Copy right!

Tuesday 10th July saw the official launch of, created by the Copyright and Schools working group. This group is made up of representatives from the 12 licensing bodies which between them oversee 14 different licences.


The launch was addressed by the CEO of the Copyright Licensing Agency, Kevin Fitzgerald, Richard Hooper CBE  of the Intellectual Property Office (IPO, trading name of the Patent Office) and Baroness Wilcox, Parliamentary Undersecretary of State at the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills.


The website provides an excellent first stop for schools that have a question about copyright, covering when and why you need a licence and where you can go to get it. The landing page has a graphic of a teacher beside an interactive whiteboard, saying "In my school, I want to..." and once you have clicked the start button, you are presented with 8 options, for example "Make copies of digital resources" and "Watch all or part of a film".


Depending on your choice, you are presented with a brief information summary along with links to the appropriate licence provider(s). There are various blanket licensing schemes that hugely simplify matters by removing the need to request permission every time a copyright work is used. For example, regarding collective worship in schools the site points you towards the Collective Worship Music Reproduction Licence (CWMRL)".


The site clearly flags up where special concessions exist for education, such as "The free Newspapers for Schools Licence gives you the right to copy Cuttings from newspaper websites for teaching purposes and send or receive links to Cuttings by email." 


The digital age has thrown up many challenges as content is so easy to copy, amend and re-publish and there is so much that we might choose to use it for. One clear benefit of taking a responsible line is that it gives us another lever to try and encourage learners away from being relatively passive consumers of digital media and towards creating more of their own content - when they become the copyright holders and can use the material as they wish.


Baroness Wilcox clearly felt that the new website was a valuable first step, but there was more work to be done to develop a system truly fit for the digital age. One possible outcome might be a digital copyright exchange, a single online site where different licences can be acquired quickly and easily, as needs arise. This will be an area worth keeping an eye on over the next few years.