You may have heard in the news that new copyright exceptions came into force in the UK on the 1st June 2014. At LSE I have been trying to keep staff up to date with the changes and what they mean for teaching, learning and research and with this in mind I have drafted a set of guidelines. However, I thought I would take the opportunity to highlight a few of the new amendments – which are mainly changes to copyright exceptions, and what they mean in practice.

The changes around educational copying are probably of most interest to those of us in higher education. Section 32 of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act had an outdated (some might say ludicrous) clause that permitted educational copying provided a ‘reprographic process’ was not used. This ruled out any form of photocopying or scanning for teaching and meant essentially you had to rely on your Copyright Licensing Agency (CLA) Licence or write things out in long hand! The new exception means you can display material on interactive whiteboards (or on the VLE) provided you must include a sufficient acknowledgment – essentially it sanctions what a lot of teachers were probably doing already. However, this exception is subject to ‘fair dealing’ so you should stick to a small amount of the work and the material you use must be illustrative of a subject you are teaching. It certainly broadens the scope for including third party material in teaching (for example in PowerPoint or on Moodle) for illustrative purposes, but a teacher will need to judge what constitutes ‘fair’. I recently watched the JISCLegal Masterclass and they suggested that ‘fair’ might mean displaying low resolution images or making material available for a limited amount of time. In CLT are we are taking a fairly cautious approach and would urge staff to source copyright free images or those licensed under Creative Commons for use in teaching if they are using them on an on-going basis. We have a list of image resources available on our website.

One of the other important parts of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act that affects most of us at some point is Section 29, which permits copying of small amounts of a copyright work for private study and non-commercial research. If a student or academic researcher photocopy a journal article or a small amount of a book for their course reading, this is the part of the law they rely on. However, it has now been extended to cover all different types of copyright works (such as sound recordings and film) and cannot be over-written by a contract. There is also a new exception that has been added to the law (Section 29A) which permits ‘text and data mining’ for non-commercial research, which could literally unlock data sets and enable new types of research to be undertaken. Ross Mounce recently wrote a post on the LSE Impact blog about this new amendment.

These are just two of the changes that came into force at the start of June – there are a number of other important changes affecting libraries and also permitted the creation of accessible copies of material for people with disabilities. If you would like to find out more about the new copyright changes, then do read CLT’s guidance. I would also recommend you take a look at the recent blog post by Ben White and Naomi Korn from the Libraries and Archives Copyright Alliance (LACA). With that in mind I am looking forward to our LACA meeting on Thursday this week where we have been promised champagne to celebrate these small but important changes to copyright law, that should make things slightly easier for education, libraries and the cultural and heritage sector. Cheers!