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Reflections from Policy Debate about copyright and education: How to ensure user rights in education? Copyright reform and Open educational resources

- November 23, 2015 in featured, guestpost, licensing, Open Educational Resources

Reported and written by: Sandra Kucina Softic, M. Sc.; University Computing Centre SRCE, Croatia

The debate ( was held at the European Union on November 17, 2015 and was hosted by Michal Boni, Member of European Parliament (MEP) from Poland. The debate focused in particular on user rights: the freedom of educators and learners to use resources in the process of education.

Introduction to the debate:

Freedom to use educational resources is a fundamental issue in education. It can be ensured either by copyright rules or through sharing of Open Educational Resources (OER). The European Commission communication on the modernisation of copyright rules has defined educational exceptions as an issue that requires action in the European reform planned for 2016. At the same time, recent policy developments once again prove the importance of Open Educational Resources: UNESCO members have just committed to supporting OERs within the Education 2030 Framework for Action. OECD will soon publish a new report on “Open Educational Resources. A Catalyst for Innovation”. The event will focus on the European level of policy making, with the goal of discussing possibilities of strengthening European policies and programs.

Picture1: MEP M. Boni opens the debate on copyright reform and OER

The debate was organized by Centrum Cyfrowe and Communia as the part of the ExplOERer project. On behalf of the organizer the meeting was moderated by A. Tarkowski.

Mr. Alek Tarkowski reported on document Foundations for OER Strategy Development ( which provides concise analysis of where global OER movement currently stands. Intention of this document is to serve as a starting point for conversations about strategies for mainstreaming OER and extending its reach and impact globally.

Speakers at the debate were: Mr Dominic Orr (Consultant, OECD), Ms Teresa Nobre (Legal Lead, Creative Commons, Portugal) and Ms Josie Fraser (social and educational technologist, Leicester City Council, UK). Over 40 people participated at the debate.

In his introduction Mr. Orr gave an overview on the OECD report: Open Educational Resources- a Catalyst for Innovation which will be published on December 1, 2015. In this report highlighted are three key potentials of OER:

  • digital technologies have become ubiquitous in daily life and OER can harness the new possibility to afforded by digital technology to address common educational challenges
  • OER are a catalyst for social innovation, which can facilitate changed forms of interaction between teachers, learners and knowledge
  • OER have an extended lifecycle beyond their original design and purpose. The process of distribution, adaptation and iteration can improve access to high quality, context-appropriate educational materials for all.

Picture 2: Mr. D. Orr presenting OECD report

The report also focuses on the contribution of OER to six educational changes that concern educational systems today:

  • fostering the use of new forms of learning for the 21st century
  • fostering teachers’ professional development and engagement
  • containing public and private costs of education
  • continually improving the quality of educational resources
  • widening the distribution of high quality educational resources
  • reducing barriers to learning opportunities

Ms Teresa Nobre reported on the different national laws of the EU member states regarding the quotations, compilations and derivatives. National laws are often vague and in unclear language, and certain acts are allowed in face to face teaching but not in online context. Quotations are usually for free, but only 16 member states allow quotes of full-sized images. In preparations for teaching teachers often make compilations of learning materials. But some countries don’t allow it for free. At the moment only 12 member states allow teachers to make a non-commercial compilation without payment. Teachers often need to translate materials and want to use them in their work, some countries do allow it but 10 member states do not permit translations for educational purposes.

Picture 3: Ms T. Nobre

Suggestion is to establish single mandatory exception to ensure EU–wide educational uses of copyrighted works. Emphasis should be on limitation of the purposes not users. There is a need for stronger harmonization between member states. Possible solution is Digital Single Market ( in which the free movement of persons, services and capital is ensured and where the individuals and businesses can seamlessly access and exercise online activities under conditions of fair competition, and a high level of consumer and personal data protection, irrespective of their nationality or place of residence. The Digital Single Market strategy ( has been adopted in May 2015 and aims to open up digital opportunities for people and business and enhance Europe’s position as a world leader in the digital economy.

Ms. J. Fraser stressed was that teachers create amazing resources but they need training not only in technologies but also in methodologies and abilities to integrate technology into the educational process. Also there is an increasing trend towards making educational contents and resources freely available. Still lots of issues have not been settled, especially copyright issues. Academic staff is often not aware of open licensing and Creative Commons. Although the academic staff have a good experience with CC, it doesn’t solve all the problems. Copyright issues is still present and need to be regulated.

Supporting Schools to use OERs

- October 24, 2014 in communication, featured, licensing, oer, project

josieAt the Open Education Working Group there is often reflection that there are great things happening in the open education world but many of these don’t transpose to educational spaces, such as schools.

Josie Fraser from the DigiLit Leicester initiative has an exciting announcement about how Leicester Council is bringing together OERs and teachers to enable Open Educational Practices.


Open Educational Resources (OER) are learning materials (including presentations, revision guides, lesson plans) that have been released under an open licence, so that anyone can use, share and build on them for free. Many openly licensed resources are available for schools to use and develop. At a time when schools increasingly work with, and rely on, digital and web based materials, understanding how copyright works, and making the most of available resources, is essential for staff and schools.


Creating OER allows schools to connect and collaborate with others through sharing work. Sharing can also help promote the great work that school staff and schools are doing.

The DigiLit Leicester initiative, designed to support schools in making the most of the city’s current investment in technology, identified a gap in support and information for school staff relating to the use and creation of OER. In response to this, Leicester City Council is releasing a range of resources to help schools in the city and beyond get the most out of open licensing. Guidance for schools has been produced, along with a range of practical resources, to support school staff in understanding, finding, and creating OER. The resource pack is itself is released under an open licence, and can be downloaded from


Editable versions suitable for adaptation are also available for download.

The resources being that have been released are:

  • School Permission & Policy docs: 1. Formal notification of permission from LCC to city community and voluntary controlled schools 2. Guidance notes for schools on the permission 3. Model school policy (based on the Albany Senior policy) for schools with Local Authority permission 4. Model school policy (same) for schools where the governing body is the employer
  • Guidance docs: On ‘What are Open Educational Resources?’; ‘Understanding Open Licensing’; ‘Finding and Remixing Openly Licensed Resources’; ‘Openly Licensing and Sharing your Resources’
  • Supporting Docs: S1-6 – 6 documents designed to support staff in delivering workshops, or providing walkthroughs relating to finding, using and attributing CC Licenced materials, plus an extensive list of annotated resources and related materials
  • Additional materials: A pack of existing openly licenced resources that are either referenced in the guidance or in activities in the supporting documents, that we are providing on a standalone basis to make life easier for school staff

All of the materials build upon existing openly licenced works and are themselves released under a CC-BY licence, and provided in editable doc formats as well as PDF.

Leicester City Council has also given permission to the 84 community and voluntary controlled schools across the city to create and share Open Educational Resources (OER), by releasing the learning materials they create under an open licence. By default, the rights of work created in the line of employment are assigned to the employer, unless a specific agreement has been made. This permission makes sharing resources simpler for everyone, and provides additional opportunities for schools and school staff.

Josie Fraser, ICT Strategy Lead (Children’s Capital) at Leicester City Council, said:

Many free, Openly Educational Resources – OER – already exist. Schools can’t make use of them if they aren’t aware of OER and don’t know how to find them. We are creating practical information and guidance for schools (which is released under an open licence) and providing community and voluntary controlled schools across the city with the freedom to openly license their own work. This supports Leicester schools to promote what they are achieving, and also to connect to, and collaborate with, other schools, and to make educational resources accessible to learners everywhere.

Dr Björn Haßler (University of Cambridge), said:

Leicester City Council is the first local authority in the UK to provide its school employees with permission to openly license their resources. This is a highly commendable and visionary step. We very much hope that this will inspire other councils and schools to look at how they can also support staff in sharing their work.

The Council is also encouraging voluntary aided schools, foundation schools and academies across the city to review their own approach to digital resources, and to see how they can make the most of open licensing. At these schools, the governing body is usually the employer. All schools in the city have been provided with information about the permission, and the Council has produced model policies to discuss, adopt and adapt. Further information about the permission and model policies can also be downloaded from


OER Guidance for Schools was released on 23 October 2014. It was commissioned by Leicester City Council, as part of the Council’s award winning digital literacy school staff development project, DigiLit Leicester.

The Guidance is produced by Björn Haßler, Helen Neo, and Josie Fraser, and is available under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 licence.

For further information please contact Josie Fraser ( or Björn Haßler (