Virtual Learning Environments (VLE) are subject to copyright same as anything else. If you use other people's resources you have to have their permission to RE-USE them in your VLE.

And the most FAQ on VLE's is ...

Q: But it's password protected; secure; a trusted audience; only pupils and teachers; and it's for education purposes - doesn't that mean "copyright doesn't really matter?"

A: No! It's the same as anywhere else. You are RE-USING other people's materials - you need permission to copy them and to make them available to other people. In licence terms a VLE is often categorised as being 'beyond' the school, a further space to licence.

What materials can we use?

Material you make yourself: and you may want to give that some form of copyright notice
Open licence materials, such as 'Creative Commons' or 'Open Government Licence' licenced materials
Out of copyright or public domain materials
Materials that you have asked formally for permissions and the owner has agreed.
Pupil work if you have parental/carer agreement

Do school licences allow use in VLEs? 

 CLA scanning licence covers use in VLE .

 ERA + (ERA PLus) - but not the basic ERA licence - covers broadcast materials. NB. The ERA licence draws a distinction between the school as a physical entity and the VLE which is an extension of the school.

 Subscription resources - you have to check the terms and conditions; some, like 'NEN Gallery', 'Images for Education', 'Audio Network' and 'SCRAN', will allow VLE use, but some may not. Don't make assumptions as the school will have signed a contract with terms and conditions of use.

 CDs and other recorded music: No. You have to get permission. Putting CDs 'into' the VLE would mean a format shift ("ripping") which isn't permitted in UK. The 'copying' and 're-distribution' involved would probably break the terms and conditons of the licence that accompanies the music in whatever format you get it.

 CLIPART: Some sources will - some won't. You have to check. 

Is embedding clips OK?

 You can embedd code from a website such as 'You Tube' - BUT you should ascertain the copyright conditions on the clip first. If permission is given through, for instance a CC licence, then you could use it. If copyright isn't clear - steer clear - or go to the source (and the source isn't the website - in this example, 'You Tube' - it's the distributor or copyright owner of the video) and request permission. Embedding doesn't copy a file but it does communicate it (re-distribute) to an audience so infringement could still be an issue.

Streaming video?

 If you have the facility to stream video you have to check that the process of digitisation from the format you copied or recorded the film in - e.g. DVD to mpeg - is permitted and then obtain the usual permissions for copying and RE-USE to make it available. You can of course stream video you have made or have clear permissions to treat in this way.

Is copying 'on-demand' and 'play-it-again' materials onto the VLE OK?

 No. Unless the provider explicitly says you can.


 In all cases provide acknowledgements with the materials as they are uploaded - title, author/creator, source, date - and if required copyright or licence information.

Acceptable Use

 The school's 'Acceptable Use Policy' (AUP) should cover the VLE for pupils, guests, teachers and the schools workforce, and there may well be a separate VLE AUP sign-off. Some VLE services provide information about copyright and uploading resources as part of their training and on-line support.

Who owns the VLE?

 It may be the school, it may be a consortium effort, it may be run by a government agency or an RBC or it may be a subscription service from a commercial supplier. If it's not the school istelf then the school will have signed up to terms and conditions of service which might well include an agreement that the school (the user) accepts responsibility for copyright infringements that occur from material they have uploaded without due permissions.

VLE and other school communications

 Because materials are cleared for use in a VLE doesn't mean they are cleared for everything else. Subscription materials that are OK for VLE use may not be OK for use in an open website or for putting into a DVD. If you ask for permissions to use in-copyright materials you often have to state exactly what use you wish them to be put to. Think ahead in planning if you think the resources may have to go beyond the confines of the VLE.

Bottom line?

It is the school that has to ensure that rights are cleared; though it may be largely teachers who have to implement the policy.