The Wider Context (a) Legislation and Copyright

I work with lecturing staff from across the institution to develop and redevelop their online courses in many instances it is required to remind them about the legislation connected to:


Fair Dealing is one aspect of the 1988 Act where staff are unfamiliar with what is permissible in relation to this legal term.. Lecturing staff in general , due to poor network connections in the past and the possibility of materials being removed from a web site, have preferred to download documents, presentations etc from websites and store them on the institutional VLE for use by students. Where staff have taken the time to consider the legal standing of this, they have assumed that they are covered by Section 29(1) of the 1988 Act and ignored other sections which identify limitations to Fair Dealing. The lecturing staff don’t consider that without adequate permission this could be an illegal act and that linking to the original document or seeking permission from the owner to download and use the materials are the preferred options.

It is also the case that staff lack knowledge about the materials that may be available for free under Open Educational Resources (OER) and what can be legally used under the institutions Copyright Licencing Agency CLA licence. The CLA Licence held until very recently by the University had various restrictions which staff were unaware of in relation to using video recordings.on the VLE

 Data protection is another area that staff need to be reminded about on occasion and how it is not acceptable for student details to be made available to other members of the cohort. Due to staff extending their use of Moodle, this is becoming less of an issue but there have been occasions where spreadsheets containing student information have been sent to all students on a course.

Yet another issue that is currently arising is that of performing rights in relation to staff videoing their lectures and add to this the use of copyrighted material in their presentations that may then be broadcast or recorded.

Advice on Copyright

I have been involved in producing multiple online modules within our VLE (Moodle). The modules contain a variety of resources ranging from PDF’s, Word Documents and PowerPoint presentations. The PowerPoint presentations are usually the lecture slides, which are made available to students through the module by the lecturer. Obviously the lecturers are used to teaching in a face to face environment and want to make their lectures as engaging as possible, through the use of images, video and referencing other materials or resources. The problem that occurs is that the lecture slides contain copyright protected material, this can be images taken from other websites or YouTube videos. These lecture materials are not suitable for an online environment, due to the copyright infringements that take place.

The main problem was lack of knowledge on the lecturer’s part, they were not aware of the copyright infringements they had made. The other issue encountered was, the assumption that because materials were available online it is appropriate to use them, because they are available for “public consumption”.

In order to address these issues staff awareness had to be raised along with being able to direct lecturers to the appropriate resources and information. If specific questions relating to copyright were asked I directed the lecturers to our Subject Librarians or Jisc legal from where they could contact an expert who can advise them. The other resource I directed the lecturer’s to is the Creative Commons image search, this would allow them to find suitable replacement images for their PowerPoint slides and other materials. I advised them about the various licence agreements associated with the Creative Commons images – so they would know to give credit to the original creator of the image, this is part of the Attribution licence (for example).

As mentioned above some of the lecturers had also embedded videos from YouTube, directly into their Moodle module(s) or online lecture materials.  Permission had not been asked for and in some cases the videos were recordings from television or adverts from major companies. I enquired with Jisc legal what the best course of action would be and I was advised that if the YouTube account holder owns the copyright of the materials uploaded then it is OK to embed these Youtube videos within a password protected VLE. However under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988, if the original Youtube user does not own the copyrights to the video he/she has uploaded then if embedded in the Universities VLE we would risk potential copyright infringement. Therefore I advised that three of the embedded videos where the owner was not the copyright owner got removed and instead links to information or other online sources were put in they’re place.

Recreation of copyright free images

One of the Moodle modules a colleague of mine was collaborating on with a UWS lecturer, required a graphic on the main module page to be recreated using a combination of images from Creative Commons and original artwork. The image the lecturer had produced comprised of copyright protected material taken from various websites. To ensure the image I produced would not infringe copyright I elected to use images found with the appropriate Creative Commons licences only. I used the search engine via Creative Commons Flickr, as I found this had a variety of images which suited my requirements.

I found when using the Creative Commons images one stumbling block, the images that you originally sourced can of course be removed by the creator. As a result of some images I originally sourced being removed, I did have to find suitable replacements. Another factor as well, is to observe and adhere to the licence agreement – Attribution requires that the original creator of the image is given credit. In order to ensure best practice was adhered to I referred to the attribution best practice page, this ensured I was able to give proper credit to the creator of the image(s).

Due to investigating the licences available and adhering to the best practices of Attribution, I used the images I sourced to produce a graphic for the main module page.  Going forward, I would suggest anyone who is planning on utilising Creative Commons to be aware of the various licences available and restrictions with each of them and how to reference images properly.

Reflective Statement

Small but important changes have been made to Copyright law and guidance by the UK Government to make it better suited for the digital age. This in turn will affect how you can use books, films, music and photographs within the context of a password protected VLE. There is the false perception amongst some staff that it’s OK to have materials that infringe copyright within their materials, because no one will find out due to them being located within our VLE. This of course is certainly not the case and highlights that staff require training and awareness raising in relation to Copyright and fair dealing. The team I’m part of research copyright, data protection as best we can and educate ourselves as best we can by using resources like Jisc Legal and our own subject librarians. However I feel given the depth and change that occurs within Copyright a specialist department within the University is required in order to address the needs of the universities staff. This would hopefully educate staff and give them a point of contact that we can all refer to; currently our advice is coming from different sources and obviously for the reason of consistency it would be beneficial to have a single point of contact.

In order to address the issue of copyright with the modules we develop in conjunction with members of staff part of the conditions that must be adhered to is that the materials they provide us with do not infringe copyright. We require the member of staff to sign a form to this effect declaring that materials they have provided do not infringe copyright. This is intended to have  the added benefit of being able to discuss copyright and legalisation with staff and raise their awareness but it may just be considered as a get out clause for ourselves and pushing responsibility to someone else rather than really dealing with the issue..

The institution is beginning to address copyright in the form of auditing staff modules. The online evening school module I taught was one of the random 54 modules selected for auditing. I found this to be a valuable process as I was able to review my materials and prove where they were produced. This exercise enables records to be kept, showing the staff at UWS do take copyright seriously and have materials that do not infringe copyright. I think this is an important step as it will encourage staff to review their materials, and engage in discussion and raise awareness in relation to copyright.  I would hope this can lead to the debate about having our own copyright department. This would also tie into the universities focus on distance learning which will of course expose our module materials to a wider online audience and therefore more scrutiny.

Copyright and Legislation within UWS is very much an ongoing issue, as the laws and legislations change we will have to keep up to date and inform staff. As I suggested earlier I do believe a copyright department or team are required within the university to facilitate raising awareness, delivering training and workshops.

The University is currently considered what Open Education would mean and what impact this would have on how we address copyright. This has the potential to start looking at copyright not as an add-on that is examined once the module materials are in place in a protected online environment but at the beginning of the design process where the intention is that the materials will be opened to the world.

PDF of Creative Commons referencing used in Moodle Module

Email to Jisc regarding Embedded You Tube videos in Moodle module

jisc email image.pdf

5.1MB | Tuesday, 04 March 2014 | Details

Audit request


606.8KB | Friday, 01 August 2014 | Details