Discussing copyright with Prodromos Tsiavos, Senior Research Fellow at The Media Institute, University College London (UCL) – Part II

Prodromos Tsiavos

Prodromos Tsiavos

This is Part II of our interview with Intellectual Property Law Expert Prodromos Tsiavos about best practices in copyright and fair use for the media industry and libraries. In Part I, Prodromos talked about the European Commission’s plans to rewrite the 2001 Directive on Copyright, about exceptions for TDM of media content, fair remuneration of publishers and hyperlinking internet content. In Part II, Prodromos explains copyright in libraries.

DS: What is creative commons and how it applies on libraries?
PT: Creative Commons is a flexible licensing system that allows rights holders to license their work in a way that balances their rights with those of the users-creators. For example, Wikipedia is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Share Alike licence, i.e. a licence that allows everyone to read, copy and share the Wikipedia content with the only restriction being that they should say where they took the material from and share any altered versions of the content under the same terms and conditions. Most of the EU governments share their content (public sector information) under a Creative Commons Attribution or compatible licence, i.e. with a licence that allows the re-use of the content without any restrictions other than stating its source.

The Creative Commons licences are also extensively used by Universities and Research Performing Organisations for the release of their research. Europeana uses the Public Domain Mark and the Creative Commons Zero as tools (a) to protect what is in the public domain, i.e. works that are not copyrighted anymore and (b) to allow the dissemination of the meta-data of their records with the minimum possible restrictions.

Creative Commons licences are of particular interest for libraries precisely because they substantially reduce their transaction costs: Libraries want to use Creative Commons licensed material because they know the terms under which it is provided, they can search and re-use it and it supports their public task. In addition, precisely because Creative Commons licences are machine readable, the material that is licensed under such licences is easy to find through any of the on-line search engines making it, thus, more discoverable and usable and helping both the creator and the user.

DS: What does copyright cover for library use?
PT: Almost everything a library does relate to one way or another to copyright law! However, if I were to identify some of the core copyright issues for a library I would focus on the following:

  • Make sure you know the limitations and exceptions in your jurisdiction that are most relevant to your library use. In particular:
    • Private reproduction and whether the photocopying or scanning taking place in your library is covered by limitations and exceptions or a licensing scheme
    • Reproduction for purposes of comment or criticism: this is particularly relevant for the teaching staff and the content they reproduce when they compile their material. They need to know whether it is in the public domain, it is an orphan work, it falls within the limitations and exceptions, it is open content or some licence has been obtain allowing its reuse. This is particularly relevant when such material is provided in the form of open educational resources or as part of a MOOC
    • Release of meta-data under a licensing scheme that allows their re-use: I always suggest Creative Commons Zero in that respect
    • Supporting TDM (Text and Data Mining) in the contractual provisions with the journal publishers or making sure it falls within the limitations and exceptions in the jurisdictions where I am based
    • Supporting the use of Free/ Open Source Software to reduce licensing costs
    • Negotiate with publishers on the basis of the use of the journals and the existing of open access articles so as to reduce the yearly subscription costs
    • Support the expansion of the limitations and exceptions related to the use of material for educational purposes
    • Support the use of Open Access institutional repositories and green open access as it allows for a less expensive approach to open access publishing
    • Make use of public domain or open material such as the one found in Europeana, Institutional Open Access Repositories and Wikipedia and collaborate to increase and deepen the ecology of open content and research data
    • Ensure researchers know the open data resources available and that they release their data as open as well
    • Share infrastructures, expertise and use open standards for their infrastructures and services

DT: What is meant by the term “public domain”? And how can a library user know if something is public domain?
PS: Material in which no copyright subsist is in the public domain. Different types of material enter the public domain in different times. There is no simple, single and secure way to know in advance whether some material is in the public domain, though the rule of the thumb is that content enters the public domain 70 years from the death of the author. I suggest that libraries visit the http://outofcopyright.eu/ web site to find more about material that is in the Public Domain and contribute to the production of decision trees assisting in the calculation of the term of protection.

About Mr Prodromos Tsiavos
Prodromos is heading the IPR department at AVG LAW Athens, is a legal adviser for the National Documentation Center/ National Hellenic Research Foundation and a member of the Executive Board of the Greek Free Open Source Software Society (EEL/LAK). Prodromos has worked for the European Commission, Oxford and Oslo University, the Athens University of Economics and Business and the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE). He read law and Information Systems in Athens and London and holds a PhD in Law and Information Systems from the LSE. Prodromos has worked as an adviser for a number of public sector institutions and private cultural and creative industry organisations on legal issues of open data, FOSS, open hardware and open innovation/ fabrication and has participated in a series of legislative committees on issues of information and open data regulation. He is heading the licensing working group in the LAPSI2 project for the implementation of the amended version of the Public Sector Information Directive and is a senior research fellow at the Media Institute at the University College London (UCL).

You can follow Prodromos on Twitter (@prodromos) or reach him via email (p.tsiavos@ucl.ac.uk)

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