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UK academics take on copyright education challenge

February 13, 2015

By Colin Mann

A new suite of online learning materials has been launched to help UK students and the general public understand how copyright law works.

The resource aims to help A-Level [High School leaving qualification] media students in the UK study for their exams while educating the wider public about what can and cannot be done with copyright works.

In October 2014, former Intellectual Property Adviser to the Prime Minister, MP Mike Weatherly issued a report strongly urging government to find innovative ways ‘to prepare pupils […] for the 21st Century knowledge economy’.

A team of legal researchers from the University of Glasgow CREATe Centre and the University of Bournemouth Centre for Intellectual Property and Policy Management (CIPPM) and Centre for Excellence in Media Practice (CEMP) have united to answer Weatherly’s call, while broadening the meaning of ‘copyright education’ to include uptake and re-use of artistic works. The resource is supported by funding from the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC).

The new educational resource aims to showcase the productive side of copyright law, by offering a practical example of transformative creativity, alongside lessons about incentives, risk and freedom of expression. If, as Weatherly claims, ‘we are all creators now’, then copyright education should proceed from the point of view of creation, not only consumption, illegal or otherwise.

  1. The Adventure of the Girl with the Light Blue Hair is the first episode of The Game is On!, a web series produced by Drawing inspiration from Sherlock Holmes and other well-known copyright and public domain works, the video provides a springboard for exploring key principles and ideas underpinning copyright law, creativity, and the limits of lawful appropriation and reuse. Teachers and students can discuss these topics through the use of supplementary educational materials that accompany the video (Case Files).


  2. Copyright for A Level Media Studies is an educational web resource which addresses the AS/A Level Unit Critical Perspectives in Media, Section B: Contemporary Media Issues. The content is shaped to enable teachers to explain the complexity and importance of copyright in media regulation, and for students to demonstrate their understanding within the Contemporary Media Regulation exam question. In order to gather the different perspectives on copyright law and present a balanced view, a short questionnaire was sent to a broad range of copyright stakeholders. The responses to the questionnaire were used to populate the resource with cutting-edge, real-world issues.


Content for the A-Level Media Studies resource was gathered via consultation with a wide range of experts and organisations, including Hon. Mr Justice Richard Arnold, Sir Robin Jacob, PRS for Music, the Design and Artists Copyright Society (DACS), The British Film Institute as well as author Cory Doctorow and LAB records co-founder Mark Orr.

Lead media producer for, Bartolomeo Meletti said: “The copyright framework is constantly evolving, at both UK and EU levels. Effective copyright education programmes need to offer a set of tools to enable teachers and students to keep up with this evolving landscape. Our educational resources are the result of a balanced and bottom-up approach: they recognize the increasing participation of users and consumers – who are more and more frequently also re-users and creators of media – in the production of knowledge.”

“The recent reforms, particularly in relation to copyright exceptions, call for a greater understanding and awareness of copyright law,” said Dr. Dinusha Mendis, who led production of the A Level Media Studies resource. “To meet this aim, our educational resource uses both textual and motion graphic video content to raise a positive interest in copyright law whilst making the information accessible for teachers and students. We believe that using such tools and a bottom-up methodology has the potential for the educational resource to reach a wider audience and have an impact on copyright education.”

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