It’s that time of year again. OER17 conference will see a gathering of the OER clans in the UK once more. Together we will map the political landscape for OER. I will be arguing that it is OER which will save the HE institutions from Brexit, Trump and possibly Indyref2.
It is clear that business models associated with OER are in their infancy and whether any institution pursues models[…….] will be highly dependent on any given institutions business strategy.’(1)
“The clear identification of ownership and copyright permissions is integral to managing open educational resources. This means that institutions become much more aware of intellectual property in relation to the resources they create and use. “ (2)
The senior management briefing papers and guides produced as a result of the JISC /HEA funding programmes (2009-13) offered suggestions to colleagues within institutions on how to best engage with senior stakeholders. They also offered suggestions to those stakeholders as to reasons why they might invest in OER as part of strategic planning. And yet, at many OER conferences, workshops and events the questions are still raised: ‘What can we do to get institutional support for our open education practice?’ ‘ How can we persuade senior managers?’
What piece of the puzzle is missing? In this presentation I will offer a view from the perspective of one UK HEI senior management which I hope will be of interest and use to colleagues working in large institutions at a time of Brexit and Trump. Making a business case for OER is simple if it aligns that activity to institutional strategies for investment, market differentiation, student and staff satisfaction or IT, IP and mitigation of risk. The context of OER includes a range of views relating to the economics of OER . This short presentation will focus on just one, but one which identifies persuading budget holders within the institution as key to successful sustainable services.
This session is a presentation rather than a workshop but please feel free to bring a copy of your own University’s strategic mission.
We are lucky to be able to learn from best practice at other institutions. The excellent Jane Secker ( UK Copyright Literacy) has been doing some research to find out what the issues are. She has surveyed UK HE institutions.
The position regarding copyright ownership is enshrined in statute – the Copyright Designs and Patent Act 1988. Section 11(2) provides that copyright created in the course of an individual’s employment vests in the employer. Often this statutory right is backed up with provision in a contract of employment but our University of Edinburgh standard contracts are not explicit in this regard. As a result academic colleagues can sometimes be a bit surprised by this.
You may sometimes wish to use copyright work (e.g. an image, video clip or piece of text) belonging to another person or organisation in the course of your teaching. The Copyright, Designs and Patents Act (1988) currently states that copying for educational purposes is permitted, so long as it is not undertaken by a mechanical process. This essentially means you cannot scan, photocopy, or record (using lecture capture) copyright works without explicit permission from the owner.
In terms of lecture recordings, your options are as follows:
Pause the recorder
Edit the recording later
Provide links to the relevant material instead
Use Open Educational Resources (OER)
Just record audio
Are there exceptions that would allow copyright works to be used?
Showing a video, such as a clip from a film and playing music is permitted under the law, so long as it is solely for the purposes of education and the lecture is not recorded.
Similarly, you can use small amounts of copyright material for the purposes of ‘criticism and review.’ Clearly, good practice requires acknowledging your sources, and stating where it is being used for criticism and review. In this case the work can be included in a recorded lecture.
What am I allowed to include in a recorded lecture?
The Copyright Licensing Agency (CLA) Higher Education Licence allows small amounts of published copyright works (books and journals) to be copied for teaching purposes. This includes illustrations and images within the works.
In addition, if material that you find online is licensed under Creative Commons (CC) – a less restrictive form of copyright – then you will be able to show this material in a lecture that is being recorded. Again, the source should be acknowledged.
What about material from YouTube?
The copyright in material that you might show from sites such as YouTube lies with the creator of the video, so you would need to obtain permission directly from them (YouTube cannot grant this on their behalf). Some of these materials may be available for educational use or under a CC licence. Although it is permissible to show these recordings for educational purposes, and to provide links to the material, you should exclude this content from a recorded lecture. This can be done by pausing the recording whilst the clip is being played.
Although easy to download, online images are frequently subject to some sort of copyright, and unless you own the copyright yourself, it is usually NOT legal or acceptable to download them and use them in your recorded lectures.
There are several ways that you can legally use images in your recorded lectures:
Use images where their copyright has expired
Many sites e.g. Flickr, allow you to use images under a Creative Commons (CC) licence – all CC licences mean the copyright owner must be attributed.
Contact your Subject Librarian – they will be able to sign post CC subject specific image sources
Create your own
Obtain permission to use them from the copyright holder
What about other cases when you can show material you don’t own in lectures?
There are several other instances when you can use copyright material, including:
When the copyright period in the material has expired
When University of Edinburgh owns the copyright of the material e.g. publicity material, other learning and teaching resources produced by the University.
When you have specific copyright clearance ( under licence via the Library) to use the materials in this way.
What are the risks associated with using copyright material?
You are responsible for making sure that your recorded lectures do not infringe copyright. University of Edinburgh, however, is at risk of prosecution for infringing copyright, either within recorded lectures, or by uploading materials to a VLE, public folders, or another website.
Although it may be legal to use these materials within a class, it does not necessarily make it legal to include them within a recorded lecture and/or upload these to a VLE.
Three weeks ago, while preparing my presentation for e-learningforum@ed conference I was musing on the similarities between ‘technical debt’ and what one might call ‘ copyright debt’.
I was thinking about institutional risks of not being open. Institutional risks are sometimes legal, sometimes reputational, sometimes financial. Mostly, at IT directors’ meetings we talk about the need to mitigate risks early on, and avoid risks in the future.
Generally, the risks of not engaging with open practice are reputational: Other institutions are doing it; we might miss out on this good thing; we should be seen to be bold in digital education and leading edge in our open research. There is a risk to our reputation if colleagues do not seem to be up to-date-on licensing and refer to online materials or data as ‘open’ when they are not. But most of those risks are easily hidden under a smear of open-washing and a vagueness about the definition of open in different contexts.
These are not risks which will ever convince a VP Finance and Resources to invest.
If you want to convince an IT director or a CIO to invest in systems which have built-in open-licensing workflows, protecting the institution against the risk of expensive copyright debt may be the way forward.
My definition of ‘copyright debt’ is based on my understanding of ‘technical debt’. Technical debt is a metaphor often used in IT to explain why it costs so much to replace IT systems. I use it to explain why rather than spending my budget on new exciting learning and teaching functionality, I am having to spend it to replace something we thought we already had.
You can ready about technical debt on Wikipedia. It’s the cost of not doing something properly in the first place. From the moment you build a system poorly, without due attention to software code rigour and process, you begin to accrue debt and then interest on that debt. From the moment you don’t fix, patch and maintain the code, the same thing happens. At some point you are going to have to go back and fix it, and the longer you leave it the more expensive it will be*.
From the moment a colleague tells you that they don’t have time, or don’t care about the copyright licensing and metadata on their teaching materials and load them up into a VLE, online course environment, departmental website, online course-pack, lecture power-point slides, whatever, you start to accrue ‘copyright debt’.
Someone will have to go back to those materials at some point to check them, figure out who made them and when and check for 3rd party content. The longer time passes (or staff change) between the original materials being uploaded in to the VLE the harder it will be to find the original source.
The cost will hit at the moment that you migrate from one VLE to another, or from one website to another, or from one media asset management system to another. At that point lecturers and departmental administrators will be asked to confirm that they have copyright permission for the materials they are migrating, and they will say ‘ I have no idea, in fact I don’t even remember/know where all the bits came from’.
They will suggest that someone in a central service (usually the library) should do the checking, and that is where the cost hits. No-one in the library is super-human enough ( unless you pay them a lot) to check all the hundreds of teaching and learning materials in your VLE, so most of it will just be binned and colleagues will be outraged that they have to make it all again.
I’d suggest the common causes of copyright debt include (a combination of):
Business pressures, where the business considers getting something released sooner before all of the necessary copyright searches are complete.
Lack of process or understanding, where the businesse is blind to the concept of copyright debt, and make decisions without considering the implications.
Lack of flexible components, where materials are not openly licensed, the re-use permissions are not flexible enough to adapt to changes in course content.
Lack of time, which encourages colleagues to do quick google searches and take materials they find without checking the license.
Lack of metadata, where content is created without necessary supporting metadata. That work to create the supporting metadata represents a debt that must be paid.
Lack of collaboration, where knowledge of open practice isn’t shared around the organization and business efficiency suffers, or junior learning technologists are not properly mentored.
Parallel development at the same time on two or more VLEs can cause the build up of copyright debt because of the work that will eventually be required to move content from one to another. The more content developed in isolation without clear licensing , the more debt that is piled up.
Delayed reformatting – the formats which were used for creating learning objects quickly becomes obsolete. Without clear permission to make adaptations it is hard for older TEL materials to be converted to new formats. The longer that reformatting is delayed, and the more content is written to use the older format, the more debt that piles up that must be paid at the time the conversion is finally done.
Lack of alignment to standards, where industry standard features, frameworks, open technologies are ignored. Eventually, integration with standards will come, doing it sooner will cost less.
Lack of knowledge, when the content creator simply doesn’t know how or why to use open materials.
The challenge in all this of course, is that the individual academics making the materials don’t care about the longer term cost to the central services of this debt. This argument won’t persuade them to take the time to change their practice, so we must build rigour for open practice into the workflows of our enterprise-wide systems and services as soon as we possibly can, making it easy for colleagues to make positive choices.
Or else we risk a whole heap of copyright debt.
*Basically it is the software equivalent of ‘ a stitch in time saves nine’.
(While I was doing this thinking, I bumped into a session at #OER15 called ‘the cost of not going open‘ by Viv Rolfe which also looked to quantify costs. Viv’s approach is to look at costs and savings around academic time spent creating materials, which complements my thinking rather nicely.)