In 2014 there were a series of amendments to the 1988 Copyright Designs and Patents Act in the UK, following The Hargreaves Review of Intellectual Property. The final wording of the exceptions were subject to wrangling between the bodies representing authors, publishing, music and film industry and those representing libraries, museums and the cultural heritage organisations. However, we finally in June and October saw the amendments passed in parliament. In addition, just a month or so ago the Intellectual Property Office launched a scheme to licence ‘orphan works’ (which are works that where a copyright owner cannot be traced).
My role at LSE is to provide advice and support to staff wishing to use materials online to support their teaching, which often involves discussing issues of copyright. In October I attempted to summarise the main changes to the law on a copyright amendments webpage. However, I appreciate that copyright is not everyone’s favourite topic and sometimes not the easiest law to understand. In this blog post I’ll explore a few of the new exceptions and what they might mean in practice for staff and students at LSE.
Firstly, in making these changes to the law, the government recognised that quite a number of new exceptions permit copying that may have been going on already as common practice. For example, the new exception that now permits copying for personal use, now allows us to copy a legitimately owned CD onto our MP3 player or phone. I’m sure many of us had been doing this unaware it was technically illegal.
For those of us in education, we were really pleased to see a new exception which permits small amounts of copyright material to be used for ‘illustration for instruction.’ The copying must be ‘fair’ and not damage sales of a work, but prior to this change educational copying previously had to be carried out using a ‘non-mechanical process’ such as writing out in long hand! I’m not talking about the multiple copying of extracts from books and journal articles for classroom use which is usually undertaken using LSE’s CLA Licence. This new exception allows teachers to use small amounts of copyright works for instruction purposes. For example an image or diagram that you might wish to use in PowerPoint to illustrate a point you are making in your teaching. Anything you include should be limited to what is necessary to illustrate the points you wish to make. You should also always include an acknowledgement of the source of any copyright material. But this new exception makes a lot of sense in the digital world.
Another much needed new exception is that which permits copying for persons with disabilities, to allow them to access material in a suitable format. Previously copying was permitted only for persons with a visual impairment, however this has been extended to cover all types of disabilities. It also now covers all categories of copyright works, including films and sound recordings and contracts, for example from a publisher, cannot override this exception. However this exception will only apply where an accessible copy is not available commercially at a reasonable cost. An example of something you can now do is to include subtitles on a film for disabled students or to scan a reading to supply to a student who is dyslexic.
Finally another interesting exception that will be really important for researchers in the future, is the exception that permits copying for text and data mining purposes. Text and data mining is the use of an automated technique to analyse text and data to identify patterns or trends. You must have lawful access to the work to make use of this exception, which means you will need to purchase material yourself or use subscriptions to databases or sources. Also the copy can only be used for non-commercial research. However, the exception cannot be overriden by a contract from a publisher or content provider. In this era of ‘big data’ text and data mining will become increasingly important and text mining forms the basis of our next NetworkEDGE seminar on 14th January 2015, ‘Hacking the Archive’ given by Professor Matthew Connelly.
I’m really interested in copyright, but also interested in levels of ‘copyright literacy’ amongst those who work in libraries, archives, museums and the cultural heritage sector. I launched a survey for UK professionals in this sector last week, so if you work in this field do consider completing it. If you would like to find out more about the changes to copyright law and how they might affect you, there are some useful government documents from the IPO or do get in touch with LTI.