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The Education exception and past PhD theses

Chris JHolland23 April 2019

A recent enquiry concerned the use of a past thesis in a writing workshop where students of a specific course would have the opportunity to examine and also to critique the writing style of that thesis, which would be studied as a relevant example. The question was whether it would be acceptable to copy the thesis in its entirety for the purpose of the workshop.

It seems very likely that this re-use of a thesis would be “fair dealing” in terms of the education (or “illustration for instruction”) exception which can be found in Section 32 of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 (CDPA). Naturally this would only be “fair dealing” to the extent that the copies were used strictly for the task in hand and not for any additional purpose beyond the scope of Section 32. The context also needs to be “non-commercial” so something like  a fee-charging CPD course would probably not be covered.

In addition Section 32 does not specify that the work must have been  “…made available to the public” as does the exception for criticism, review, quotation and news reporting (Section 30, CDPA) for example. So that question does not arise in relation to the thesis.

EU Copyright Directive published today

Chris JHolland14 September 2016

The long awaited EU Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market (COM(2016) 593 final) has just been published. At this point it is just a “proposal” and will need to complete the EU legislative process. In addition, as a “Directive” it will not have immediate effect in the member states when it has become law. It needs to be implemented in each EU member state and there may be variations in the way it is eventually implemented, although the provisions are mandatory, not optional like most of the current EU copyright exceptions.  It includes some positive features offering modest improvements. The negatives will be covered in a follow-up post:

  • Text and Data Mining exception (Art.3). Currently the UK is the only EU members which has a TDM exception.
  • Education exception (Art.4) covering the use of digital material for teaching. This complements the existing exception and covers providing digital material in a secure environment such as a VLE. It covers distance learning and cross border delivery within the EU.
  • A broader Preservation exception than we currently enjoy in the UK (Art. 5) for cultural heritage organisations which looks as though it might cover collaborative and cross border preservation schemes.
  • Framework for applying Extended Collective Licensing (Art. 7) to out-of-commerce works (the UK already has this – it is a weaker solution than providing a new exception, depending as it does on the willingness of rightsholders and collective management organisations).

Perhaps the most positive aspect is that these new exceptions (being mandatory) will apply to all EU member states and will apply to cross-border activities within the EU. [Part 2 on the less positive aspects of the Directive to follow]

Film Clubs

Chris JHolland1 August 2014

Once in a while a group of UCL students and/ or staff suggests starting a film club. Films could be shown on the premises, free of charge to people who choose to join the club, perhaps films with a departmental interest or popular feature films.

Great idea, but first there are the copyright and licensing hurdles. Among the acts restricted by copyright is the performance of works, including film, without permission of the copyright owners.

There is an exception for showing film for “the purposes of instruction” in Section 34 of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988. This would not cover showing a film for entertainment or any other purpose outside the teaching context. It is clear that a film club would not be covered.

There is a licensing solution, the Public Video Screening Licence (PVSL) from Filmbank . As cost is based on numbers of people “with access to the licensed premises”, it would not be practical to obtain a UCL wide licence, but individual departments could and sometimes do apply. Filmbank can also licence one-off showings. You may also need a licence from PRS to cover playing the musical soundtracks.

The repertoire licensed by Filmbank covers a range of major film studios, listed on their web site. Many well known feature films would be covered. If your interests are more specialised Filmbank may not be very relevant. If the films are outside the repertoire you will be infringing copyright  even armed with your Filmbank licence. It may come down to seeking permission for each film.

A Different Educational Exception

Chris JHolland16 July 2014

Having blogged about the fair dealing exception for copying for the purposes of instruction (updated Section 32 of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988), it may seem confusing to introduce yet another exception for “Copying of extracts by educational establishments”, but there it is, the revised CDPA, Section 36. The distinctive features are:

  • No fair dealing test, defined limits instead, namely a maximum of 5% of a given work in any 12 months period for each institution.
  • Must be for instruction “for a non-commercial purpose”
  • Can only be used when there is no licence available to cover our use of the work in question.

Particular advantages:

  • We are explicitly permitted to upload the extracts onto a VLE (such as Moodle) by this exception, including remote access for UCL students not on the premises.
  • Covers any copyright work apart from broadcasts and stand-alone artistic works (such as photographs and paintings)
  • Offers an opening to use a work which is not covered by a licence. Examples would be a book which is excluded from the CLA licence by the publisher or an extract from any film, since there is currently no blanket licence available which would cover that usage.

This is an exception to be used with caution. In particular there may be difficulties in monitoring the limitation of 5% of a work in any 12 month period. In specific circumstances however it could prove very useful.  Extracts would be best added to an online reading list, using the Library’s Course readings service.