Copyright and Digitising Content
Posted October 21, 2009on:
Copyright. It seems like a minefield of potential problems and just when you think you have it all worked out, you find another potential issue. We get asked a lot about copyright of digital information and where to obtain information. Hopefully in this blog post I can give you some pointers for where to look for advice and the restrictions you should be aware of.
It is essential that any copying of content into a digital format, whether by scanning or retyping extracts, is licensed in some way. The CLA Licence for State FE Colleges does give some permissions for digitising UK works provided your college has an up-to-date CLA licence and is a member of the Association of Colleges (AoC) and that the content is only for the benefit of staff, students, and consultants of the licensee. (See the definition of Authorised Persons within the licence for further details). However there are some exclusions to this licence which can be found on the CLA website.
All content that has been digitised must be stored in a secure area that is only accessible to these Authorised Persons and there must be no links to this content from external or third party websites.
The licence restricts what can be digitised within any one course of study. The digitised form must be no more than:
- 5% of any published edition or
- one complete chapter of a book or
- one whole journal article or
- one short story or poem not exceeding 10 pages in length or
- the entire report of a single case
The college must hold one copy of the original material and the digital copy must be a verbatim copy of the original Licenced Material. In addition, the identity of the author and the title of the work from which it is extracted must be included.
This is all well and good, but where does it leave visually impaired learners? The CLA FE licence does permit copying of content for the sole personal use of visually impaired users - provided any digitisation is made in accordance with the Copyright and Visual Impairment Joint Industry guidelines. This is a specific entry to the licence only for learners with visual impairment – the definition of which is expanded in the guidelines.
The material being digitised must not be readily available in a suitable format and the college must retain the original licenced work.
Some of the standard CLA FE licence restrictions above remain in place:
- If this original work is lent, sold or given away, any digitised format of that work must be deleted or transferred with the original.
- The digitised work must not be made available on an intranet, newsgroups or on the internet and cannot be passed onto a third party.
- The digitised copy of the original work may not be amended other than as required to enable full access. This must be done with the permissions of the author or their representative.
The copyright of the material always remains with the copyright owner and some formats can be excluded from these permissions. It is always advisable to request the permissions from the copyright owner before digitising any text content. JISC TechDis provide a Publisher Lookup tool which gives details of how to contact each publisher and simplify the process.
JISC Legal has recently provided us with general guidance regarding digitising content for learners with disabilities.
Clearly where learners with disabilities are involved there is an obligation on the institution to provide them with accessible materials. Where the learner has a visual impairment then they are able to copy and adapt materials for their learning. Where those with other disabilities require copies to be made of learning materials this can be arranged by the institution. It is in this situation where it is important to have the appropriate permission from the publisher for the copying. The publishers involved may be happy to have their work copied in the way described but that should be clarified with the publisher preferably in writing.
It may be valuable for institutions to check what use can be made of materials licensed for learners and ensure that and new agreements to purchase learning materials provide for conversion to electronic means for learners that require it.
Whew! Hope that helps. All links to useful information are below. Feel free to comment and add questions and I will endeavour to answer them or point you to where the answer may be.
The CLA FE licence:
The CLA FE webpage (including exclusions):
Copyright and visual impairment – Joint Industry Guidelines:
Publisher Lookup UK: