The Implications of Intellectual Property Rights and Copyright for the Development and use of Resources (Case Studies)

Copyright and intellectual property rights is an important aspect within my area of expertise, it is something that I am passionate about as a software developer, having my work pirated is extremely frustrating and being able to educate from personal experience is very effective, for example, when I hear a student discussing software they have pirated, it is very easy to confront them and get them to think about the person who wrote the software. Other areas where I am affected by copyright is when providing sample code, I always ensure I write all the sample code myself or that it is available open source to ensure I am not breaching anyone’s copyright.

An unusual aspect that would not affect the majority of lecturers is checking to ensure that students work doesn’t contain copyrighted material, this goes beyond typical plagiarism checks but also that they have not utilised copyrighted material within their projects, for example, imagery, videos and sections of code. This is also closely related to specific unit outcomes, such as understanding business requirements in terms of IPR and copyright, to meet this outcome students must complete a report on how their project has been affected by intellectual property rights and copyright law.

I photocopied 3 chapters of a 6-chapter book from the library for 24 students

By photocopying 3 out of the 6 chapters, 50% of the book has been copied, far greater than the 5% or one chapter that CLA licence allows, as a result the copyright of the book has been infringed (piracy) which may result in a criminal conviction and severe fine with a maximum incarceration of 6 months and a £50,000 fine in the UK. Punishment of copyright infringement varies across countries and on a case-by-case basis; for example, the maximum fine in the US is $150,000. In this situation I will include the book as part of a reading list, stressing how important the 3 chapters are and that students should acquire the book, explaining that it is available from the library.

I made a Google Slides Presentation and it has loads of Getty images in it

If you have not paid Getty for the image license, you do not have permission to use it; as a result, you are infringing the copyright. While the criminal convictions remain the same, it is common for Getty to take civil action against those that infringe their copyright, seeking damages often resulting in legal cases amounting to hundreds of thousands of dollars. Getty are well known for their legal practices relating to the protection of their copyright, often referred to as extortion letters, demanding large sums to prevent legal action. To avoid this, it is important to use images that you are the copyright holder or are available under the creative commons license that enables the free distribution of the work.

I have given 4 James Brown audio samples to my Music tech students for them to use in a remix track

Without permission from the copyright holder, you are infringing copyright law as you are distributing and storing audio in a way you do not have permission to do so. The legal and civil proceedings are the same as above. The music industry features some of the highest sums in legal battles, for example, Ed Sheeran being sued for his song Thinking Out Loud allegedly including melody, rhythms, harmonies, drums, bass line, backing chorus, tempo, syncopation and looping similarities from Marvin Gaye’s Let’s Get It On. Besides the legal aspects, using these audio samples will set an extremely bad example to students. Students will believe copyright infringement is acceptable, due to the very obvious copyright infringement in this instance, possibly resulting in the student being prosecuted for copyright infringement in the future. In the event of any legal action, it is likely the employer will be targeted rather than the employee due to greater funds being available, as a result it is likely the employer will take disciplinary action against the employee, possibly resulting in employment being terminated. To avoid infringing copyright in this instance, the best method would be to create samples specifically for the purpose of teaching, which will be owned by the employer it avoids potential legal action; however, it is likely this will not be appreciated by students in the same way. Another alternative would be to ask for permission from the copyright holder, however, this is unlikely to yield results.

I have created a whole load of teaching resources over the last 10 years. I am taking them with me when I go to my new job

When creating any resource while employed by an employer, it is the employer that owns the copyright for the resource. As you do not own the copyright you are not able to take resources with you when you leave for a new employer. It is possible an employer will give permission for you to utilise the resources with a new employer, however, it is at their discretion and is unlikely to be approved. This doesn’t apply to those that are self-employed but it will normally be included in the contract between the employer and self-employed.

Author Profile

James Barron
My first experience of teaching was in 2016, when I was asked to
deliver a talk to a group of 16-year-olds on what it was like to start
your own business. I immediately knew I wanted to become more
involved in teaching but I didn’t know where to start as I had not
previously considered a career in education. A few weeks later I
agreed to teach a class of Chinese students from the Shanghai
Technical Institute of Electronics and Information, who had travelled
to the UK to learn English and Software Engineering, after that I was
hooked. Within the next few years, I taught hundreds of students of
many different nationalities, aged from 16 to 60, and from
levels 2 to 6. I focused my time teaching with Bath University and
Bath College for several more years until I felt a change was in order.
For the last few years, I have taught remotely with several private
training organisations, provided dedicated one to one coaching
sessions, provided consultancy on teaching and assessment practices
and written about my experiences as a teacher. I plan to continue
with my current activities for the foreseeable future but I’m always
open to new teaching experiences.

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