For as long as literary and artistic works are protected by copyright, there will always be a duty of teachers to use copyright protected non-licensed works for purposes of teaching their students. This imperative towards society persists in the context of open education: when creating new open educational resources educators are often faced with the need to quote, translate, adapt or otherwise use existing works.
The majority of laws across the European Union do not, however, provide for exceptions and limitations to copyright that support the necessary access and reuse of protected works for educational purposes. The EU legal scenario actually discourages the development and dissemination of OER that make use of protected works: firstly, certain educational uses are not exempted (or might be exempted in face-to-face teaching but not in digital and online contexts); secondly, the differences between the laws prevent the cross-border sharing of OER that use protected works (Nobre 2014).
Reforming the copyright system in order to provide better support for educational freedoms should be part of the discussions around the Politics of Open. In our presentation, we will outline a policy approach that treats OER and copyright reform policies as two means of achieving these freedoms. We will also present the outcomes of an advocacy project aimed at amplifying the voice of education in the ongoing copyright reform debate in the EU, in particular:
a study of modern educational practices, in order to demonstrate the extent to which outdated legal rules limit modern, innovative education. The study is based on existing data and a small set of in-depth interviews with leading teachers and educational experts.
Visual tools that compare the fragmented landscape of education exceptions in different member states of the EU. These tools are based on existing legal data (PPMI 2016 and Seng 2016) and an in-depth legal analysis that assesses the permissibility of certain practices in selected countries.
Copyright exceptions should promote positive learning outcomes in a variety of formal and informal settings, online as well as offline, and across borders. A copyright system that does not offer a proper balance between the rights of copyright owners and the public interests related to education has necessarily a negative impact in the development of OER.
Our goal is to bring together open practitioners and educators to support the message that “copyright needs to empower – and not thwart – the activities of teaching and learning” (COMMUNIA 2016). At the same time we hope to offer a better understanding of the obstacles faced by teachers, help identifying which uses are exempted (namely for producing OER), and facilitate the comparison of education exceptions.
COMMUNIA (2016). Policy Paper #11 on leveraging copyright in support of education.
PPMI Public Policy and Management Institute (2016). Assessment of the impact of the European copyright framework on digitally supported education and training practices.