Copyright Resources

Through an educator’s lens

What is copyright?

Copyright provides protections for a number of exclusive rights for the copyright holder:

  • Economic rights relating to the rights to restrict reproduction, distribution and adaptations of the work
  • Moral rights relating to interests which are not financial or monetary
  • Related rights to protect persons other than the authors who are involved in the dissemination of copyrighted works
  • Transfer of rights relating to assignment of rights, licensing and transfer of rights

The most important moral rights concern:

  • The right to claim authorship (attribution or the right to remain anonymous)
  • The right of integrity (specifically relating to objection to derogatory uses of copyrighted works)
  • The right of disclosure (where authors may decide whether a work is to be made public)
  • The right of withdrawal (concerning the rights and conditions to withdraw a work after a change of ideas)

quoted from WikiEducator course OCL4Ed (2012.12)

Brief historical review:

Our modern concept of copyright in British common law has developed from the Statute of Queen Anne 1710 An Act for the Encouragement of Learning. It was passed for the purpose of promoting learning, specifically to encourage “learned men to compose and write useful books…So in effect, this statute created the public domain – the intellectual commons…Thus the origin of copyright suggests that there is no common law support for intellectual property. It is a privileged monopoly, not a right.”

cited in Wikieducator course, OCL4ED12-12  Session 3  Reference in wiki:  House of Commons. (1709). An Act for the Encouragement of Learning, by Vesting the Copies of Printed Books in the Author’s or Purchasers of Such Copies. Retrieved 28 October 2003

Copyright protects creative works of a literary, scientific or artistic nature. Copyright protects others from making an exact copy of the form and style used in the publication but does not protect the underlying idea.  creative works are copyrighted as “all-rights reserved”, unless stated otherwise. (Note:  May not entirely true in terms of the new Canadian Copyright Act)

From an international perspective:

The Berne Convention is an international agreement for governing copyright which was first accepted in 1886 in Berne, Switzerland. The intention of the Berne Convention was to promote an international system of equal treatment of copyright through minimum requirements.  The signatories of the Berne Convention agreed to a number of principles and minimum requirements for copyright. For example:

  • Copyright protection is automatic and should not require any formalities.
  • International works of signature countries must enjoy at least the same level of protection provided by the local national legislation.
  • If the copyright term in one country is less than the copyright term in another country, protection of the work in the country with a longer duration of copyright (than the country of origin) may be denied.

See also the World Intellectual Property Organization page “Legal Pitfalls in Taking or Using Photographs of Copyright Material, Trademarks and People”

cited in Wikieducator course, OCL4ED12-12  Session 3

UNESCO’s pamphlet – ABC of Copyright

Collection of National Copyright Laws


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