Much of the copying that takes place in education is with the permission of the copyright owner, usually by means of a licence. A licence is a contractual agreement between the copyright owner and user that limits how the user can use the work. Copyright owners are largely free to deal with copyright in any way that they see fit. Dealings with copyright take two basic forms.
- First, there is assignment of copyright which has the effect of transferring ownership of the rights to another person.
- Second, there is licensing, which is the grant of permission, often subject to conditions as to format, extent, purpose and time, allowing the ‘licensee’ to perform some act in respect of copyright that would otherwise be an infringement of the owner’s copyright.
Licences may be exclusive (meaning the owner agrees not to license the same rights to anyone else) or, more commonly, non-exclusive (meaning the same rights can be granted to others).
Jisc Collections negotiates with publishers at a national level to procure and license affordable digital content for education and research in the UK. Jisc Model Licences are negotiated to obtain favourable licence terms for education. You can get to know and understand the Jisc collection of licences in order to make sure that your institution is getting the most out of the online resources that are subscribed to.
Many groups of copyright owners are represented by a collecting society. A collecting society is able to negotiate and agree licences with users on behalf of owners and will collect any royalties the owners are owed. In many cases a collecting society will offer a blanket licence for all the works by owners it represents, for example for music to be played in a shop or restaurant.
Such blanket licences have been negotiated for the education sector. One set of blanket licences is the Copyright Licensing Agency Ltd (CLA) licences that cover photocopying and the right to scan and copy from digital titles as well as print. Further details can be found on the CLA website.
Open educational resources (OERs)
Open educational resources (OERs) are teaching and learning materials that are freely available for everyone to use and further explanation is available in our OER Guide. OERs are increasingly being made available by colleges, universities and other educational bodies. They are resources licensed in a way such that they can be re-used, re-purposed, re-mixed and re-distributed.
There are a number of licence options for institutions considering releasing OERs, the most common being various iterations of the Creative Commons licence. Where the person or institution wishing to release the OER is the copyright owner of the entire work, the release of it under a Creative Commons licence is straightforward.
It is a much more difficult issue where materials belonging to someone else are included. Clearing the materials for release under an open licence is necessary. Alternatively it may also be possible to remove the third party material, and limit the resource to materials where the copyright provenance is known.
Some authors and rights holders decide to allow relatively open access to their work without charge. One way to do this is by using a Creative Commons licence. Creative Commons has been embraced by many as a way for content creators to exercise some control whilst generally sharing their work.
Orphan works are copyrighted material that is believed or known to be in copyright but whose copyright owner is unknown or untraceable. In order to use these works, and provide access to them, institutions have to effectively manage the associated rights and permissions and risks in using these works. Guidance on how to get permission to copy a creative work for which the right holder(s) cannot be found is available on the Intellectual Property Office website.
Further information on copyright licenses is available on the Intellectual Property Office website.