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Hypatia Project: Copyright Guidance: Introduction to Copyright & IPR

An introductory guide about copyright issues relating to the digitisation of print materials


Copyright is an intellectual property right (IPR) which gives the author/creator of a work certain rights to protect the way in which their materials are used.  There are a range of other intellectual property rights, including; 

  • design rights
  • patents
  • trademarks                                                            

In the United Kingdom, the legislation which addresses these intellectual property rights is the Copyright, Design and Patents Act, 1988. It sets out the detail of the protection provided to IPR owners as well as outlining exceptions to the rights which allow some limited fair use of materials.  

It is important to understand that there is a balancing act to be played out across intellectual property rights.  As a creator of intellectual property work you will want to protect your intellectual property rights, but you will also want to make fair use of intellectual property produced by other creators.So, it is important to understand IPR from both viewpoints - the author/owner v. the user/consumer. Decisions about what is permissible and what is not will not always be clear cut, as what is determined to be fair and reasonable use of content will vary from situation to situation.


Introducing IP Equip

Sometimes, discussion of copyright and IPR issues is couched in legal jargon which can make it very difficult to understand and to interpret for your own circumstances.  The Intellectual Property Office has addressed this by creating a very effective learning tool called IP Equip which introduces you to the various IPR rights.  

IP Equip is made up of four modules which you can complete online and makes good use of videos and case studies to show how and why IPR is important.  It is written from the business perspective rather than the HE perspective but nevertheless has lots of relevant content which will help you build your understanding of IPR.

Recommended Task

Complete the IP Equip Copyright Module - 15 minutes average completion time.

Once you have completed the module you will gain access to a very useful library of copyright materials which you can consult when dealing with copyright issues as they arise in the future.


Optional Task

Complete the full IP Equip suite of modules - 105 minutes average completion time for all modules

If you are interested in other aspects of IPR go ahead and complete the other modules. You do not need to follow them in one sitting. The modules are neatly packaged into 15/20 minutes discrete modules. You can also pause and return within individual modules. The material is very engaging and if you complete the full suite of four modules you will gain an IPO certification on completion. IPR is pervasive in modern society so this may prove to be a useful addition to your CV.

Recommended Resource is an excellent online resource aimed at demystifying copyright issues. It makes effective use of videos, FAQs and case studies to demonstrate lots of different aspects of copyright.

Explore the website and bookmark it as a useful reference tool. Watch the introductory video below, to learn more.

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