By Anthony O’Brien, Copyright Advisor, University of Newcastle Library
This is the first post in a planned series that will look at considerations for copyright as part of being digitally dextrous.
When you download or use something from the web, do you actually stop to think about who owns the copyright and how you can use it? It’s fair to say that most people don’t, and this can lead to issues later.
But content on the web is in the public domain, right?
There’s a big difference between being publicly available and actual ‘Public Domain’ (capital letters) in terms of copyright. Just because you can access it for free, doesn’t mean that the copyright owner will allow you to take it and use it however or wherever you like… [insert sad face here]
Being copyright literate
When we have conversations around digital dexterity, things like ‘media literacy’ and ‘information literacy’ are usually included, but the considerations rarely extend to copyright literacy. After all, if someone were going to, for example, remix content, true digital dexterity should also mean that they would understand what they could then do with that remixed content. This is where a basic level of copyright literacy becomes just as important as the more recognised elements of digital dexterity.
‘Fair use’ versus ‘fair dealing’
Part of the issue is misunderstandings around how copyright works internationally – there isn’t one system worldwide. When users search for copyright information online, it’s inevitably something about ‘fair use’ that they find. As Frank Ponte noted in his post on OER, ‘fair use’ is part of U.S. copyright law and is different to legislation we have here. ‘Fair use’ tends to be broader in its application than the Australian version, ‘fair dealing’, which can cause problems.
So where can I start?
- Look at where you’re taking your digital resources from and their potential usage issues. Can you find appropriately-licensed alternatives (e.g. Creative Commons)?
- Include information on copyright and its application/s in your instruction modules and training sessions;
- Reach out to your institution’s copyright person and collaborate! They might be nice (
maybedefinitely) and will most likely be keen to get the word out;
- Look out for other posts coming in this series. Plans include images, video, music, etc., but if there’s something you’d like to see, please let us know.
Keywords: copyright ; Creative Commons; digital resources; fair dealing; fair use; licensing ; literacies