From education to employment

Intellectual property rights, essential for and in quality education

European and global educators sought a balance between the rights of creators and the rights of users in the education sector at Education International’s recent copyright conference.

Almost 90 European and international participants attended a high-level conference, “A better copyright for quality higher education and research in Europe and beyond” in Brussels, Belgium, on 11 April.

This joint conference, aiming to raise awareness on intellectual property issues and fight infringements to intellectual property rights for students and teachers, was organised by Education International (EI) European regional office, the European Trade Union Committee for Education (ETUCE), the European Federation of Education Employers (EFEE) and COMMUNIA, a network of intellectual property lawyers and advocates. The European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) financially supported the event.

Participants discussed ways to influence the political debate at European Union (EU) level, taking into account policy developments at global level. They also explored ways to provide insights into the intellectual and creative property rights of academics and researchers, and how to increase students’ awareness about copyright issues.

The conference occurred against a backdrop where the European Commission is finalising an initiative to pass a directive on copyright. The European Parliament is also preparing its opinion on the directive, which will impact on the work of teachers, students, professors, academics and researchers, and the final adoption lies with the Council of the EU.

EUIPO: crucial involvement of teachers

Teachers must be trained to use materials with knowledge about copyright, said EUIPO’s Justyna Petsch.

She highlighted how her organisation and its partners work both at policy level, ensuring competencies for lifelong learning, and at a practical level – a lot of materials is available.

Speaking about broadening the work of EUIPO by working with the education sector, Petsch highlighted the EUIPO’s “IP in Education” network. The network brings together education stakeholders and intellectual property organisations.

EFEE: a balanced EU directive on copyright

Daniel Wisniewski, General-Secretary of the EFEE, insisted on the need for an EU directive striking a good balance between the rights of content authors and the rights of content users. He also noted that education needs to be empowered with modern tools and that, as knowledge is widely available, creators of this knowledge must be remunerated.

COMMUNIA: copyright issues a dimension of education policy

Aleksander Tarkowski, Director of COMMUNIA, agreed on the importance of having a “flexible copyright” balanced between creativity and innovation in Europe. “In the copyright debate, the voice of educators, researchers and academics is needed,” he said. “So is the voice of ministries.” He was adamant that copyright issues must be seen as a dimension of education policy.

EI: fair interaction

Education International (EI) Deputy General Secretary Haldis Holst also underlined “if you are closing intellectual property, you are closing access to quality education, so you have to find a fair way of interaction”.

European Commission: upcoming EU copyright directive

Delivering the keynote speech, Thomas Ewert, Legal and Policy Officer in the Copyright Unit at the European Commission’s Directorate General CONNECT, explained the upcoming EU Directive on copyright. This is part of a copyright modernisation package adopted on 16 Sept 2017, and he outlined the impact this directive will have on copyright in the education sector.

He explained the exception planned for digital uses of protected content to illustrate teaching, including across borders, to provide full legal certainty to educational establishments and teachers.

ETUCE: risks induced by privatisation

Susan Flocken, European Director of the ETUCE, drew participants’ attention to the fact that copyright and intellectual and creative property rights are relevant topics not only in higher education and research, but at all levels of education.

Access for teachers to quality teaching material is key to quality education, and the voice of teachers and their unions is crucial therein, she said.

Reaffirming that education is a public good and a human right, she also pointed out the risk of privatisation and commercialisation in education, as it jeopardises the teaching environment of those teaching and those learning. “Education is not a product for market; we must promote access to quality materials and quality teaching tools.”

Other topics covered by this high-level global conference included:

· The diversity of copyright models in Europe and beyond: pros and cons

· Towards a balanced EU Copyright directive for quality higher education and research

· The position of education trade unions on the Copyright reform at EU level

· Copyrights and Copywrongs in Europe

· The position of the European Parliament on the Copyright reform

· The position of students’ unions on the Copyright reform at EU level

Participants also tackled the following themes during breakout sessions: information and awareness raising activities among teachers and students: how to reduce copyright infringements, ensure legitimate access to materials and increase legal clarity; higher education teachers and researchers as users of copyrighted works; and teachers and researchers as creators of copyrighted works.

More on policies on copyright and education can be found here.

The EI Resolution on Copyright is available here.

You can also re-watch the conference live stream here.

Pictures from the conference can be found here, and the ETUCE Statement on Copyright in the Digital Single Market here.

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