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Posts Tagged ‘ipr’

IPR Workshop

Posted by taniarowlett on 4 October, 2010

Last week I attended the Strategic Content Alliance (SCA) IPR workshop hosted by JISC.  The event was run exceptionally well by Naomi Korn and Sarah Fahmy and included overviews of the current progress of the Gowers review, the mounting case law surrounding the issue of privacy vs public interest and the remaining uncertainties relating to the future impact of the Digital Economy Bill. 

There was a great deal of discussion within the group throughout the day, but three main themes emerged:

  • the increasing emphasis on developing a business model to generate income from the rights we hold, whilst continuing to participate in the open access movement.  How can we best generate commercial income but still make our works open access?
  • the clear need for legislation on the use of orphan works.  Currently the decision to digitise and/or use works where there is no clear and contactable rights holder is determined by the level of risk associated with their use, and the decisions vary widely from person to person and institution to institution
  • the weighing up of benefit vs the cost of clearing obscure works.  Naomi made a good point in saying that the more obscure an item, the more cultural and educational interest it may hold.  However, for those of us involved in trying to clear rights for any use of these items it can be extremely time consuming, for perhaps little perceived gain.

With Universities and public bodies finding themselves having to justify their use of public funds, the question is whether we should be pursuing activities which provide us with maximum ‘internal’ educational use; making more of our creative output available to public; or be trying to use the unique resources we hold (specialised archive material, high profile academic research) to generate alternative forms of funding, and which is the most cost-effective?

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Is copyright a help or a hindrance to UK research?

Posted by gazjjohnson on 30 July, 2010

Well I know one answer to that in recent months from Peter Murry-Rust, but today I’m reading a new report out from the British Library entitled “Driving UK Research: Is copyright a help or a hinderance“.  Interesting even before you open the 20 page report you’ll spot a disclaimer on the cover – that opinions inside are not necessarily those of the BL, which is rather odd given their corporate logo is slap bang on the top left.  What the report does aim to bring are the view points of various researchers across the scholarly UK community.  

The authors of the essays are listed within, and I must confess having never heard of any of them; which is perhaps less of a surprise given they have spoken to academics across the sector; rather than those working in the realms of copyright.  There is a superb pull quote from Lynne Brindley (CEO British Library) right at the start. 

There is a supreme irony that just as technology is allowing greater access to books and other creative works than ever before for education and research, new restrictions threaten to lock away digital content in a way we would never countenance for printed material. 

The essays are in essence case studies into the frustrations and triumphs, the needs and the opportunities, the barriers and the workarounds used today by academic researchers.  An interesting contrast given in some is that of the fair dealing defence as it pertains more liberally to US academic institutions in contrast to our own, which is a surprise.  Given what I had seen of US (c) related law, I suspected that our North American cousins were more restrictive than the UK; yet on the whole they seem to be more permissive. 

I was interested to note the experiences of some academics seeking to clear materials for inclusion in scholarly monographs, being frustrated by tracking down rights holders.  This is a conversation I’ve had more than once with researchers here at Leicester, not to mention within the course of my team’s copyright work as well. 

From the other perspective one good example of the restrictions of copyright on research is given in relation to music research and the consideration that European Commission is seeking to lengthen rather than relax the copyright restrictions on sound recordings from 50 years to 95.  While arguably academics could find workarounds under fair use, the concern is that the greater body of the public will be locked away from historical recordings as effectively as they are from recent commercial releases. 

Another study highlights the risks in creating a simple series PowerPoint slides incorporating images, films or sound recordings etc.  That each academic needs to be at least conversant with the basics of copyright is a given, but it seems today that there is a requirement for their expertise to go much further.  While here in the library we can offer support and advice (and some of my most challenging and fulfilling conversations with academics in the last year have been in this realm) there are only so many hours in the day. 

Throughout the report there is a sense of frustration in the restrictions blocking the research of the individuals in some ways – and in many respects the commercialisation of the rights for deceased authors falling into the hands of commercial entities seems to be a particular challenge to some researchers.  Again having experienced the length of time and often considerable sums expected to license the rights of scholarly object for scholarly purposes (like BlackBoard) I found myself nodding in agreement. 

The role that advances in technology have is mentioned in more than one places.  I’ve oft-repeated the saying I heard years ago w.r.t. “Leaps in technology, lumbering legislation”, and it seems the more routes and ways that are available to access information for researchers, and the more (c) restricts them, the greater their frustration and the likelihood that they will simply ignore it and use it anyway.  While personally I’ve strong sympathies, with my work hat on this is something that is going to cause difficulties in the future for the sector as a whole.  Just takes one litigious publisher to decide enough is enough, and suddenly we’re in the middle of a shooting war.  Legally that is. 

The executive summary neatly identifies four key areas of commonality, which in brief are 

  • Calls for an extension to fair dealing provisions under UK copyright law to bring them into line with fair use doctrine in the US.
  • Allowing the use of orphan works.
  • Enforcing creators’ moral rights in order to preserve future creativity
  • addressing the issue of text mining and data indexing in the context
    of the barriers posed by the existing copyright regime.

Are the findings eye-opening?  Yes to a degree, but from conversations and experiences in recent years I can’t say that I’m surprised.  One only has to look to the open access movement to see what happens when academics rebel on mass over restrictive rights issues.  This report is therefore a must read by anyone working in copyright in the HE or FE sector today, especially in the support services!

(with many thanks to Graham Cornish for bring the report to my attention, credit where it’s due after all!)

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JISC Conference: April 13th 2010

Posted by gazjjohnson on 15 April, 2010

Round the corner from the conferenceThis Tuesday I travelled down to the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre in a very sunny Westminster to attend the annual JISC Conference.  This event draws a lot of senior people from across the educational sector; and it’s possible to run into more than a few VCs over coffee.  It’s also a rich opportunity to hear from the broadest cross section of educational computing projects.  What follows are my notes

 The day was introduced by Malcolm Reed and Chair of JISC then JISC Chair Sir Timothy O’Shea. Spoke about current value as well as what the impact the UK election and reduced funding means we as a sector will be dealing with.  The next 10 years will be difficult as the environmental impact as well as funding will impact on HE computing.  He highlighted an article in the Guardian (14/Apr/2010) on HE, commenting that it complemented the lively pre-conference debate 150 people yesterday led by JISC Vice-Chair.  Suggested to go back and have one key thing to implement.

Martin Bean, VC OU: The Learning Journey: From Informal to Formal

A packed hall of listeners

An anarchist at heart who sought to spark discussions and possibly put a few backs up; with imitable Australian bravado.  Distance education is on fire – because you cannot build enough brick and mortar institutions to keep pace with growth in HE; and thus need to look at alternative delivery modes.  Distance learning is growth area, as cannot build enough brick and mortar HEIs.  But 1/3 HE students are in private institutions – going to see a growth in private organisations providing this kind of educational role.

 Challenges for the custodians – need to educate citizens for new kinds of work.  STEM is key for a competitive workforce for the next 10-50-100 years for innovation.  Need to think about transformation of information into meaningful knowledge.  John Naisbitt book Megatrends was mentioned.  Learning in the workplace needs to become essential, and supported by HEIs more.

 Modern students need constant stimulation and hate complexity (among other aspects of their  desires) but does this mean we need to dumb down our degrees, or shouldn’t we adapt to the modern student expectations?  Is there nothing to be said for a proper old fashioned solid and complex education, I wondered  – where does that take us in terms of teaching critical thinking?

 What can be done to break down the barriers?  Multichannel.  YouTube and iTunes university – 342,000 downloads a week for the OU – in the top 10 in U channel; and most of that traffic comes from outside the UK, pay off is that many of their new students first encounter the OU in this way and are drawn in by the brand.  Informal learning, more cooperative environment and need for flexibility for educational institutions.  LLL need the ability to move in and out of HE formally and informally.  Comments that the D.E. Act is going to seriously interfere with this ability to evolve and use new patterns of education, research and training.

Living with IPR – the web, the law and academic practise

View out the window at lunchCharles Oppenheim opened with a passionate and scholarly dismantling of the appallingly poorly debated and rushed through Digital Economy Bill (now Act).  Then Jason Miles-Campbell (his sporran is a wifi hot spot allegedly) from JISC Legal spoke.  In the next five years there is unlikely to be changes to copyright protected items, you need to find an exemption. Gave an overview of the small changes in the law and clarifications under law for reuse of items.  Digital Economy act – what’s going to happen to institutions – some time to go to see if we are subscribers or ISPs as there will need to be case law.  Note that D.E. Act calls for a graduated response to infringement.  Talked about the Newsbin vs big media companies case.  Newsbin was indexing infringing material – in court case they were found to be infringing.  Court noted what we need to do to have an exemption for such a thing; Newsbin was effectively authorising infringement – encouraged copyright infringement by employing editors.  11 words effective of being substantial.  No good making a large amount of material available to staff, if they’re unsure if they can legally use it.  Patchwork licenses are a problem – different aspects of resources covered by different legislation.  May mean we need to ditch some resources that we won’t be able to use.  Need to make life easy, but we also need to be able to take risk decisions – e.g. like driving – there are times when 32mph in a 30 zone can be okay, but you have to make the judgement call.

Naomi Korn and Emma Beer, Copyright Consultants spoke next about orphan works- those where author is unknown or untraceable – they are significant barrier to public access, due to length of implicit copyright.  The internet is a major source of orphan works.  Items hundreds of years old can still be in © until end of 2039!  In a project 302 staff hours were spent to give only 8 permissions received for use in the British Library sound archive – massive staff effort to little effective impact.  EU Mile Project -registry of Image Orphan Works.  EU ARROW Project – accessible registries of rights information and orphan works.  One thing is clear dealing with orphan works even for major bodies and projects requires a lot of work and staff time, something that those of working in open access can be aware of.  In D.E. Bill Clause 43 tried to offer an exemption.  The D.E. Act means that for now you should only use orphan works within a risk management framework, as not clear quite what the impact of this will be.

Project OOER – best name of the day? #jisc10 Organising Open Educational Resources.  Barriers for sharing different levels of IPR awareness, licensing awareness etc.

 Open Access Session, Neil Jacobs (Chair)

Talked about the report authored by Charles Oppenheim et al late last year.  Moves to electronic only can help reduce costs in the scholarly communications sector.  Alma Swann gave an overview of the work looking at three models of repos gold, green, and role of repos as locations of quality assurance and publication – described by Alma as more futuristic.  Libraries do things differently, and this affected the model that they created.   Though unis increase in size the benefits don’t necessarily.  The Salford VC and Librarian of Imperial College spoke about how they’ve gone about making a strong case for open access, fiscally, at their institutions.

Community Collections and the power of the crowd, Catherine Grout

In a fascinating session looking at crowdsourcing and citizen science we heard from Kate Lindsay (Oxford, WWI Poetry Digital Archive) Arfon Smith (Oxford, Galaxy Zoo), William Perrin (Web innovator and Community Activist) and Katherine Campbell (BBC, History of the World) about 4 very different areas of community engagement.  From sourcing and augmenting first world war artefacts from across the country (including a roadshow – turn up and digitise!), though the power of Galaxy Zoo’s galactic classification project – which I’m proud to say I’m one of the thousands involved in.  What was clear from these two talks is the scale of what is achievable is amplified many, many times beyond what can be achieved through using more conventional team based approaches, and that the successes far outweigh the concerns over quality (indeed the “normalisation” of so many repeated analyses ala Wikipedia was touched on).

 William took a different approach building up a resource from the ground up, and using it as a focus for drawing a community together physically as well as virtually.  He showed some excellent examples of what you can do when a community develops a local Web resource rather than just one activist (I am reminded of the local Sileby village Website for an example of how NOT to approach this – locked down and run by a small clique).

For the twitter over view see here, here and here

Posted in Staff training, Web 2.0 & Emerging Technologies, Wider profession | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »