Body of Knowledge 1: Understanding the Information Environment

Body of Knowledge 1: Understanding the Information Environment

Libraries, Copyright and Higher Education

 To transform culture - empathy, hospitality and trust are required. 

To transform culture - empathy, hospitality and trust are required. 

In February 2017 I gave a presentation about Digital Literacy, copyright and higher education and touched on the challenges of copyright compliance in a large educational institution like AUT.  Writing the presentation allowed me to get an understanding of the agreement that all the universities in Aotearoa have with Copyright Licensing Limited (CLL). 

 Universities in Aotearoa have obligations under an agreement with Copyright Licensing Limited and the Copyright Act 1994.

Universities in Aotearoa have obligations under an agreement with Copyright Licensing Limited and the Copyright Act 1994.

The Universities Pilot License 2015-2016 outlines the conditions and fees for copying print material that is under copyright. It includes making digital copies of the content available to students and staff. For the first time all universities are expected to provide reports electronically. AUT are one of four universities in Aotearoa using the software platform TALIS. In 2018, we will be formally reporting back to about AUT copying. We are spending this year implementing a copyright compliance workflow and ecosystem to support academics copying material for their courses in our learning management system (Blackboard). 

What we found we working with academics in our pilot project is that even with the best of intentions non-compliance happens in large organisations like AUT. The  Copyright Act 1994 is complex and in my opinion out of step with the way we use content in education. 

Hence, the cultural transformation required to get 100% compliance is huge and some would say impossible. But we can manage risk and support our academics to be good digital citizens and role models for our student community. Such a transformation requires a robust model of change management.  I believe two Māori cultural concepts - Manaakitanga and Aroha are essential in any culture change process. Empathy, hospitality and understanding are helping our community to come to grips with why they need to put their readings in to reading lists. Our institutional copyright policy is being reviewed to support this new way of working and give clarity around expectations. That is, what it means to adhere to the Copyright Act. 

We are also building from the ground up a copyright ecosystem that features:

  1. Informed library staff to work directly with Faculty to enable them to understand responsibilities of academics when it comes to copyright compliance 
  2. Training and materials 
  3. Monitoring and compliance reporting
  4. Building a community of practice
  5. Encouraging practice that involves using public domain and open content

Working in the area of copyright compliance requires people who understand copyright and are confident in interpreting the Act. If advice falls outside of our knowledge or expertise, were are fortunate that our legal office can deal with the query.  In most of our universities, libraries play a role in supporting copyright compliance as copyright sits outside the portfolio of university librarians. The exceptions are: Auckland, Lincoln and Waikato. 

Another challenge for libraries is that recruiting knowledgable, confident library professionals to work in this domain is difficult. Knowledge is often acquired on the job and many people are reluctant to work in this area because it can be tricky. However, although challenging those who have chosen this kind of work, relish the challenge and their expertise is sort after.  We are fortunate to have the expertise of Melanie Johnson at University of Auckland, who has been willing to share her experience and expertise and our own Mandy Henk at AUT. I'd encourage others to develop more in-depth knowledge about copyright. 

Our copyright compliance ecosystem requires partnership with other parts of the University. We work closely with our Centre for Learning and Teaching and our corporate governance team. In the Library, we focus on a small area of copyright, that is the copyright that relates to the agreement we have. However, as we work with academics we are discovering that there are gaps in copyright knowledge which is further complicated by the ambivalence there is about copyright in the general public. Therefore, the resources we develop including an app are covering copyright more broadly than the copying we are tracking for CLL. 

Wish us luck! 

This post is part of my work towards LIANZA professional registration where I address the Bodies of Knowledge 

Bulltish blitzkrieg

Bulltish blitzkrieg

Where to from here?

Where to from here?