Web Magazine for Information Professionals

The Intellectual Property Rights Workshop

William J. Nixon and Jessie Hey co-report on the JISC IPR workshop held in London, May 2003.

The Intellectual Property Rights workshop was organised by the Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC) on behalf of the X4L [1], 599 [2] and FAIR [3] Programmes and was a well attended and thought-provoking event. It was also timely, as many of our projects, in both higher and further education, begin to deal with the larger IPR issues which we are all facing. Copyright is becoming more complex and there are many unresolved issues about relationships and ownership, whether in the context of Learning and Teaching or of other institutional resources.


Rachel Bruce, Information Environment Acting Team Leader, opened the day on behalf of JISC. The aims of the day were:

The programme began with a talk from Emanuella Giavarra, a copyright lawyer and the author of the Draft Depositor Licence for JORUM - a digital repository service for learning materials. Emanuella’s talk was entitled “Copyright and the EU Directive” [4]. Her aim was to “make lawyers out of us in half an hour” and provide an introduction to Copyright.

Copyright is a property right and one which subsists in:

It provides the creator of the work, or in the case of copyright being assigned, the assignee a range of rights which include the rights to:

The European Union has issued a range of Directives in recent years and The EU Copyright Directive 2001 is being implemented in the UK right now. It is intended to bring EU harmonisation on copyright for both the paper and the digital environments. The deadline was, in principle, 31 December 2002. The Article 3 directive on rights of communication with the public, for example, was causing problems as it was difficult to understand its meaning.

Sarah Currier provided an overview of “Digital Rights Management and e-Learning” [5]. Sarah recommended that people interested in Digital Rights Management (DRM) should read the IEEE report “Towards a Digital Rights Expression Language Standard for Learning Technology” [6]. From the wide variety of standards that are surveyed in that white paper, Open Digital Rights Language (ODRL) and Extensible Rights Markup Language (XrML) are singled out as potential candidates for the role of educational digital rights expression language standard. In both cases, some extensions or some application profiling (i.e. agreeing an implementation) would be necessary to support all the necessary access roles.

Digital Rights determine who can do what under what conditions. The aim of DRM is to prevent unauthorised use and to preserve the integrity of digital information.

This is critical if we are to ensure the integrity of the e-Learning or other digital objects which are held in our repositories. We must be able to assure our users, (the creators of content), that we can enforce digital rights in the use of their objects. These issues are not specific, or unique to e-Learning but they are critical to its success.

Digital rights are not static, they will change over time or in different circumstances. Sarah provided some examples of this, such as authors who may wish to make their content free for academic, but fee-based for commercial users.

In the e-Learning world, where objects may be reused or re-purposed, attribution to the original creator, context and fidelity are paramount.

There is a range of bodies dealing with DRM issues. These include the IEEE Learning Technology Standards Committee Digital Rights Expression Language Study Group. The CEN/ISSS Learning Technology Workshop, led by Richard McCracken, is producing an overview of all types of Copyright Issues.

Elizabeth Gadd introduced the “Open Rights Digital Language (ODRL)”. ODRL is an open source Digital Rights Management Language which only describes rights. Elizabeth took us through the ODRL Expression Model. The RoMEO Project is now hoping to work with the Creative Commons licences rather than develop a standalone ODRL solution.

Richard McKracken, Head of Rights at the Open University, presented a talk on the “Creative Commons” [7] The Creative Commons has a very positive approach to copyright as is illustrated by the excellent “Get Creative” [8] an animated Flash short feature about creative co-authorship and copyright in the digital age which Richard showed us. You can see this for yourself on the Creative Commons web site.

The Creative Commons is devoted to expanding the range of creative work available for others to build upon and share.

Figure 1 image (4KB): taken from creative commons website)
Fig. 1 (taken from Creative Commons under a Creative Commons Licence).

In the Creative Commons model, there is a distinction drawn between: Big C [Copyright] “All Rights Reserved” and CC “Some Rights Reserved”.

The Creative Commons evolved from the same ideals of open source software such as Linux. MIT’s OpenCourseWare [9], a free, open, publication of MIT Course Materials, piloted in September 2002, is another example using the open source model for learning materials. The Commons was founded in 2001 and is housed at Stanford Law School. There are 11 licences and four categories:

The licences come in three versions: Legal, plain text and machine-readable.

Parallel Sessions

The parallel sessions provided more specific sessions for each of the programmes. The presentation about the “Draft JORUM Depositor Licence for learning materials” [10] by Emanuella Giavara was of particular relevance to X4L while Elizabeth Gadd’s “RoMEO Project outcomes” was of particular interest to FAIR Projects. There is, however, overlap here and the development of the JORUM Depositor Licence and the background to it is of interest to FAIR and vice versa.

James Clay, Director, FAIR Enough Project discussed the issues of “Sharing resources: ownership and protection within and outside institutions” [11]. James’ talk focussed on issues of ownership and protection which employees of institutions have, or may think which they have.

He drew attention to differences between Higher Education and Further Education with particular regard to contractual obligations. In many cases HE staff have more rights over copyright and IPR than their colleagues in FE institutions.

Elizabeth Gadd, from the RoMEO Project led a “Workshop and discussion on the outcomes of the work of the RoMEO Project” [12]. RoMEO has identified a range of solutions to the issues of copyright assignation and stressed the importance of a depositor’s licence for Institutional Repositories.

She also presented a useful flowchart of the publishing process from the RoMEO Study: The impact of copyright ownership on academic author self-archiving. It is entitled ‘How can I self-archive AND get my paper published?’ This looks at the options of self-archiving the pre-print and the post-print and the effects of different copyright transfer agreements and could prove useful in discussions with academics.

The Creative Commons licences which featured in the morning were thought to be a good fit with the RoMEO findings, having all the elements of a complete rights solution. Academics are prepared to offer very liberal usage rights. Some technical problems would need to be addressed to incorporate the Creative Commons into Open Archive Initiative (OAI) [13] solutions. The RoMEO project has discussed this with the OAI and since the workshop it has been announced that the OAI will be working with the RoMEO project to develop a white paper on disclosing and harvesting rights under the OAI-PMH protocol. This will then be discussed by a specially established OAI technical committee on rights, refined, and put out to the whole community for further discussion. It is hoped that the final specification will be completed by February 2004.

Ralph Weedon, Director of the JISC Legal Information Service (J-LIS), and Helen Pickering (Copyright Manager of HERON) co-hosted a parallel session with an “IPR FAQ” [14] and “Licensing parts of commercial works for educational use” [15].

Q & A Session

There was a lively Question and Answer plenary session when all of the attendees came together after the parallel sessions [16]. A range of issues were discussed including the responsibility of a library to check whether users are copying for commercial purposes - which they should.

Ideas which may be taken forward include a training day on licensing issues (organized by J-LIS the JISC Legal Information Service [17]). This event would be useful for both project and institutional staff involved with contracts.

Since the event, JISC has put together a focus group to look at the development of a “Creative Commons” licence for the UK which includes Emanuella Giavarra. This group will also be responsible for developing a strategy for dissemination of the licence system to ensure maximum engagement and take-up.


This was a very useful and thought-provoking event. The presentations [including the Q & A session] can be viewed in more detail [18] on the JISC Web site. Although we were perhaps not Copyright experts by the end of the day we were much more aware of the IPR issues which our projects need to tackle. We also saw some possible approaches to managing IPR from Open Digital Rights Languages to the development of depositor licences. These approaches will enable us to balance copyright management with the ideals of open access and fair use which underpin our programmes.

Editor’s note

Readers may also be interested by Elizabeth Gadd’s article on protecting metadata in an open access environment in this issue.


  1. JISC Exchange for Learning (X4L) Programme
  2. Learning and Teaching 599
  3. FAIR http://www.jisc.ac.uk/index.cfm?name=programme_fair
  4. Copyright and the EU Directive: Emanuella Giavarra [Powerpoint]
  5. Open Digital Rights Language - encapsulating rights in metadata: Sarah Currier [Powerpoint]
  6. “Towards a Digital Rights Expression Language Standard for Learning Technology” [Word]
  7. Creative Commons: Richard McCracken [Powerpoint]
  8. Creative Commons http://www.creativecommons.org/
  9. MIT OpenCourseWare http://ocw.mit.edu/index.html
  10. JORUM+ depositor licence: Emanuella Giavarra [Powerpoint]
  11. Sharing resources: ownership and protection issues: James Clay [Powerpoint]
  12. Workshop and discussion on RoMEO project outcomes: Elizabeth Gadd [Powerpoint]
  13. Open Archives Initiative (OAI) http://www.openarchives.org/
  14. IPR FAQ: Ralph Weedon [Powerpoint]
  15. Licensing parts of commercial works (HERON): Helen Pickering [Powerpoint]
  16. Plenary Questions and Answers [Word]
  17. J-LIS (JISC Legal Information Service)
  18. IPR meeting 29 May 2003

Author Details

William J Nixon
William is the Deputy Head of IT Services, Glasgow University Library and Administrator of the Glasgow ePrints Service. He is also the Project Manager: Service Development for DAEDALUS (University of Glasgow)

E-mail: w.j.nixon@lib.gla.ac.uk
Web site: http://www.gla.ac.uk/daedalus

Jessie Hey
Jessie is a Research Fellow on the TARDIS e-Prints project at the University of Southampton

E-mail: jessie.hey@soton.ac.uk
Web site: http://tardis.eprints.org/

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Article Title: “Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) Workshop, London - May 2003”
Author: William J Nixon and Jessie Hey
Publication Date: 30-July-2003
Publication: Ariadne Issue 36
Originating URL: http://www.ariadne.ac.uk/issue36/iprws-rpt/