Another dot in the blogosphere?

Teachers don’t own the copyright, take ownership with CC

Posted on: October 28, 2014

Recently I read a kiwi teacher’s blog entry, Teachers Don’t Own Their Own Content!

This reminded me that most teachers do not seem to know that the copyright of whatever they create as employees of a school (on in Singapore’s case, the Ministry of Education) belongs to the school (or MOE).

In 2012, the Intellectual Property Office of Singapore (IPOS) created a handy infosheet on Copyright for Educators.

Part 16 spells this out clearly:

The copyright to works created in the course of employment belongs to the employer. Hence, while a Government school teacher may be the creator of resources in the cluster repository, MOE is actually the copyright owner. Likewise, an independent school which directly employs its own teachers owns the copyright to works created by them in the course of employment.

When the resource creator leaves, the copyright is still owned by the employer (whether MOE or the independent school in this scenario). The school can continue to use the resources, as well as control how others use it.

Our kiwi counterparts have the New Zealand Government Open Access and Licensing framework (NZGOAL) which “seeks to standardise the licensing of government copyright works for re-use using Creative Commons“.

I could not find a similar umbrella body or policy for Singapore. But I know of or have found local university resources that are shared under open access, e.g., NUS, NTU, SMU.

UNESCO’s Global Open Access Portal neatly summarizes Singapore’s progress in being part of the movement that offers openly accessible resources. At the moment, our contributions seem to centre around Institutional Repositories (like the ones I linked to earlier) and a vague reference to a National Library Board (NLB) initiative.

There is so much more that we can do and there is no need to wait. As individuals, we can create and share under Creative Commons (CC) licences. Creative Commons Singapore seems up to date with version 4.0 licensing as of this entry.

Presentation source

Here is something I shared a few years ago on CC with preservice teachers in NIE. It is shared under CC BY NC SA license, of course.

As a teacher or educator, you do not have the copyright to items you created. But that does not mean that you cannot take ownership of your work. With CC, you do that by specifying how others can use your work when you share preemptively.

Giving away so that you have stronger ownership might seem counterintuitive. However, all CC licenses include Attribution. You are tied to what you create even if the copyright of that artefact belongs to your employer.

The open and sharing-is-caring nature of CC is also aligned to the broader purpose of education. To free, and ideally, to offer what you have for free.

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