Copyright awareness or copyright literacy — awareness, education and training — is a growing area for all copyright professionals and those who create, own and use materials protected by copyright. What are you doing each day (or week or month) to spread the copyright message in your community? Below we discuss our initiatives in this growing area of copyright literacy. Also see Developing a Copyright Education Strategy.
Spreading Copyright Awareness
What are you doing to engage your community in discussion about copyright, copyright literacy and information literacy?
Copyright awareness could be as simple as discussing downloading music (legally!) with your children around the dinner table. Or sharing with a colleague a URL to an article about legally using trademarks. Or posting a message on your Facebook page about how others can obtain permission to use your photos or illustrations.
Whether we create or use materials protected by copyright, it’s easy to see how copyright (and the larger area of intellectual property) is an integral part of our daily lives.
A favorite quote about understanding copyright law and “spreading the copyright message” comes from former U.S. Register for Copyright, Maria Pallante, where she states that copyright is a life skill:
It’s one of those life skills now, right? When you graduate from high school or college, you should know how to read a map, you should know how to use GPS, you should know a little bit about copyright. If you are somebody who is going to be in a field where you will encounter copyrighted materials all the time, you should know more. If you’re going to be an artist or musician and you’re getting a red-hot degree in the performing arts, you should know a lot. And I don’t think that’s quite the case — I don’t think it’s been built into the curricula.
Our Copyright Awareness Survey
In April 2017 on World IP Day, Copyrightlaws.com arranged a virtual global copyright conversation. Following that, we organized lunches with interesting and diverse groups of copyright professionals in various U.S. and Canadian cities. What are you doing to get the global copyright conversation going?
Copyrightlaws.com also conducted a survey on copyright awareness and education in 2017. We obtained excellent feedback, including the following:
It’s challenging and exciting to promote copyright awareness in a corporation.
Ongoing education is important (but hard to find time and money)
Copyright gets more important with each passing day.
It’s hard to get people interested…
I’m finding that it’s something that one needs to stay current on and constant refreshing is helpful since most questions I receive don’t have standard answers.
Your Copyright Awareness Message
What’s the copyright message you want to spread among your community, and how will you succeed at doing so? Take a few moments to jot down some notes, discuss your ideas with colleagues, and determine when the timing is right to proceed. And remember to turn each relevant opportunity into a teachable moment! Some helpful ideas are in the article Copyright Education Ideas.
Defining Copyright Literacy and Copyright Awareness
There’s no dictionary definition of copyright literacy. While it’s best defined according to the context and needs of your enterprise, we often use the following definition.
“Literacy is defined as competence or knowledge in a specific area. Copyright literacy is more specific; it refers to important competencies and knowledge that include identifying copyright-protected materials, navigating fair use and fair dealing, obtaining permissions and licenses where necessary, and recognizing infringement of copyright law.”
— Copyrightlaws.com, “Copyright Literacy and Translating Copyright to a Life Skill”
Copyright literacy helps your copyright stakeholders unravel and understand the many layers of copyright pertaining to your enterprise in particular and their role specifically. It enables them to apply that information to their uses of copyright-protected materials, take an active role in copyright management, and decrease infringement risks.
Copyright literacy includes:
- Understanding basic elements of copyright law
- Being aware of the consequences of copyright and licensing violations
- Recognizing copyright or licensing issues and seeking assistance
- Appreciating that applying the law often depends on the facts of each situation
- Consulting existing copyright policies, guidelines and other resources
- Keeping current on amendments to copyright laws and court cases
Information Literacy includes Intellectual Property
In the recently published CILIP Definition of Information Literacy 2018, the definition of information literacy includes:
It incorporates critical thinking and awareness, and an understanding of both the ethical and political issues associated with using information.
Information literacy is associated and overlaps with other literacies, including specifically digital literacy, academic literacy and media literacy. It is not a stand-alone concept, and is aligned with other areas of knowledge and understanding.
Information literacy helps to understand the ethical and legal issues associated with the use of information, including privacy, data protection, freedom of information, open access/open date and intellectual property.
Raising Copyright Literacy in Your Community
How do these concepts fit into your culture and enterprise?
Who’s your audience — Researchers? Librarians? Senior management? Engineers? Writers, photographers and designers? Your social media team? The public?
Think about how you would define and incorporate copyright literacy into your community. Then create a plan and start spreading the copyright message to your audience(s).
See our eTutorial Developing a Copyright Education Strategy to help you
develop a plan to increase copyright awareness in your library or organization.