Copyright Futures

There is a continuing debate about copyright in the digital age.

copyright questionThe question is how to balance the rights of the creator with those of the public to ensure the spread of knowledge and growth of the economy for the benefit of all and provide reasonable opportunity for the owner to benefit. Some people think that the trends over the past fifty years of durations and harmonization have titled the balance towards the copyright owner. Others think that the advent of the internet has enabled copyright infringement to run unchecked. Some people think that the digital age has simply superceded the 'copyright' age and something completely different is required.

Proposed solutions fall into several categories:

 keep the structure of ‘copyright’ as it is but develop aspects such as ‘copyright infringement’, ‘format shifting’ and ‘education exceptions’

 take major steps to re-structure ‘copyright’ in keeping with the new technological environment

 do away with ‘copyright’ regulation BUT use other areas of law to challenge infringements and protect copyright creators and owners -  commercial and/or moral safeguards

Continuing change

 Copyright will develop in the coming years driven by:

  • changing technologies and the human responses they engender
  • desire for free speech and freedom of association within a global communications network
  • a desire for privacy, security and individual safety
  • the power of political decision making
  • the need and demands of business and the economy

 It is to be hoped that the needs of learners and teachers to exploit digital technologies to inform, investigate, collaborate and share between schools around the world as part of the learning process will be recognised and become simpler to manage.


The NEN View of Copyright

 Digital technologies have had a profound impact on learning and teaching in schools and today pupils and teachers are not only ‘consumers’ of copyright materials but also 're-users', 'distributors' and 'creators' of them. The NEN believes that it is important that the needs of students, pupils, teachers and school communities to work together, share materials and collaborate - in their own communities and online to other parts of  the UK and to other countries - is not impeeded by the impenetrable thickets of current regulation and practice or the unreasonable risks of copyright infringement, but rather supported by a newly defined 'education use' framework for the UK that would promote innovation and creativity, respect for the work of others, develop knowledge and research and, as the learners of today are the employees and employers of the future, support economic growth.

 The 'Exceptions' currently available to schools through the CPDA need to be extended to encompass all media and extended to cover shared learning and the interactive practice between teacher and classes, at least within school locations - virtual and physical - and with the home. This would simplify the situation for all concerned, encourage engagement with copyright and intellectual property and provide an ethical basis from which schools can effectively fufill their 21st century curriculum aspirations as well as teaching how copyright works for the creator, the consumer and the re-user for the home, leisure, work and in the wider public sphere.

 The NEN has responded to national consultations in the UK about the development of Intellectual Property and Copyright since the Gowers Review of 2006. Read the NEN Response to the Hargreaves Review of 2011.


Future of Copyright

 The British Library sets out it’s 'Perspectives on Intellectual Property' in short downloddable documents which support discussion of the issues well. It deals with ‘knowledge and research’, ‘orphan works’ and 'education’. See British Library Perspective on Intellectual Property

 In the 'Adelphi Charter' the Royal Society sets out a challenging view of what the whole spectrum of IPR could be in the 21st century including global aspects such as 'development'. See RSA Adelphi Charter  (it's a pdf)