copyright specialists undertaken in Canada by Patterson, (2017). The findings should be of interest to organisations wishing to benchmark the copyright training and advice services they currently offer.

Who should complete the survey?

We would be grateful if organisations could nominate one representative to complete the survey. Even if you don’t have a copyright officer, the survey asks questions to determine how copyright is managed in the absence of a designated post (the previous survey found 64% of respondents had a designated individual with responsibility for copyright matters). We ask you to provide the name of your organisation and contact details at the end of the survey to help ensure we don’t get multiple responses from the same institutions. This data will not be shared.

The survey is available here and will be open until Monday 3rd April.

The data and findings

The findings will be anonymised and a summary will be published on the Copyright Literacy website, with a view to further dissemination in academic literature and conference presentations. The data will be archived at the UK Data Archive in order to make it available to other researchers in line with current data sharing practices.

If you have any questions about this survey please contact:

New CREATe working paper and copyright education symposium resources

‘Copyright Education’ – Original illustration by Davide Bonazzi for

‘Copyright Education’ – Original illustration by Davide Bonazzi for

We were delighted to be approached by CREATe a few months ago about publishing our report ‘Lecture recording in higher education: risky business or evolving open practice’ as one of their working papers. I’m very pleased to say that this is now available on the CREATe website. I’m also looking forward to speaking about the research at the OER17 conference in a few weeks time.

In addition to this CREATe have created a page of resources from last year’s Copyright Education Symposium (including Chris’s report of the day) which is now online. Chris spoke on a panel at the event, and I acted as a rapporteur for one of the discussion groups. They have a short survey out for those who attended or might be interested in this topic, to help them plan the next Copyright Education Symposium. It’s great that this could become a regular event.

Finally we’ve just started some further research into the provision of dedicated copyright support in educational and cultural institutions, so hope to add to the evidence base later in the year. We’re working with Philippa Hatch from Imperial College and hope to be launching our survey in the next few days – watch this space!

Avoiding the copyright binaries

by Presentsofmind CC-BY-NC-SA 2.0

Dinosaur vs Robot T-shirt by Presentsofmind CC-BY-NC-SA 2.0

A couple of weeks ago Jane posted a summary of her UKSG editorial urging the information community to move away from seeing copyright as something to be feared. This led me to think about a major aspect of copyright in today’s world – the seemingly intractable conflict between ‘creators’ and ‘users’ of copyright works.

My follow up post explores these issues through a consideration of my own journey from rights holder representative to copyright educator. I suggest that rather than seeing the tensions in copyright law as intractable problems, we should embrace them as a natural part of creative life.

For educators and information professional this means “getting comfortable with ambiguity”. Although it’s natural to want certainty, particularly with something that could be risk and complicated, in many cases this isn’t possible. And reducing that complexity to binary choices is not only unhelpful for individuals, it can create problems for the wider ideological and philosophical debates around copyright.

A few days after my editorial post was published I saw this post from New Zealand based book reviewer Elizabeth Heritage which covers many of the same points. I wanted to share it here because it’s excellently written and thought provoking. My favourite line is:

“it’s okay to have whatever opinion you like about copyright, but it’s not okay to be a d*ck about it.”

Although Jane and I spend quite a lot of time thinking about and promoting open practice and use of copyright exceptions, we are also creators and understand the need for people who make a living out of copyright to protect their creations. As I say in my editorial copyright is:

“experienced in a multiplicity of contradictory and messy ways when it hits real world scenarios. In order to try to make sense of this frustrating complexity it’s easy to take refuge in the reassuring clarity of communities that think and talk the same way you do.”

We believe it’s really important to think inclusively as well as critically about the challenges that copyright presents. Our hope is that copyright literacy can help us address these in a collaborative and constructive way without pretending that the tensions don’t exist. Indeed as I wrote “these tensions are ultimately what copyright consists of”.

Image manipulation and avoiding copyright infringement: a useful resource

Follio image

Infographic created by and reproduced with permission

We’ve recently found a useful Infographic from Follio who run a website, primarily selling art works. However they have produced a handy (and attractive) infographic on image manipulation and how to avoid copyright infringement. It focuses on US law but does also include some details about UK law. It also considers the tricky issues of what ‘originality’ and ‘substantial use’ are whilst providing some handy visual cues as to what these look like in practice.

In order for a work to be protected by copyright it must be ‘original’, however this doesn’t mean that it has be entirely novel. This means two images that look quite similar can be two independent original copyright works. Similarly copyright infringement only occurs when someone uses a ‘substantial’ part of someone else’s work without permission. However we all know that we are inspired by the work of others – that’s how art and culture works.

So the question of what is original is really key and when we use works of art, knowing what is substantial is very different to when we might quote an extract from a book or journal article. You can see the infographic in it’s full glory on the Follio website. We would also recommend checking out the advice for visual artists which answers questions directly from the creative community in a clear and engaging way.

Copyright and creativity: how to teach students to make sound judgments

Lisa MooreThis week’s guest blog post is by Lisa Moore who is the Programme Manager (Digitisation and Copyright Compliance) at the University for the Creative Arts (UCA). She writes about her experiences of teaching creative students about copyright issues.

I work in an arts institution and am so very lucky to be surrounded by creative and inspiring people everyday.  We are in the business of encouraging creativity, pushing the boundaries, supporting true innovation, and challenging our perceptions of the world around us.  With this in mind my role of ensuring copyright compliance at UCA may seem formidable.  However I have discovered that embracing copyright rather than shying away from it has been incredibly liberating and more than any new hairdo, a great confidence booster.   This is something I continuously try to impart to our students.

Start Positive

When amendments to the Copyright, Design and Patents Act, 1988, came into affect in 2014 there was lots to be positive about.  Librarian colleagues had fought hard to make sure the changes became a reality so I was determined I would encourage future artists, writers, designers, makers to fully utilise (and dare I say push) what had been achieved.  One of the most positive changes was the introduction of a new exception for Parody, Caricature and Pastiche, under section 30A of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act, 1988.  So this is where I begin my workshops with a clear positive statement on how you could potentially use other people’s in-copyright work legitimately. The wonderful thing with the Parody, Caricature and Pastiche exception is it begs to be illustrated with visuals, which our students love and the more topical, funny and even controversial the better!  I show video examples by Cassette Boy and an old favourite is a LEGO parody of the Fifty Shades of Grey movie trailer created by stop-motion animators Antonio and Andrea Toscano.

Pacman jaws

Pacman Jaws by Koen Mostert licensed under CC-BY-ND available at:

Still image examples like this wonderful poster entitled “Pacman Jaws” by Koen Mostert are engaging and available for use under the Creative Commons licences (this one is CC BY-ND 2.0).

Making Judgements

The examples above are useful as they demonstrate where the creators have used limited amounts from an in-copyright work, which leads to a discussion around fair dealing and the requirement to make judgements when wanting to use third party materials.  With a bit of a steer the workshop can then progress to discussing that old chestnut, inspiration vs plagiarism.  Again examples are really helpful here and inviting students to start to make judgements as to whether someone’s copyright is being infringed is something I see as valuable skills to start developing.  One example I talk about is the Fischli & Weiss vs Weiden+Kennedy (Honda ad, 2003) case.  In 2003, advertising agency Weiden+Kennedy created an advertisement to promote Honda cars, it appears to have been inspired by the 1987 film, The Way Things Go, produced by artists Peter Fischli & David Weiss.  You can read further information on this case here,

I show students both the Peter Fischli & David Weiss film and the Honda advertisement and ask them to make a judgement.  Was it inspiration or infringement?

Some History and Some Perspective

My parents and grandparents (and probably everyone’s come to that) insist on telling me “we’ve never had it better”.  I must be turning into my parents as I now remind students of how far UK Copyright law has come and how they’ve never had it better!  I don’t provide a long history lesson but its worth a comparison of how artistic work was protected (or wasn’t) with the Statue of Anne and the Copyright Engraving Act, with how it is protected now under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act, 1988.  Of course they didn’t have the Internet complicating things in the 1700s but that’s a discussion for another time.

For UCA, and myself, a fundamental skill we are trying to cultivate is for students to have an awareness of copyright, embrace it, so that they can make sound judgements.  It takes time and persistence but ultimately it is something that will give students a competitive edge in their creative disciplines once they’ve left University.

On peril, privilege and the copyright literacy UK tour


Dragon by T. Cowett licensed under CC-BY

It’s been a busy couple of week’s for us at UK Copyright Literacy Central. We’ve been writing up our research on librarians’ experiences of copyright for a journal article, editing a book chapter for the Routledge Companion for Media Education, Copyright and Fair Use, and working on a few presentations and proposals for up coming events. Yesterday we delivered a webinar for the European University Institute in Florence for a group of researchers and today we’re off to the University of Manchester to run a session as part of their PGCert module on Open Knowledge in Higher Education. We’ve developed a new workshop for academics to help them see the importance of copyright at various stages in their career, inspired in part by our new game the Publishing Trap.

We were also delighted to both be asked to write and editorial for UKSG’s eNews publication. My editorial on Peril and Privilege and why we all need copyright literacy is available already, and Chris’s is due to be published later today [Update – It’s now available here]. He’ll be responding to my points, writing about the creative tensions that copyright leads to, and how we work to overcome what might be seen as irreconcilable differences between rightsholders and the education community.

But back to peril (and if you’re wondering why I’ve included a picture of a dragon above see last week’s guest post from Mark Summers), I include some points from my editorial below:

‘Copyright is a topic librarians ignore at their peril’ was the headline from the December 2016 issue of CILIP Update as part of a review of two recent books on copyright for librarians by copyright greats in the library world and fellow colleagues on the Libraries and Archives Copyright Alliance (LACA) committee Paul Pedley and Tim Padfield. Don’t get me wrong, these are incredibly important books, but ‘peril’ I found myself wondering, what sort of peril? I think copyright is important, it is after all what I spend half my job working on, but I wish headlines like this were not common in library literature. Of course copyright matters, but the idea that ignoring it will bring about peril is part of the problem with librarians’ love / hate relationship with copyright. We need to stop viewing it as something to be feared or that might get us into trouble.

I guess that was my key point, copyright is not a peril, yes it’s about risk, but risk can be managed and people should be supported and encouraged so they don’t do what many of us do when we don’t like something; avoid it! I went on (for those who know me, I can do that!):

Copyright is a subject that has fascinated me for most of my professional career. It would be fair to say that I fell into copyright work, but it’s become a deep relationship that for me lies at the heart of what librarians and information professionals stand for. I would be lying if I said I spent my time at library school reading up on copyright laws and studying it endlessly. Librarianship appealed to me because of the idea that I could help people get access to knowledge and information. This is still what still excites me about the profession; information and knowledge gives people choices, it empowers them, but it’s not just about information in a vacuum, it’s the ability to know how to use, analyse and make sense of information, but also to question what else is out there, what information hasn’t been found? Knowing how researchers engage with information and use it to underpin their work is really important. And when some information is behind a pay wall or collections are not online, copyright issues can potentially limit how people can use information. This for me is why information literacy is my real passion but, also why copyright issues and specifically copyright literacy, matters as much.

So it’s not really about copyright for me, it’s about access to information really, but anything that gets in the way of that, for me, needs to be tackled head on, as I said:

…. I became curious about why others seemed to avoid copyright. This led me and Chris to first survey and then carry out interviews with librarians to find out more about their professional experiences of copyright. The idea that many colleagues shy away from this topic and are fearful of it was worthy of investigation. We are finding out some pretty interesting things, that go beyond the simple idea that copyright is the law, and getting it wrong might land you in trouble. There seems to be something inherent in copyright that leads many librarians to be ideologically opposed to it. Is this because copyright laws are seen as restrictive, all powerful and largely about protecting the rights of big business, rather than the ordinary library user? We don’t know yet, however, I think the view that copyright restricts what you can do with information is why librarians need copyright literacy. In particular they need to be clear about copyright exceptions, as there are a whole series of them that relate specifically to activities librarians are permitted to do, from copying for preservation purposes and making accessible copies, to operating inter-lending services. We have a lot of privileges, and rather like librarians who champion for freedom of speech or who are anti-censorship, librarians need to be interested in copyright for political reasons.

So now we get to the heart of it, it’s political, it really matters, and I end my editorial by saying:

I recognise that copyright issues can be difficult and librarians sometimes feel personally responsible, however we need shift our focus back onto our underlying mission. It’s not us that matter! It’s about the communities and the people that we support and how they learn and develop. ….Librarians have an important role as copyright educators and champions of freedom, but they do not need to fear copyright, they need to embrace it as part of the wider information literacy initiatives they offer, to support and empower others.

So there you have it! I bet you can’t wait to see how Chris responds!