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Copyright and the (virtual) classroom

February 11, 2010

James Clay last week published a blog post on copyright, entitled Are you stealing stuff?, which provoked a great deal of discussion. As ever with copyright, the situation is complicated. However James (not a lawyer, but he knows this subject well) provided some useful clarifications. For instance:

  • you can show a copyrighted image in class (whether from a book or from the web) but you are infringing copyright if you insert a copy of the image in a Powerpoint presentation
  • the above is true regardless of whether you intend to show the Powerpoint presentation in class, or upload it to a VLE
  • even if you obtain the image from Wikimedia Commons you might be infringing copyright, because there are differences between US and UK copyright law, but you are on much safer ground

James has now followed this up with Have you stopped beating your wife? in which he focusses on solutions to these problems – pointing out for instance that there are lots of images out there on the net which teachers can use without infringing copyright. These include images published with a Creative Commons licence, which you can search for quite easily using services such as Google Image Search and Flickr. And then there are sites which specifically allow use of their materials in education, notably the Visual Arts Data Service and Wellcome Images. While here at TVU we have access to subscription-based services including SCRAN and Education Image Gallery (which provides access to Getty Images).

We are also well served in having licences with both the Copyright Licensing Agency and the Educational Recording Agency which – subject to certain conditions – permit the University to make digital copies of printed materials  and off-air TV broadcasts.

There’s a page on copyright (aimed at staff) on the TVU Online help site, while the TVU Library Services website provides copyright information for both staff and students.

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