Managing the risk of infringing copyright


Key questions for managing risk:

Do I have permission to download these materials, images, films, music, etc.? User:

 Re-User: Do I have permission to re-use the materials I have found?

 Distributor: Do I have permission to send these materials to other people?

 Creator: Have I made it clear how I expect other people to use my work? Have I cleared the permissions for any third-party materials I have used.

Some things that will increase the risks for a school are:

Who are you making material available to and where are they receiving it?

Individual use for learning and teaching is covered to some extent by fair dealing, the education exceptions and the blanket education licences. However the risk of infringement increases as you move to storing materials on servers available for others to use, storing over the long-term, making multiple copies and publishing material for others to use.

In schematic terms the risk could be present at any point along this axis:

  1. individual use
  2. class group
  3. the school through its intranet or network,
  4. school community through its VLE
  5. Wide Area Network (WAN) such as an LA network, RBC or national   education network such as Glow or C2Kni.
  6. WWW

While the risk increases exponentially with the move into the public sphere of the WWW it should not be assumed that sharing copyright materials without permissions is simply OK within authenticated environments such as the school intranet or VLE and schools should be careful about what materials are stored on their networks .

An axis of risk

There is a general sense that the further you move into the public sphere in publishing resources the more at risk you may become if you use other people's materials without due permissions. However, it would be more accurate to say that each ‘location’ requires you to ask the risk question again and come up with an answer for each of the situations you are working with.  The axis line runs ...

 It also matters what you are doing; and with what material and to which audience!

Some things that might mitigate the risks for a school are:

Risk for creators

Risk isn’t all about infringement of other people’s copyright; it is also about protecting the school’s, pupils’ and teachers’ work.

Risk is increased if:


 Disclaimers are statements that you often see on websites along the lines of “We have tried to obtain permissions for this material etc, etc,  ...” .  Disclaimers should mitigate the situation but aren’t a legal instrument or a failsafe defence.

 As part of a school process of good practice in publishing resources, requiring the workforce to insert a Disclaimer may be a useful tool to remind those creating resources of the need for 'due diligence'

Notice and Takedown

 Notice and Takedown policies are used by websites and online services to provide a procedure for someone to claim misuse of materials by providing their proof of ownership and their contact details in return for a promise from the 'offending' website owner to remove them.

The IPR Toolkit suggest this form of words for a Take Down Notice:

 Inthe event that you are the owner of the copyright in any of the material on this website and do not consent to the use of your material in accordance with the terms of conditions of use of this website, please contact us [INSERT: your contact details here/or a link to contact details] and we will withdraw your material from our website forthwith on receipt of your contact details, written objection and proof of ownership.” 

 Download from source: IPR Toolkit 2.2 IPR Risk Assessments. (IPR Toolkit ref: Page 42 Section 2 'Practical Tools'.)


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