Why Australian Schools Need Fair Use

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Australia on getting a better copyright for education
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It is Fair Use week, and we have a special guest author sharing about a copyright debate that is considering implementing Fair Use: Delia Browne is National Copyright Director of the Australian National Copyright Unit (Schools and TAFEs). Australia is in the process of re-evaluating its copyright law, including the rules regarding education. The Australian reform offers interesting parallels with the actions in the European Union. We can only wish that a debate on flexible copyright norm was taking place also in Europe.

Like almost all nations, education is crucial to the future economic and social well-being of Australia. These are exciting times for education, but the benefits of the digital era will not be fully realised in our classrooms unless greater flexibility is introduced into our copyright laws. The rules around copyright were designed in the age of the photocopier; these are not working in the age of the iPad and the 3D printer, and are holding back innovation in schools.

The current system isn’t working

Copyright reform is a significant issue for Australian schools, as Australia’s outdated copyright laws currently stand in the way of teachers using the most modern teaching methods in the interests of Australian students. For example:

  • The copyright rules are different for printed materials and digital teaching methods: current regulations stop teachers from using copyrighted material in online exams because the law says that exceptions to copyright for education apply to hard copy exams only.  Similarly, teachers can write a quote from a book on a blackboard with chalk for free, but a licence fee applies when teachers write the same quote on an interactive whiteboard.
  • The educational statutory licences penalise Australian schools for using digital technologies, as giving students access to content using digital technology can be up to four times more expensive than hard copy technologies. For example, printing a hard copy to hand out in class is one remunerable activity; providing the same information in digital form can involve as many as four remunerable activities.
  • Modern teaching and learning methods such as MOOCs are transforming the way that education is delivered, but Australian copyright laws limit the ways that schools can take part in this. The Copyright Act does not permit these types of activities. By definition, MOOCs are open; i.e. MOOC courses are not confined to students enrolled at a particular educational institution. Neither the statutory licence, nor the research and study fair dealing exception, usually apply when content is shared with people outside the school.  
  • Schools pay millions of dollars of public funds to use freely available internet materials in the classroom. For the most part, the authors of these materials never wished or expected to be paid for these materials (like head lice fact sheets), or works where no copyright owner can be found.
  • Government policy and community expectations require schools to take an increasing role in STEM education, industry collaboration, and equipping students with the digital skills they need to be successful in the workforce of the future. Australia’s copyright laws are hampering this. None of the existing copyright exceptions of statutory licences allows schools to use small amounts of copyrighted material when engaging in collaborative projects with the broader community, business, and industry.
  • Critically, the absence of appropriate copyright exceptions makes it difficult or impossible for teachers to assist students with disabilities, such as making format-appropriate copies of resources for vision- or hearing-impaired students.  

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Culture and Education Committee does not fight for a copyright that supports education

Cure of Folly (Extraction of the Stone of Madness)
Nothing traditional about remunerating exceptions for education
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Last week we started discussing the the draft opinion of the Culture and Education Committee of the European Parliament, presented by rapporteur Marc Joulaud. While he rightly points out how unbalanced the proposal is as it ignores many of the most pressing concerns of internet users, he does not help the discussions surrounding the ‘press publishers right’ by introducing a murky non-commercial clause. Today we discuss his amendments for education. In short: it does not spell good news for educational stakeholders. In a move that on the surface aims to provide greater clarity, Joulaud pushes for even stronger reliance on licensing for educational uses. Furthermore, he proposes to make remuneration for digital teaching uses mandatory. We opposed both these changes from the very beginning of the discussion on the scope of the copyright reform.

It is worth noting that the issue of exceptions (in particular for education) has not received as much attention as the link tax (art 11) or the content filter (art 13) in the whole debate on the proposed directive. Yet it is crucial from the viewpoint of a Committee that deals with education, and Joulaud rightly sees it as one of four key issues.

Joulaud, in the justification to the opinion, and in an opinion piece published by the Parliament Magazine, declares support for a balanced approach:

If the protection of intellectual property is a fundamental right, it should not be a disproportionate obstacle to the use of works for public interest.

He adds:

[…] for instance by threatening existing and perfectly viable ecosystems, like commercial licenses for data mining or educational licensing schemes.

This is reasonable as a general statement, but we’ll see that it leads Joulaud to propose amendments that are hardly balanced.

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Clear statement from educational sector: we need a better copyright reform

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We need to fix copyright for education
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Yesterday COMMUNIA sent a joint letter to MEPs working on the copyright reform dossier. It is supported by 34 organisations and 17 individuals, all advocates of quality education. In the letter we note our concerns on the phrasing of a new education exception to copyright, as included in the proposal for a directive on copyright in the Digital Single Market.

You can find the full letter, including signatories here. 

We believe that educators should be provided with the autonomy necessary for them to give the best possible learning opportunities for students, and that students and other learners should have the freedom required for effective independent learning. The choice of resources that an educator uses should only be dependent on the need they see in their students. The current proposal from the European Commission does not meet these requirements. There however changes possible to the proposed directive that will create a copyright that supports education.

We have shared three concrete recommendations:

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The Delhi University case: equity in education more important than copyrights

Xerox Stand in Mumbai
"Copyright is not a divine or natural right"
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As the copyright reform process continues in Europe, it is worth noting the result of an Indian case concerning photocopying and the extent of the educational exception. In 2012, Delhi University and a small photocopy shop named Rameshwari Photocopy Service were sued by Oxford and Cambridge University Presses together with the Taylor & Francis Group. The publishers alleged that the photocopying of substantial excerpts from their publications and issuing or selling them in course packs infringed their copyrights. They also argued that Delhi University should obtain a license from the Indian Reprographic Rights Organization in order to make the copies.

Publishers lost both the initial court case and the appeal. In what can be seen as a landmark case, the court provided an expansive interpretation of the Indian educational copyright exception. It highlighted issues of educational equity as a central feature of the decision. The Delhi University case is worth considering as we debate copyright and education in Europe. In the ongoing reform, we should focus our efforts on advocating for what a well-functioning education ecosystem requires to promote successful teaching and learning, and less on protecting publishers’ licensing solutions.Continue reading

Call for Signatories: A Better Copyright Reform for Education

Johan de Witt 's nachts op straat aangevallen
Support our Letter to MEPs
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Update February 7th 2017: We have now closed our call for signatories and have updated the supporting organisations and individuals list in the post below. Thanks again for the big support for this call for a better copyright reform for education. 

COMMUNIA, together with other advocates of quality education in Europe, has developed a letter to members of the European Parliament. In the letter we express our concerns that the proposed directive on copyright in the Digital Single Market will make things worse for education. We make recommendations that would help copyright transform into copyright fit for modern, quality, and inclusive education and ask for amendments in line with these recommendations. Please read the full letter here.

Help us in supporting a better copyright for education

We want to gather wide support, so that we can impact the current copyright proposal. If you personally or your organisation wants to sign the letter, contact Lisette Kalshoven (lk@kl.nl). We accept additional signatories until February 6th 12:00 CET. We thank you for your support.

Right now the letter is supported by the following organisations: Continue reading

Ansip is forgetting about important parts of education

Bible Reading
Leaving important educational players behind
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On his blog just before Christmas, Vice President Ansip made a case for a simple copyright law for education to help Europe’s teachers and students. While we can only support a simple copyright law that supports education instead of making it harder for educators to teach, the Commission did not propose such a solution in the directive. The Commission has limited the new exception to official ‘educational establishments’ and has written a preference for licenses over the exception in the text. By doing so they are leaving important parts of education behind.

Leaving important players behind

Ansip writes about the important transition from solely physical education to embracing digital technologies. In the process, the patchwork of exceptions to copyright for educational purposes across Europe blocks much innovation in education:

Unfortunately, there are many differences around Europe in how these exceptions are applied, especially when it comes to using copyright-protected material in digital or online teaching activities.

Digital technologies are transforming the teaching and learning environment. They are being used more and more throughout education: laptops in the classroom to show video clips, interactive whiteboards to display webpages, for example.

But current EU law does not properly address digital’s significant presence and influence in the learning environment. It needs to catch up.

This makes it strange that the Commission’s definition of ‘learning environment’ is so limited to official educational establishments in the proposed directive. Education is understood today as a lifelong process that is conducted by a multitude of institutions, and even learners themselves. This was noted in the Commission Communication ”Making a European Area of Lifelong Learning a Reality” and the subsequent Council Resolution of 27 June 2002 on lifelong learning. Yet, when defining copyright law, the European Commission fails to embrace its own lifelong learning approach by limiting the potential beneficiaries of the proposed exception to ‘educational establishments’. 

In doing so, the proposed exception will leave unharmonised the digital uses for educational purposes made by other individuals and organisations, such as the great value that museums, libraries, archives, professional associations, and civil society organisations give to education. Think for example of education about the dangers of drugs that civil society organisations provide for teenagers, or the great educational programmes of libraries that help Europeans embrace their local culture. This limitation would also exclude employees, apprenticeships and practical learning as vocational education at their company, which is a key part of Europe’s lifelong learning goal.

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Join us in the fight for good copyright for education

Johan de Witt 's nachts op straat aangevallen
Copyright should facilitate education
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COMMUNIA organised the first meeting of our new project ‘Copyright for Education’ at the beginning of December. We invited over a dozen stakeholders and experts from the education field, from organisations such as Wikimedia Deutschland and the Reading and Writing foundation. One of the essential questions of the meeting was how can we collaborate for a better copyright for education. We want the broad education sector to have a voice in the current copyright reform.

The transformation of education

Participants in our meeting discussed how technological developments have opened a lot of new opportunities for educators. It has become easier to share and collaborate with one another, even when you are miles apart – as proven by the European eTwinning project. Many organisations and schools are already working on transforming education in the digital age. They are adapting the mindset of Erasmus, the European exchange program that enables EU students to study abroad, to the way they share, teach and collaborate.

Yet copyright does not adapt quickly enough to keep up. Everyone at our workshop was able to share concrete examples of copyright problems in education from their own experience. For example, for many teachers it is unclear if and how they can share material as simple as a poem. They do not always know if they can link it in an email sent directly to their students or should put the link in the closed network of the school. We cannot simply attribute this to a lack of knowledge on copyright. Copyright should be clear and consistent, so that you do not have to be a copyright expert alongside being a teacher.Continue reading

Cultural Heritage Institutions: Commission’s Copyright Proposal fails to address our needs

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Unlock Europe's cultural heritage now!
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Last week a number of Europeana organisations representing libraries and other cultural heritage organizations released a joint response to the Commission’s copyright proposals. The paper, issued by LIBER, EBLIDA, IFLA, Public Libraries 2020 and Europeana, deals with those elements of the EU copyright framework that are directly relevant to cultural heritage institutions.

This includes four issues addressed in the Commission’s Proposal for a Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market (the exceptions for Text and Data Mining, Education, and Preservation copies, and the measures aimed at improving access to out-of-commerce works), and a number of issues that the Commission’s proposal fails to address, such as on-site access to collections and online document supply.

Exceptions are too narrow

The paper underlines that from the perspective of cultural heritage institutions, EU copyright reform needs to focus on updating and harmonizing copyright exceptions:

We believe that overall welfare is best served by a robust and mandatory set of copyright exceptions which facilitate access to knowledge.

Given this general approach it is not surprising the cultural heritage institutions share many of the same concerns we raised in our analysis of the Commission’s proposal. Continue reading

Commission’s proposal on education: the devil is in the details

Painters’ academy,
Education deserves a better copyright reform
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Today we are publishing the first in a series of position papers dealing with the various parts of the European Commission’s proposal for a Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market. Today’s paper deals with the Commission’s proposal to introduce a mandatory exception that would allow a limited number of beneficiaries to use works and other subject-matter “in digital and cross-border teaching activities” (you can download a pdf version of the paper here). From our perspective the proposal, while well intended, is a missed opportunity to provide the robust education exception that educators, students and everyone else engaging in educational activities, both online and offline, needs. For this reason the paper argues for the introduction of a mandatory exception for educational purposes that does not primarily focus on the type of person or institution doing the teaching, but rather on the educational purpose of the use, and that cannot be excluded by Member States if licensed content is available.

Position paper: Better Copyright Reform for Education

Exceptions and limitations to copyright for education should support necessary access and re-use of copyrighted content of all types in a variety of education settings, locally and across borders. Copyright needs to be reshaped to be fit for modern education—which spans the lives of learners, and takes place in a variety of formal and informal settings, online as well as off. In this context, exceptions and limitations should promote positive learning outcomes, and the rights of copyright owners should be balanced with the public interest. We also need to reduce legal uncertainty faced by educators that use copyrighted content.

What is proposed in the directive?

In the Proposal for a Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market, the European Commission proposes to introduce a mandatory exception or limitation to copyright for educational purposes. The exception only covers the acts of reproduction, communication to the public, and making available to the public of protected works and other subject matter made in the context of a digital use. The digital uses have to be made for the sole purpose of illustration for teaching. Recital 16 clarifies that all digital uses that “support, enrich or complement the teaching, including the related learning activities” are covered.

The exception is intended solely for activities “carried out under the responsibility of educational establishments”. The uses allowed must (1) take place on the premises of the establishment or (2) through the establishment’s secure electronic network, accessible only by its teachers and learners. The concept of educational establishment is not defined, but Recital 15 states that “all educational establishments in primary, secondary, vocational and higher education to the extent they pursue their educational activity for a non-commercial purpose” are covered. The noncommercial nature of the activity is a condition of the use, however “[t]he organisational structure and the means of funding of an educational establishment are not the decisive factors” to assess that. Continue reading

Communia at WIPO: copyright needs to empower teaching and learning

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Fixing copyright at WIPO
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The bi-annual meeting of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights (SCCR) took place last week in Geneva. Teresa Nobre and Alek Tarkowski participated in the meeting on behalf of Communia, which has observer status. We were particularly interested in the debate on exceptions for education.

As Communia, we have until now focused our policy work on the European Union (albeit we were present at WIPO, as observers, briefly for debates on the public domain in 2012). We decided to start attending SCCR meetings in order to address the issue of good copyright for education also at global level. We hope that we can contribute to set out a global education exception.

In Geneva, we joined a broad coalition of civil society organizations and groups, and representatives of public interest institutions such as libraries or archives that have been participating in these meetings. Our particular focus is on education, an issue that until now has not been strongly represented by civil society observers at WIPO. We are hoping to change this situation. Delia Browne, who represented Creative Commons as a representative of Creative Commons Australia, joined us at the meeting.

The issue of exceptions and limitations to copyright has been on the WIPO agenda for years. In 2013, the Marrakesh Treaty was signed, requiring all WIPO members to provide a domestic copyright exception that allows the creation of accessible versions of books and other copyrighted works for visually impaired persons. The exception secured by the treaty is an important win, and a clear evidence that a global copyright standard that supports public interest can be established through the WIPO process.Continue reading