The Rights Clearance Process


This resources is an extract of the STEM OER guide found at http://stemoer.pbworks...
When preparing OER one of the first steps you should undertake is a right clearance process.
This involves iden...
- One sentence = uncertain (11 words have recently be held to have copyright
        although this may not apply to every ...
(1) The author of a work is the first owner of any copyright in it, subject to the following

(2) Where a lite...
The Humbox OER project has produced a very useful resource based on OpenLabyrinth to
guide you through the copyright clear...
Be careful of using content where no owner can be identified, or so called 'Orphan works', as
this does not mean that the ...
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IPR Clearance- STEM OER GUIDE section


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An extract of the IPR Clearance section taken from the STEMOER guide produced jointly by the UK HEA GEES, Bioscience, Material, Physcial Sciences and Engieering Subject Centres as a part of their OER Phase 1 projects.

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IPR Clearance- STEM OER GUIDE section

  1. 1. The Rights Clearance Process Notices This resources is an extract of the STEM OER guide found at It is licensed under the terms of the Attribution-Non-Commercial-Share Alike 2.0 UK: England & Wales licence Funding for this work came from HEFCE, via the JISC/Higher Education Academy Open Educational Resources Pilot Programme. The Subject, Institutional and Individual pilot projects ran from May 2009 to April 2010 and produced a vast amount of open learning materials. The majority of these materials are available (or linked to) on JorumOpen, and can be found by searching for ukoer. UKOER Project teams contributing to this work were: • Bioscience OER Pilot Project - UK Centre for Bioscience • C-change - The GEES Subject Centre • CORE Materials - UK Centre for Materials Education • Open Engineering Resources OER Project - Engineering Subject Centre • Skills for Scientists - UK Physical Sciences Centre Resources produced by the projects can be found here: Resources However this document contains other third-party materials under their own licences. The licences and attributions are outlined below: 1. The HEA is licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-non- commercial-no-derivative works 2.0 UK England & Wales licence. All reproductions must comply with the terms of that licence. 2. The HEA logo is owned by the Higher Education Academy Limited and may be freely distributed and copied for educational purposes only, provided that appropriate acknowledgement is given to the Higher Education Academy as the copyright holder and original publisher. STEMOER GUIDE IPR CLEARANCE
  2. 2. Background When preparing OER one of the first steps you should undertake is a right clearance process. This involves identifying who owns the Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) behind a resource. You need to know this in order to determine if you can release the resource as OER. You need permission to release anything that you do not own the rights to. Also ask yourself if you really own what you think you own. We’re not talking about physical possession of an item but the right to control what is done with the contents. In order to answer this you need to know a little bit about IPR however this is not meant to be a law lecture but an introduction to the major issues when creating or releasing OER. Copyright intro Copyright is a form of IPR that protects resources and this protection covers works that can be described as literary, artistic, dramatic, sound recordings, musical, films, broadcasts and typographic arrangement. Type of Work Example Duration of copyright Journal articles, books, Literary, dramatic, letters, lecture musical or artistic slides/handouts, pictures, works photographs, images, graphs, tables. Songs, speeches, performances, 70 years after Sound recordings pieces of music, any recorded death of author. sounds. 50 years from the end of the year in Films which the recording was made. 70 years after the end of the year in which the last of the principal director, TV programmes, podcasts, online author of Broadcasts seminars as aired. screenplay, author of dialogue or composer of music dies. 50 years from the end of the year in The typeset/ appearance of which the Typographic arrangements something, i.e. layout, format, broadcast was stylisation etc. made. Copyright, Designs and Patent Act 1988 Section 1. Ordinarily, we can be sure that: - One word = no copyright protection; STEMOER GUIDE IPR CLEARANCE
  3. 3. - One sentence = uncertain (11 words have recently be held to have copyright although this may not apply to every case); - Formulas/equations/recipes = no copyright*; - One Chapter = Copyright; and - One Paragraph = Copyright may exist depending on the facts on the particular case. (* Slightly contentious but the reasoning is that a formula on its own is not enough to warrant copyright protection. You would need the instructions/methodology along with the ingredients and the right would exist in the whole work.) N.B. Unfortunately, due to the technicalities of legal drafting, the Act also refers to infringement in terms of a 'significant' part of the original work. If you use a significant part of a work, your use will amount to an infringement, but this 'significant' value varies with every case and, therefore, every resource. There is guidance to the effect of the example above; however, if you are in any doubt, ask your institution's Copyright Officer, Legal Department or Enterprise Office for specific advice. Open licences There are many types of open licence; all enable the use of resources without payment of a royalty or fee. Some are superficially made for specific types of resources, such as software. All enable the licensor to stipulate what is permissible in terms of reuse, for instance if the resource must not be changed in any way. The licence should be embedded within the resource as part of the metadata so that users can see the terms on which they can make use of the resource. Information on how to include metadata with resources can be found in our guide here. Further information on the different types of open licensing can be found here: Creative Commons (CC) licences are a specific type of open licence, used commonly with OERs. More information, and the opportunity to generate and download CC licences, can be found on their website There is also a useful Microsoft plug-in that can be installed that allows creators to automatically add CC licences to work they create in MSOffice packages. b91d07c76504&displaylang=en. N.B In order to apply a licence you must be, or have the permission of the IPR owner. Ownership So... how do you know who owns what? Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 says: STEMOER GUIDE IPR CLEARANCE
  4. 4. (1) The author of a work is the first owner of any copyright in it, subject to the following provisions. (2) Where a literary, dramatic, musical or artistic work is made by an employee in the course of his employment, his employer is the first owner of any copyright in the work subject to any agreement to the contrary. This means that the copyright owner of a work is usually the author, i.e. the person who puts a work into a copyright form, the person who actually records the expression of the idea, except where other agreements apply. The author has the right to control their work and the right to be identified as the author of a work. • If you write something down, you own the copyright in it; • If you come up with an idea and write it down/record it in some form; you own the copyright in the expression, i.e. what is recorded; and • If you come up with an idea but do not record it - there is no copyright. You are the author of the work, you put the idea into a recorded form and therefore are entitled to control what happens to it. However if the work was in the course of your job then it is highly likely that your employer owns the copyright, rather than you (the default position). Your contract of employment, terms of service or other related documentation should give details on the ownership of IPR in materials created as an employee, and contracts do differ from institution to institution so please take the time to confirm your position. If you are unsure, ask your Personnel Department to clarify the institutional position. Why is this important? It is important because you cannot apply a licence to something you do not own or do not have permission to release. These issues need to be identified before any effort is undertaken to release the resource. Of course, this process in itself can be a substantial effort when trying to convert existing resources for OER release. When OER practices become the norm, many of these steps will be removed, thus making the whole process quicker and easier. If you are creating resources from scratch, many of these issues are avoidable. Dealing with Third Party Copyright Works f you see a diagram which explains a theory, a mechanism, a device or something similar in a way you find really useful, check to see if you are allowed to use it. See if there is anything on the resource that mentions reuse or any form of notice that outlines the copyright status of the resource. NB If there is no information, do not assume you are free to use the resource! You should always ask if the person you contact is in fact the owner of the rights in the first place. If you do not get a response or if you get a refusal, there is nothing to stop you redrawing the image, providing you do not copy the expression. STEMOER GUIDE IPR CLEARANCE
  5. 5. The Humbox OER project has produced a very useful resource based on OpenLabyrinth to guide you through the copyright clearance process, and identifying what needs to be done with regards to content owned by third parties: Third party Resources So.... you've been through a resource and found some images sourced from a website, what happens next? Where any element of the resource is owned by a third party, permission is needed before it can be included within an OER. See if you can trace the owner of the resource and ask them for permission to use it in an OER and state that it will be released under a CC licence, or similar. Ensure you retain all requests for permission in a secure location for indefinite periods as you never know when you might need it. A template email or letter that can be adapted for your purposes can be found at which is based upon the advice provided by the Web2Rights project, found at As this is a template there are sections that will need completing, or deleting for your purposes. You may also want to get this draft checked by your own legal department before you send it. If permission is not granted or you do not receive a reply you will have to: Remove the material An option when the loss of this material does not completely detract from the resource as a whole or impact on the pedagogy. Remove the material This is the preferable and sometimes necessary but replace with an course of action. alternative The options here are: • create a replacement - the advantage to this is that ownership issues are simplified, • locate a replacement where permission to use is granted, this can be achieved by; o asking permission of the owner of the prospective replacement as before or, o locating alternatives which are already licensed for reuse e.g. CC licensed images Remove the material If you are unable find a suitable resource you could and replace with a always state exactly what was deleted so that users web link to the original can look for it independently. E.G. ‘see (textbook or other suitable name) by (author & publisher, ISBN) page ..... resource, if available figure.....’ online. STEMOER GUIDE IPR CLEARANCE
  6. 6. Be careful of using content where no owner can be identified, or so called 'Orphan works', as this does not mean that the work has no owner. 'In From the Cold', a report from JISC Collections Trust, estimated that there are millions of 'orphan works' and their lack of established ownership often prevents their reuse. Including such work within an OER would risk possible future legal challenges. '[In from the Cold' http://] Sources of Replacement Materials Fortunately there are sources of materials with open licences already applied. For access to several search facilities for open licensed materials visit the Creative Commons website http:// is a UK-based site which is designed to host OER. Google and Flickr have very successful advanced search facilities for use with images whereby you can limit results to those available for reuse under CC licences. Increasingly sites such as Scribd and Slideshare are enabling users to filter search results by licence type. Summary You need to ask Did you create it? Was it created while working? Did you create it for your job? Did you use your employers equipment? Do you own it? Is there anything in your contract of employment about ownership? Do you have permission to use it? STEMOER GUIDE IPR CLEARANCE