The UUK / Guild HE Copyright Working Group: a personal perspective

jane03I was speaking to a colleague recently who was delighted to hear about the increase in the extent limits from 5% to 10% in the Copyright Licensing Agency (CLA) recently revised Licence for the higher education sector and she asked how this had come about. In a rather flippant way I said, ‘I did that’ and she laughed thinking I was joking. And then I thought about it for a moment, and then said ‘no in fact I did do that, through my work on the Universities UK / Guild HE Copyright Working Group. Of course it was not all my work, there is a team of us, and I am just one of the group, but collectively this is something our group did achieve for the higher education sector this year, through our hard work and negotiations over the past three years with the CLA. One of the meetings was with publishers where we strongly argued the case for increasing the extent limits along with a wider ‘wishlist’ of requests from the HE sector. The requests had been gathered during a workshop in July 2015 which was attended by over 40 university copyright officers and I helped to organise.

My colleagues know I disappear about four times a year up to Woburn House where UUK is based and I usually report back that we had a meeting with the CLA or another collecting society – we do also meet the Educational Recording Agency (ERA) and respond to various consultations on copyright matters from the UK Intellectual Property Office (IPO). Most recently I was one of four members of the group who attended a meeting at the IPO about Brexit and the copyright implications for universities. However, in the run up to August this year, when the new CLA Licence was finally launched, the UUK / Guild HE Copyright Working Group meetings became more frequent and I did help with quite a number of pieces of work, such as reviewing the user guidelines for the sector and being on a group reviewing the set up of a new optional service for universities called the Digital Content Store.

A chance comment from my colleague made me realise that it was important to write more about why I am on this group, what we do, and why it’s so important to LSE and the HE sector as a whole. It’s also one of the most rewarding external committees that I am part of, and one that over the years has really tested my abilities to negotiate, stay calm under pressure and deal with people and organisations who sometimes have polar opposite opinions on matters relating to copyright, educational exceptions and licensing for the sector. But it’s also an example of what can be achieved through setting those differences aside and trying to work for the common good.

What is the UUK / Guild HE Copyright Working Group

The CWG was established by the then Committee of Vice Chancellors and Principles and the Standing Committee of Principles (now Universities UK and Guild HE) in anticipation of the Copyright Design and Patents Act 1988. The act provided for the copying of strictly limited extracts of copyright material for teaching purposes. THE CLA developed a licence to permit educational establishments to produce multiple copies under this provision in return for a payment based on the number of full time equivalent students at each higher education institution. Initially, the CWG that negotiated the terms of the licence was chaired by the then Vice Chancellor of York University and subsequently by David a former senior policy advisor at UUK. In the early years of the operation of the licence the production of multiple course packs was not permitted. To do so required separate permission and payment under a transactional arrangement. This and other unsatisfactory aspects of the licence eventually led the group to advise UUK/ Guild HE in 2001 to refer the terms of the licence to the Copyright Tribunal as permitted by the 1988 Act. Its ruling favoured the case of the HE sector and the terms of the licence was modified and greatly improved along with its cost. In 1999 the CWG collaborated with JISC and the CLA in the development of a licence permitting photocopying, scanning and digitisation of copyright material. Further background and the history of the CLA Licence is outlined in a paper by Sol Picciotto.

Why did I join the group?

it was into this world that I was introduced in 2000 when I joined University College London working on developing a trial electronic course pack service as part of the Access to Core Course Materials project. For 18 months I lived and breathed all things related to copyright, digitising course materials (both published and lecturer produced content) and became extremely familiar with the controversy surrounding digitisation and course pack copying. My developing interest and experience in this subject led me in 2002 to move to LSE to manage their fledgling electronic course pack service, provide copyright advice for staff using learning technologies and over the next 6 years I developed this service which went from strength to strength, promoting it to academic staff at LSE until we could barely cope with the demand for it. I became the Chair of the Heron User group in 2002, because of my interest in the field and the use of the Heron services at LSE, to help us scale up our scanned reading service. Heron were offering copyright clearance and digitisation services to the HE sector and I worked with the Technical Manager, George Pitcher to develop what started out as an in-house tool to manage our scanning and clearance services. That tool became Packtracker and it was subsequently launched for use in other universities to help them manage their copyright permissions and scanning. But I remember vividly trying to explain what I wanted a system to do to George and him saying in a matter of fact way to me, I can build you that. It is worth noting that it was in part that tool that has inspired the CLA to develop the Digital Content Store, which was launched this year for the HE sector.

And it was due to my experience of chairing the Heron User Group meeting that David first asked me to attend a UUK Copyright Working Group meeting in 2004. I have a suspicion it was on the recommendation of Charles Oppenheim (at the time a CWG member along with Sol Piccitto and Toby Bainton) whom I knew through LIS-Copyseek events. David was looking for more on the ground experience of the impact of some of the decisions that the new, enhanced blanket scanning licence might have. One of those requirements was full reporting of all the scans undertaken by a university on an annual basis. After attending a meeting I realised fairly quickly that the CWG had not entirely appreciated the administrative burden to which they had committed librarians in the collection of this data. I first attended the pre-meetings held at UUK, where I was conscious not only of the seniority of the rest of the group, but also their expertise in copyright matters. It was an amazing learning experience and I hope I demonstrated in those early days that practical on the ground experience was at least as important as detailed knowledge of copyright law. After one pre-meeting in around 2005 I recall David said to me, ‘I think you need to become a member of the CWG’ and that was when I really felt like I had made it! One of the first things I did was to suggest another academic librarian might join our ranks, and Lyn Parker who was then managing the scanned readings service at the University of Sheffield and a member of the Heron Committee, joined the group. Lyn and I served together on this group for many years until her retirement in 2012 and we were also joined by Linda Purdy from Sheffield Hallam. Steve Bowman was a lively member of the group for several years while working at the Director of Library Services at Ravensbourne College. And in latter years, the late Lawrence Bebbington was an important member of our group, who was always robust in pre-meetings and in negotiations with CLA.

What does the CWG do?

copyright-officers-in-canterburyOur group has two main purposes which is to negotiate blanket licences for the HE sector with organisations such as CLA and ERA and to respond to UK and European consultations on copyright matters on behalf of Universities UK. In these latter activities we often liaise with other groups in the library sector, such as SCONUL and the Libraries and Archives Copyright Alliance (LACA), of which I am also a member, to collaborate on our responses.  When negotiating licences we need to represent a diverse range of universities which are either UUK or Guild HE members (or both). The alternative would be each university would need to negotiate the terms and the price separately and while the deal is seen as high for some institutions, overall through negotiating for the sector as a whole we believe that we get a better deal. Our challenge is to represent the diverse needs of the sector and we are increasingly trying to be more visible as a group and to encourage individuals to get in touch with us with feedback. We periodically ask for feedback and carry out surveys or small pieces of research to understand what universities need or how a licence might be meeting they needs. Our current CWG comprises Chris Morrison, Kate Vasili, Monique Ritchie, Ralph Weedon, David Farley, Sam Roseveare, Neil Sprunt, Ruth Macmillan and Cat Turhan, myself and David. Sol Picciotto and Toby Bainton continue as corresponding members.

Why does it matter to LSE and the sector?

Access to copyright material is essential for teaching, learning and research. Universities couldn’t teach effectively without a CLA Licence if they want to deliver multiple copies of paper or digital copyright resources to students in a timely and cost efficient manner. While we might like to think all readings are now available in electronic format, that simply isn’t the case. There are also times when purchasing an electronic journal title for one article that is needed for one course, is also not cost effective or practical and here the CLA Licence can be used. Over the years we have tried to streamline the process, and cut down on the reporting that needs to be done. The most recent negotiations involved working with CLA over the development of a reporting tool for the sector, called the Digital Content Store, which allows us to share readings and hopefully reduces the burden of administration to HEIs.

As a whole the CLA collect over £14 million from the HE sector, but the vast majority of that money is distributed back to authors, to publishers and to artists and designers to compensate them for the copying that is done of their work. I  encourage academics to sign up to the Authors Licensing Collecting Society (ALCS), which is the way they will receive their share of these payments for the copying of their work. And if they really don’t agree with this model, then it is all the more reason to make their publications available on open access so they can be used freely. My work on the UUK Copyright Working Group means that the needs of LSE are taken into account when licences are negotiated and the members have important role to play working for the sector as a whole. Being on this group has developed my knowledge of copyright matters enormously and allowed me to establish LSE’s reputation for a high quality copyright and digitisation service. We also got to be part of the pilot to test out the CLA’s Digital Content Store. I also have access to a fantastic networks of colleagues, several of whom more recently I recommended were invited to join the group! I appreciate the time LSE gives me to work on this group, and I know that we benefit and are contributing to improving copyright and licensing matters for the education sector as a whole.

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