Copyrights – Who Owns What on the Web?

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Digital web content presents big challenges for the legislative and licensing framework regarding copyright and other types of intellectual property rights (IPR). In the session Who Owns What on the Web? on Thursday, December 4th, Dr Derek Stephens, Loughborough University, UK, will focus on higher and further education institutions and how they can be sufficiently prepared to deal with the subject.


Copyright and other intellectual property rights (IPR) present substantial challenges for universities and educational institutions that deploy, adapt and develop next-generation technologies such as Web 2.0, and re-use of third-party content, says the research group of Dr Derek Stephens. The group focuses in particular on the existence of diverse cultural perceptions about the relevance of legal issues in a Web 2.0 environment.


The experts from Loughborough University, together with colleagues from Edinburgh and Plymouth Universities, are members of the Web2Rights Project ( The “task force” addresses issues like how to encourage engagement by staff with legal issues. To engender a culture of mutual respect for creative works is another aspect that Web2Rights wants to enhance, whilst also recognising the need for pragmatism and a managed approached to risk when dealing with works, for example, where rights holders are unknown or cannot be traced.


The assignment of the project group was to create an innovative and practical intellectual property (IP) toolkit to support projects funded within the JISC Users and Innovation Programme in their engagement with next-generation and Web 2.0 technologies. Core concerns were:

  1. How to make the toolkit actually valued and utilised by avoiding the creation of “shelfware”
  2. Ensuring that pedagogic approaches were built in from the start
  3. Creating a team which worked well together and enjoyed the project experience

The experts were able to suggest solutions online using Web 2.0 technologies, such as Wikis, and the majority of Web2Rights materials were developed via online collaboration. Indeed, while the topic was Web 2.0, and the seemingly logical output was to be high tech, the tool most often identified as useful was an A2 poster flowchart of an IPR decision-making approach. While a similar online decision tree was found to be useful by some, the impact of the hardcopy solution was exemplified by the high praise it received from users and their recommendations for its comprehensive distribution.


Dr Derek Stephens, Naomi Korn and Dr Neil Witt, Loughborough University, UK, will present their project on Thursday, December 4, 2008, 16:30 – 17:30 in the session “Who Owns What on the Web?”

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