Friday 22 August 2014

Copyseek Conference for HE Copyright Practitioners 21st August 2014, University of Leeds

You wouldn't have thought a gathering of copyright practitioners from education for a conference on copyright would be either very exciting or very energetic, but the 2014 Copyseek event was both! LIS-Copyseek is a JISCMail list for copyright practitioners (including librarians who have a responsibility for copyright) in the education sector, and is an extremely useful network for sharing best practice and asking those tricky questions that often come our way.

The event kicked off with an entertaining ice-breaker for all 60 or so delegates, getting everyone to say who they were, where they were from, what they did and what they wanted for Christmas. Answers ranged from better copyright exceptions and more time to circular saws and Benedict Cumberbatch! The first session, entitled 'How do you solve a problem like managing copyright compliance in HE?', was led by Monique Ritchie, Copyright Officer and Research Librarian at Brunel University. Monique outlined three problems: digitised course materials, data collection for and reporting to the Copyright Licensing Agency (CLA), and overseas students, explaining that it is hard to reach academics who often operate in silos and need flexibility because of increasingly demanding workloads and timetables. Brunel has adopted a university-wide reading list system, Talis Aspire, for which the library got top-level agreement from the University Senate, thus ensuring that all academics submit reading lists to Talis Aspire. This has taken a lot of work and effort by the library, which set up a user group of champions to agree wording for a policy to manage student expectations and resource reading lists. Liaison librarians attend board meetings and are fully embedded in departments, which means that Monique can easily cascade training and support materials to the academics. Providing scanned material for reading lists is managed by the centralised Digital Readings Service in the library; this works well with the reading list policy and the library's cut-off dates for receiving reading lists are June and November. Budgets are spent on a first come, first serve basis, and any 'stragglers' who miss the deadlines can be picked up by the team. Finally, as Brunel's library service has a university-wide presence, it can outreach more easily to areas which have international leanings and offer help and support. Some overseas institutions are better resourced than the UK ones, so it is often worth seeing if a reciprocal arrangement can be worked out with those overseas partners. The CLA are also piloting an add-on to the licence for students based at overseas campuses, which may be helpful to those institutions who are currently not sure about how to deal with this issue.    

Next up was Lisa Redlinski from the University of Brighton. Lisa's energy and enthusiasm never fails to amaze me, and her Prezi was as dynamic as she was! Her talk was on 'How to survive a CLA Audit', and she enthralled us with her superhero powers of combat as we watched, astonished, as she wriggled out of her sharp suit and into her combat trousers (or as she put it, her 'big girl pants') - as she's American, it means something different; the rest of us were wondering what on earth she was going to reveal!

Lisa encouraged us that, although it's a lot of time and effort, it's not as scary as we think it will be - she was able to negotiate on the dates for the audit because she needed more time to pull together all the people who needed to be involved. She suggested checking the Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) copyright statement, policies (including housekeeping and weeding) and procedures around copyright compliance so that they could be shown to the CLA, and that the CLA auditor would take a snippet of the data report and check the scans against what was reported. The day that the auditor arrives, ensure they are well fed and watered and work with them to navigate the VLE and answer any questions they may have. A follow up report with any suggested changes is written which is sent to the Library Director and the Vice-Chancellor, and a follow-up visit may be necessary. The University of Brighton benefited from the audit in that the copyright policy was amended to become a service statement, and it raised the profile of copyright within the university. Finally, it's important to have a good grasp of not only what the licence says but also what our statutory rights are under copyright law, as this will help in discussions.

Chris Morrison from the University of Kent, Canterbury gave a great talk on 'Five things that make copyright difficult to communicate' and gave us some principles for effective communication of the topic. His five reasons that copyright concepts are difficult to get across to staff were: 1. It is what it is (in other words, there's no escaping that it's law and that infringement does have consequences); 2. How much you know can often be a hindrance - you either send people to sleep by arguing finer points of law or you leave your audience bewildered; 3. Using the wrong tone or medium - written guidance for copyright, if too long and wordy, often doesn't get read by staff; shaking the stick too much also puts people off; 4. Which sources to trust - there's a lot of information out there on copyright but quite often you never know if the source is appropriate, e.g. it may relate to a different jurisdiction or be opinions or propaganda; and 5. The danger of undirected conversation - we need to explain why some things can't be done in certain ways.

His principles for effective communication: use worked examples or narratives to explain your points rather than abstract examples; simplify and focus on the issue; use analogies; engage all the senses - get people to interact with copyright law; match the message and the medium to the audience, and strike the right tone; get your audience to take ownership rather than putting all the requirement to make a decision back on you; and engage with the community (at which LIS-Copyseek is very much the heart!).

Prior to lunch there was a panel discussion about how the HE sector can better represent itself when it comes to issues of copyright. JISC Legal noted that they cannot represent HE copyright officers but suggested that if we move away from the word 'compliance' towards the word 'quality', our organisations may take more notice. The Libraries and Archives Copyright Alliance (LACA) has been doing a lot of work to represent libraries, archives and the education sector when lobbying the government for changes to the law, and LIS-Copyseek is represented on LACA by me. However, there was a concern that there was no will amongst the major bodies representing education (such as Universities UK) to provide centralised negotiation on copyright licences.

After lunch Laurence Bebbington (University of Aberdeen) spoke about the tension between copyright law, open access, Research Council funder mandates and Creative Commons licences. He drilled down into issues of ownership of copyright, particularly in scholarly works written by academics. Under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988, works done in the course of employment belong to your employer. However, most universities choose to waive this for scholarly works, so that the copyright remains with the academic who is writing the article/monograph. Teaching materials, on the other hand, will be owned by the university, who will have a vested interest in them. Laurence was sceptical about open access, saying that it didn't sit well with copyright law as under copyright the author of a work gets to choose what they do with their work and should not be forced to do something with it by someone else. However, the next REF states that metadata of research outputs must be added to a repository within three months of acceptance for publication, and a number of full-text works will have to be made available too. This is not giving academic authors much freedom to decide what to do with their copyright works. Gold open access is also problematic; the requirement to add a CC-BY licence to a work means that there is a loss of control of rights by the author and leaves it open to exploitation by a commercial entity. He cited the case of 'Epigenetics, Environment and Genes', a CC-BY journal article that was made into a book by Apple Academic Press and now sells for over $100 without the knowledge of the author. He left us with the suggestion that there may be ethical issues with open access that perhaps we have overlooked.

Next up was Alan Rae, Copyright Adviser to Colleges Scotland, discussing the latest copyright exceptions. He summarised the education exceptions fairly neatly (I've done this in a previous post so won't repeat here!) and suggested that we as a copyright community build and share examples of how we interpret the exceptions in our own day to day work. He raised some interesting questions over data collection and the fact that collecting societies collect ever more data for unclear purposes. He mentioned that he sits on the group for the Copyright Hub and encouraged us to submit feedback on the Hub, along with suggestions for improvement, to him.

The final talk was given by Jason Miles-Campbell (JISC Legal) on 'Core Training for Copyright'. Jason suggested that more creative arts subjects should include a formal teaching aspect on copyright to raise awareness of it amongst young creators of IP, and that we should teach staff about copyright to get them to a level of basic awareness of it rather than overload them with too much legalese. He noted that HE (and education generally) is generally a compliant sector, keen to ensure quality resources and licence compliance. He suggested using the National Student Survey (NSS) results to put pressure on senior managers for improving the quality of learning resources for students, and that copyright officers should get a pay increase by a grade or two (never going to happen!).

By this point we were running a little late, but we had time for one more Panel Discussion which looked at different methods of digitised course provision. Monique Ritchie (Brunel University), Kate Vasili (Middlesex University), Paul Cave (University of Leeds) and Annette Moore (Sussex University) discussed the different ways that their universities supplied digital core readings, with the obvious point that everyone does this differently!

Finally, the day ended with a series of lightning talks from a number of people on a topic of their choice. These talks ranged from lessons learning from CLA audits, the perils of being a new copyright officer, an update on music licences, and a particularly fantastic presentation by Annette Moore from Sussex University on her game of copyright Snakes and Ladders, which she is hoping to licence under Creative Commons and make available on Jorum for the sector!

The whole day was absolutely fantastic and a great chance to network with other copyright professionals from the sector. It is well worth attending for any copyright officer or librarian from HE, FE and schools, as the energy, enthusiasm and opportunity for sharing information and practice is contagious! Many thanks to Lisa Redlinski, Monique Ritchie, Kate Vasili, Jane Secker and Paul Cave for organising this great event; hope there's another one soon!

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