September 2009
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ET Collective – Risks, Rights and Reflections

Now everyone’s back it seems a good time to take stock of where we are to date. Units continue to come through albeit at a reduced rate as the academics busily head into the new term. As we get into the nitty gritty of the project, more and more IPR/copyright issues rear their heads. We seem to be erring on the side of caution and adopting a very conservative approach to clearance. Playing Devil’s Advocate, Anna asked whether we should be looking to relax our approach a little, by looking into the possibility of creating guidelines for using limited third party content under a defence of insubstantial use. However after discussion it was agreed that while shortcuts are appealing, everybody wanted the peace of mind that as much as possible had been done to limit risk of copyright infringement. For that reason we have decided to maintain our stringent interpretation of the guidelines. However, being merely ‘guidelines’ they suffer from being prone to multiple interpretations so, to avoid mixed messages within the University, we need to begin to think about how we communicate the guidelines on IPR and copyright to academics and contributors. They need a clear set of rules to follow in order for us to be consistent and this will be incorporated into the staff development plan.

Anna advised that IPR involves risk-assessment judgements and these judgements cannot be made unless the value of typical material is known. She reported that she has therefore made a start on gathering this information. There is also a discussion to be had as to where the money would come from to pay penalties, should we be claimed against. We agreed it would be a good idea to invite a representative from the Insurance Office to the next Steering Group meeting and a relevant item to be added to the agenda.

JISC is running an online conference on innovative e-learning – ‘Thriving, not just surviving!’ from 24-27 November 2009. We have extended the invite to academics and contributors and several of them are getting involved.

Finally, many happy returns to Tom whose birthday it is tomorrow. We’re looking forward to the homemade flapjacks (to ensure they are edible, his daughter is making them!).

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