Overcoming copyright hurdles in the development of learning materials in the digital era

K S Yuen, Linda Chow, Simon K S Cheung, K C Li and Eva Y M Tsang
The Open University of Hong Kong
Hong Kong SAR, China

Developing teaching or course materials poses many challenges, and copyright is one of them. This paper provides teachers and developers of learning materials with an overview of what they should know about copyright, and provides suggestions on ways to overcome copyright hurdles. Of importance is an understanding of the clauses on fair use and fair dealing under copyright law, as these legally permit reproduction of copyrighted material for certain purposes and circumstances without the need to apply for permission.

This paper also notes a changing copyright landscape and a growing culture of resource-sharing among the educational community. Teachers or developers of learning materials can now consider another option — accessing free digital learning materials which can be used, adapted and shared, without any copyright fees. The final part of the paper explores the use of some types of free online materials: works produced under the Creative Commons licence and public domain materials.