Today with Digital Technologies we are all Re-users: and re-using other people's copyright materials is where it all gets complicated.


Re-using materials simply means copying them and using them to make, for instance, resources, presentations, movies or just about anything. Re-use has become a greater issue for schools with the advent of on-line working, VLE and on-line services. 

 Probably best if you read this and the next section on Publishing together ... and what applies here to teachers and staff, applies equally to students.



Because you can do it doesn't mean you are allowed to or should do it. Digital technology makes it so easy to copy, transfer and re-use materials it sometimes seems like it must be OK to do it ... but that's not how it works out ... copyright permissions don't transfer from a website to all those you use it - so, be prepared!


 EDUCATION LICENCES: Good News. You'll get used to using materials in school from licensed sources that say you can use them for "education purposes". Bad News. "Education purposes" sometimes means in school only or in school plus the authenticated VLE only and not to the whole world.  Other people's definitions of "education", "curriculum", "learning", "school", etc can be very different from yours.

 PASSING ON: Because someone who runs a website has permission to publish a set of images from, for instance, the collection of someone they've interviewed and then published them doesn't mean you automatically have permsission to publish them or use them somewhere else. You may need to go back to the source and get your own permission. Open Licences allow 'sharing' under specific conditions so, if they are used, you don't have to ask.

 MORAL RIGHTS: In the UK the owner of the copyright is protected from uses of their material that would bring them into disrepute. More on Moral Rights in Section 1 - IPR and Copyright

 MULTIPLE COPYRIGHTS: A lot of the resources we use in school present us with a set of multiple resources - images, text, maps, diagrams, quotations, video, music - all together in the same webpage, book, DVD, etc. Each of these elements can have its own copyright and even a single item like a film can have several copyrights associated with it - screenplay, director, music, etc. A piece of music could have separate copyrights for the lyrics and the composer.  When an author uses someone's photographs for their book, a film-maker uses a piece of recorded music in their film or a web-designer puts some archive video into a webpage these are called third party resources, ones which the creator doesn't have copyright for and has to seek permission and perhaps pay to use.

 PARODY: There is no 'exception' in the UK to permit the use of in-copyright work for parody - along with working in-the-style-of, copying, homages, etc. - even though parody is, and always has been, an effective and necessary means for teaching and learning in many subjects.

 COPYRIGHT OWNERSHIP: It is not always very easy to work out who owns the copyright and therefore who you should ask when you come across something on the Net. Materials can be published by a third party or under licence. Copyright can be transferred by agreement of the creator, through a business deal, by default through a contract between the creator and a company. Copyright can be in dispute or the ownership unknown.


This applies to teachers and pupils.

 FORWARD THINKING: Best to get copyright sorted as you develop the work. Nothing worse than to create something good and find that you can't use it more widely later on - for instance you can't enter a class DVD that was a real achievement in a local festival because you used music without permissions.

 YOU CAN USE materials that you have created, that you have permissions to use, that have an open licence or terms and conditions of use that allow re-use and that are in the public domain.

 RECORD: Keep records of the materials you use - in particular ones you 'prize' or were difficult to track down or that might 'disappear'; so you can a) find them again b) re-check the copyrights if you need more information later on c) provide full acknowlegements and sources

 ACKNOWLEDGE: Acknowledge sources and creators in the work you are putting together.


If you are making something which is going to be openly available to other people, stored on a server for the long-term, on a website or in a VLE use materials which have their copyright cleared for use or which you have obtained the permission to use.



What happens when you put your materials where other people can use them.