This week we spoke to Jane Secker and Chris Morrison, two dedicated copyright professionals who together have formed the fantastic UK Copyright Literacy team. Jane and Chris believe that learning about copyright should be fun, engaging and empowering. In order to make this belief a reality, they've devised 'Icepops: the International Copyright Literacy Event with Playful Opportunities for Practitioners and Scholars', run with partners the CILIP Information Literacy Group. The event is being run as the first satellite of the LILAC conference. We spoke to Jane and Chris to find out more about the event and their motivations behind it:
We love this idea of making copyright fun and engaging, we completely agree! What inspired this belief in you in the first place?
Chris: Well copyright is supposed to incentivise creativity and although it is by its nature quite a complex beast I always thought there was an opportunity to make learning about it more engaging and creative. Around the time of the Hargreaves review of copyright in the UK I had been thinking about the fact that certain copyright exceptions would now "trump" contract law and a card game seemed an obvious route to develop the approach I was leaning towards with my copyright training style. It was after meeting Jane that I really got the opportunity to put these ideas into practice and we came up with the resources that we now make available through copyrightliteracy.org (Copyright the Card Game and the Publishing Trap).
Jane: I was the copyright advisor at LSE until April 2017 and so regularly ran training for staff and students on copyright. I always tried to liven things up, introducing copyright quizzes and interesting scenarios. I found being enthusiastic about copyright went some way, but the biggest challenge I had was getting people to attend sessions in the first place. So when in 2014, Chris suggested making a card game I immediately thought it sounded great. I also thought of the work that Andy Walsh, librarian at the University of Huddersfield had done on information literacy and games-based learning. I was interested in seeing what you could do to bring in elements of games and play into copyright training. And once we started doing some research into this I realised that games could be really powerful for learning about difficult or challenging subjects. The benefit of the card game for me was the buzz it created around copyright education and the element of competition as people played in teams. When I used it in copyright sessions at LSE I found more people attended those classes than ever before as word got around there were prizes involved!
What are some of the ways that you have made copyright more creative and enjoyable?
Jane: After we made Copyright the Card Game, which was very much Chris's, shall we call it 'obsession', we started talking about other games we could develop. We have experimented with using the cards in different ways to teach students and PhD students, and we made a game about copyright and social media. However, we were inspired by the Lagadothon competition held at the LILAC conference in 2016, to try and make a game suitable for academics and early career researchers on the issues associated with copyright and licensing that they faced. I wanted to use elements from the Game of Life, to take academics through their career lifestyle. What resulted after a lot of hard work was the Publishing Trap, our game of scholarly communication. It explores the choices that are made about copyright and licensing of your work in higher education and open access also features fairly centrally. However, we've also been encouraging people to come up with their own ideas for creative approaches to copyright education in a workshop we've run. I've become interested in creative approaches to teaching more broadly, and inspired by the copyright cards have been using cards in a learning design workshop, which seems to lead to some pretty interesting and fun results in lesson planning at City University!
Chris: I'm really interested in ways of using all the senses to convey these sometimes quite abstract concepts. My ideas for the first iteration of the Publishing Trap were about building simulations of the business models underpinning publishing using Velcro-backed card. We've tried to retain the visually appealing and tactile approach in the Publishing Trap using magnetic pieces which has worked well. We're looking at options for making a production version of the game in which all the pieces are provided. It's available as a free download and we're committed to keeping it that way, but for us it's about designing the whole learning experience to capture people's imaginations as much as delivering information.
Copyright literacy is clearly something that is very important to both of you. How important do you feel that copyright literacy is to the rest of the HE community?
Chris: I think it's something that most people realise is fundamental to Higher Education - lecturers teaching, students learning, researchers and everyone else who supports the knowledge work that takes place. But for many people it's just one thing on a list of topics they feel they should know more about but find daunting and perhaps likely to stop them doing what they want to do. Our aim is to get copyright literacy embedded into the culture so that people understand their own rights and responsibilities. In some cases we want people to be conscious about it such as when they need to make important decisions about how to disseminate their own work. At other times it is more appropriate to make copyright fade into the background by creating policies and processes that make doing the right thing the easiest thing to do. But I'll admit for many it's not their top priority and when I tell people what I do I can see their spirits dip momentarily.
Jane: The higher education community takes copyright seriously. Many academics are themselves creators and authors, acknowledging your sources is a fundamental part of research. Our recent research into copyright specialists in the library and education sector highlights the value placed on having an in-house copyright specialist in the UK, particularly in universities where 75% have a dedicated professional in this role. And also the costs that the sector pays for licences and permissions indicate the value that is ascribed to copyright. Our international work with other researchers and practitioners also shows that there is a growing recognition of the importance of copyright literacy elsewhere. Librarians and information professionals play a really important role as copyright educators. We're often well aware of the risks involved and in many institutions, librarians are providing valuable advice, support and develop appropriate policies to ensure that other staff and students are informed about copyright matters.
How would you advise other Higher Education professionals to make copyright more empowering at their institution?
Chris: In the second edition of Jane's book Copyright and E-learning: A guide for practitioners (Facet 2016) which we co-wrote there's a chapter on copyright education. It's available for free download here and gives some tips for getting out there with the copyright message as well as giving a case study of using Copyright the Card Game.
Jane: I always think that starting with positive messages is really important, copyright is often presented as a problem and a barrier to creativity and innovation when in fact it's supposed to be about encouraging the opposite of that! We all take people's ideas and use them for inspiration, so it's about explaining how copyright works, what it's there for and what sorts of things copyright exceptions and the licences that most educational establishments have (such as the CLA Licence) let you do! I like to throw in a bit of copyright history too, but that's because I'm a bit of a history nerd and think you should always know where something comes from.
We're really looking forward to attending 'Icepops' in April. Can you tell us a bit more about what we can expect from the event?
Jane: Well if we said expect something different, does that give you a flavour of the event? We want to keep some of our plans under wraps, but we have two excellent keynote speakers, one who's a copyright history professor, Ronan Deazley and one who's a games-based learning expert, Alex Moseley. We're also delighted to be joined by Dr Hayleigh Bosher, Senior Lecturer in IP Law from Coventry University and Kyle Courtney the Copyright Advisor from Harvard University. There are also some amazing speakers from the UK, Europe, and further afield, (New Zealand and the US no less) taking part in the lightning talks, world cafe and games pitch. Put that together with a games hack, plenty of food and drink and an evening social event, how could you not enjoy it? We are working hard to make the day a lot of fun, but it is the first time we've done such an event so we'll be relying on enthusiasm and energy from the delegates too.
Chris: I think you can expect copyright, games, enlightenment and perhaps a bit of chaos thrown in. We're really looking forward to it and hope to see as many people interested in communicating the copyright literacy message as can make it.
'Icepops' is a one-day event that will take place on Tuesday 3 April, at the University of Liverpool. Find out more about the event and how to book your place by visiting their website.
About the Authors
Chris Morrison (@cbowiemorrison) is Copyright, Software Licensing and Information Services Policy Manager at the University of Kent and Jane Secker (@jsecker) is Senior Lecturer in Educational Development at City, University of London. Both are members of the Universities UK / Guild HE Copyright Working Group