Research Blog Series: CopyrightUser.org

Copyright User’s Lead Producer Bartolomeo Meletti discusses the online copyright resource, for our Research Blog Series.


Project: CopyrightUser.org

Investigators: Bartolomeo Meletti, University of Glasgow (Lead Producer)
Martin Kretschmer, University of Glasgow (Chair of the Editorial Board)
Ronan Deazley, Queen’s University Belfast (General Editor, 2013-2016)
Maurizio Borghi, Bournemouth University (Editor)
Kris Erickson, University of Glasgow (Editor)
Dinusha Mendis, Bournemouth University (Editor)
Ruth Towse, Bournemouth University (Editor)

What did your research aim to do?
CopyrightUser.org intends to make UK copyright law accessible to everyone, with a view to helping creators make informed decisions and meaningfully participate in policy debates.

How did you do it?
In order to identify the knowledge needs of its audience and produce responsive guidance, the Copyright User research team has developed an innovative bottom-up methodology aimed at capturing the real-world concerns of the creative and cultural sectors. Examples of bottom-up research exercises include qualitative analysis of copyright questions and answers posted by users on Internet platforms, face-to-face semi-structured interviews with primary creators, and a series of sector-specific focus groups and workshops.

What are your key findings?
Most of the queries collected through these research exercises concerned how to lawfully reuse existing materials; and these knowledge needs were often confirmed by subsequent website analytics. For example, the top 15 search engine queries that led to a click on a CopyrightUser.org search result between 21 September 2016 and 21 November 2016 can all be organised into three categories: i) how to get permission to use a song; ii) use of copyright materials for educational purposes; and iii) what is the public domain.

What impact has your work had so far/what impact do you anticipate it will have?
Since its launch in March 2014, Copyright User has attracted over 300,000 unique users and generated more than 520,000 page views. By offering user-friendly guidance that is balanced, comprehensive, up-to-date, and responsive to users’ needs, CopyrightUser.org has established itself as the ‘most visited UK copyright information website’, as recognised by the ALCS. A wide spectrum of creative, cultural and academic organisations across the UK – including the Intellectual Property Office – advise their members or students to refer to CopyrightUser.org as useful guidance for copyright queries. The Copyright User animated film The Adventure of the Girl with the Light Blue Hair received the 2015 AHRC Innovation in Film Award.

The resource is being widely used both in the UK and internationally. For example, Copyright User has been used by Into Film to create ‘Exploring copyright for clubs’, has been included in the curriculum for the Web Reputation and Privacy course at the University of Bologna, and is used as teaching resource at the Université Saint-Louis (Bruxelles) and the Université catholique de Louvain. In 2016, CopyrightUser.org has been listed by the European Audiovisual Observatory as one of the top five Media Literacy projects in the UK since 2010. The Copyright User initiative has also had an impact on policy and was featured prominently in the report to the Prime Minister Copyright Education and Awareness, produced in October 2014 by Mike Weatherley MP in his capacity as Intellectual Property Adviser to the Prime Minister.

Challenges encountered/Lessons learned
The Copyright User initiative has faced three main challenges:

– Copyright is a complex and evolving subject.
– Copyright is often perceived negatively by the general public.
– Copyright is subject to a heated debate, often driven by myths and anecdotes.

We respond to these challenges by combining balanced, up-to-date and authoritative guidance with engaging and accessible multimedia resources that focus on positive messaging, encouraging public understanding as to what copyright enables and allows, rather than what copyright inhibits and prevents.

Are there additional/new research questions still to be answered in this area?
The Copyright User initiative is currently being extended through the AHRC Follow-On project Unlocking Co-Creative Possibilities, exploring whether the ability of creative entrepreneurs to generate value from co-creative practices can be improved by increasing their knowledge of the opportunities within copyright law.

How has your association with CREATe helped to take things forward?
The expertise and interdisciplinary research skills of various CREATe researchers have been invaluable in determining the success of the Copyright User initiative.

The Copyright User team has produced various digital resources to respond to the knowledge needs identified through the bottom-up research exercises, including:

The Game is On!
Going for a Song
Copyright in SMEs
Copyright Bites

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