Thing 19: The Legal Side of Things

copyrightI’m really glad this week’s topic is exploring the legal side of copyright and would also like to add a massive thanks to Caroline for her informative blog post which I think is a fantastic introduction to some of the issues to be aware of (I’m also reminded at this point how useful the Rudai 23 pinterest board is for collating all of this invaluable information). Without meaning to summon angry librarians with pitchforks to my door, I have to admit that it was only since I started my graduate traineeship that I ever even considered ensuring a work is referenced properly / checked for restrictions (excluding University essays!).

In an effort to redeem myself – I will point out that it is a topic I’ve found extremely interesting since I became aware of it. It became particularly prevalent almost a year ago, last October / November when a campaign called “#Catch 2039” was rippling through museums, archives, libraries and cultural institutes last year. You can read my blog post from last year about it here. I’ll sum it up briefly by explaining that tensions rising in the arts and heritage sector climaxed as the centenary of World War I approached and institutions across the country were prevented from displaying relics of the period. This was a sad thing for lots of institutions because they were severely restricted in curating and displaying material; many amazing artefacts like letters and journals were not permitted to be used and so remained gathering dust under lock and key away from public sight. Many establishments like the British museum for instance highlighted the issue by displaying empty display cases with a note saying:

“In this display there would have been *a letter from a First World War solider to his sweetheart*. Because of current copyright laws, in this instance, we cannot display the original. Join the campaign to free our history. We must reduce the term of copyright of unpublished works from 2039 to lifetime plus 70 years”.

It's a  tricky thing to police and it's admirable that organisations like WIPO (which I believe CILIP were granted "observer status" to last year) are in place to establish fair practice. Whilst Caroline's post highlighted the protection that artists and creators are rightfully experiencing, the #Catch2039 campaign reminds us of the flip side and the hindrances that can be caused by copyright laws which don't serve their society most efficiently.

When I look back to my university days and recall how seriously plaigerism was taken and how important proper referencing was, I feel silly for not considering that other media forms were similarly proptected. I do think this highlights the need for better education in schools about this - I certainly don't remember ever being taught anything about it and considering the evolution of the internet and media sharing, guidelines need to be taught to young people. Perhaps this is now a aprt of the curriculum, i'd be interested to know what "Subject" this would fall under.

Throughout my posts I've used a mixture of my own photographs, some off of my university stock photos database and admittedly, nearer the beginning, some from Pinterest. I wholeheartedly admit that in none of the above scenarios have I checked thouroughly enough, the implications of copyright law. I have been making some very niave assumptions! Now I reflect on this I just don't think I viewed images on sites like pinterest to hold the same rules as one you'd get in a book. I feel really silly admitting this now! 

I also made an assumption about the database of images that my university provides for its students - I wrongly assumed that because we can use them we don't have to worry about citing them but I must check if this is the case. 

Reading the terms of the creative commons highlighted an interesting point which I'd certainly never thought of before - protecting my own images which I use on my blog. To be honest I don't really think I mind people re-using my sunset images if they wish, I'm happy for the beauty of my area to be perpetuated but it's certainly something I didn't consider before now.

This "thing" has been a real learning curve for me, it's certainly changed my perspective for the better and I will continue to bear in mind the importance of re-using the intellectual property of others a little more mindfully. I'm a little gutted that the reference must be directly beneath the image, perhaps there's a way around this. I must investigate further! For now though I've had a quick flick around on some of the creative commons sites and have familiarised myself with the terms - using these two images has given me a bit of practice - I got the first one from the commons courtesy of the Welcomme Library and the first was from pixabay and didn't require any attribution.
V0010962 A angry mob of villagers protesting outside the house of a d Credit: Wellcome Library, London. Wellcome Images A angry mob of villagers protesting outside the house of a doctor, he responds by squirting a syringe at them. Watercolour. Published: - Copyrighted work available under Creative Commons Attribution only licence CC BY 4.0

V0010962 A angry mob of villagers protesting outside the house of a d
Credit: Wellcome Library, London. Wellcome Images
A angry mob of villagers protesting outside the house of a doctor, he responds by squirting a syringe at them. Watercolour.
Published: –
Copyrighted work available under Creative Commons Attribution only licence CC BY 4.0


Thing 17: Reflective Practice

photoI first saw the Rudai23 things blog through another participant’s blog whom I was already following. Aside from looking fun and interesting I thought it would be a great way to really push myself to learn about all of the Web 2.0 tools that can enhance learning, professional development and personal organisation / current awareness. I spend 90% of my time at work keeping lawyers abreast of the developments in their industry so why should I not strategically plan how to do the same for myself? Additionally I thought it would be a great way to ease me in to the routine of learning and evaluating right before starting my masters next week (eek!).

My main concern initially was the practicality of whether or not I had time to commit to this; one of my pet hates is people committing to something without being realistic about what is involved and then flaking out halfway through. My reasoning here was that if I’m going to learn how to fit a master’s degree around my full time job then I should be able to time manage this relatively small to medium personal side project. Another preconception I was fostering before beginning the course was the worry that I would be held back by my questionable state of affairs regarding technology and money (or lack of) in order to complete all tasks but the course has been constructed to allow pretty much any one with access to a computer to participate so that this really hasn’t been an issue. The only time I have been slightly let down was my inability to participate in the Google hangout. I don’t have broadband at home and rely on coming into work early to use the computers in my pre-work “breakfast power hour”. I do have an I phone to my advantage though and have found it an invaluable device throughout the process; it means that I can maximise my efficiency and work on tasks en route each day. As a person who spends roughly two hours every day commuting it’s crucial for me to use this time effectively.

I feel really positive about the time management skills I have honed and have found a routine that works for me which allows me to incorporate spending time each week on the “thing” at hand. There have been some things that I’ve felt very confident with; as a product of the social media generation, I have been reminded throughout both my educational and professional career how important building a good professional brand is. Recruiters and employers alike have advocated the integral nature of, not only to having a “clean” profile but also one that demonstrates your interests in the profession. I’ve found that my increasing interaction with online professional networks and my gradual cultivation of my professional brand has now left me in a position where despite my status as a (for now) unqualified information worker in an assistant role, I still feel that I have valuable opinions that are worth sharing across professional networks. To put it plainly, my participation in this course has really boosted my confidence.

In the weeks where we’ve explored things like library advocacy and membership to professional bodies / attending professional events my perspective has changed. For the handful of events I’ve attended prior to now, though I’ve enjoyed them and done my best to reflect proactively and learn from the experience, I’ve always had the sneaking feeling at the back of my mind that I’m not a fully fledged professional yet and therefore I’m cheating by being there. I’ve worried about my cover being blown and that people will find out I’m not a “real” information professional and the game will be over! Being a part of the Rudai 23 community has made me realise not only how friendly librarians are but what a diverse bunch we are;  different job roles and different levels of experience make for the most interesting conversations! As a newbie I may lack the experience that many others possess but sometimes a fresh perspective can be just as valuable. In future I hope to remember this and remind myself if I’m ever feeling a little vulnerable in a professional context: it’s so much better to put yourself out there for the gains rather than justify keeping your mouth shut for fear you’ll look weak.

Specifically I’ve enjoyed learning about some quite technical things which I probably wouldn’t have had the confidence to do without being prompted; the creation of your own augmented reality campaign is something I’ve been massively inspired by and i’m waiting for the perfect opportunity to put it into practice. The screencast software was a great thing to get to grips with too and whilst I doubt it will prove relevent in my job, it’s great to know it’s out there as you never know what you might be doing in the future. Podcasts have opened up a whole new world to me; I was aware of its existance but I’ve now been exposed to one more way to digest specialised and interesting content. Cumulatively one of the biggest benefits of learning about some of these platforms is that in addition to the learning process of the course, I feel like I’ve done a “digital audit” of my general online life and I’ve done a spring clean – I’ve got rid of the services / accounts that I feel no longer serve me and I’ve consolidated my favourite online content (whilst simultaneously discovering new stuff to) into an organised format that works for me.light at the end of the tunnel

I’ve identified that one of my downfalls is paying attention to liscencing terms regarding images. I hope I don’t make too many enemies out of admitting this (I know it’s a hot topic amongst librarians) but I’m still relatively new to being conscientious about what images I use and exactly how I accredit them. It’s duly noted as something to work on and I’m sure I’ll learn all of the intracies with my masters in Information Management.

In broader terms I think I’ve realised throughout the hours I’ve put into this course that the more you put into something the more you get out. There have been certain tasks where I haven’t put too much time into it and I’m the first to admit it, I can at least counteract the negativity of that by saying that this has been an active choice – time is a valuable resource and we should be mindful how we use it. Everyone has constraints and the more we’re aware of that the more we can mindfully choose how we distribute what we do have. For the “things” that I was already very familiar with (like Twitter, Facebook, Goggle) I put more time into the reflection and the blog post than I did the actual exploring of the platform but still I didn’t over-do it. For the weeks where everything was new to me I was far more generous with my time, I wanted to make the most of the opportunity I had (“opportunity” being 260 other librarians all pushing their oars in the same direction paddling unified into the current of th unknown!”).

I’d like to add that this very “thing”, thing 17 has actually been one of the tasks I’ve put the most effort into. Stephanie’s detailed evaluation of how refelction is a strategic self improvement proccess really motivated me to use this opportunity to assess my learning on a deeper level. I think this can be applied to anything we learn in life. I’ll round this off with a lovely little anecdote about a TED talk I listened to the other day; It was John Green talking about his novel Paper Towns (which I believe is being made into a movie right now). I certainly wasn’t drawn to the podcast because of the author or the book; I’ve never read any of his books but it was the title that hooked me “John Green: The Nerd’s Guide to Learning Everything”. Ok so spoiler alert – listening to this podcast will not teach you how to learn everything i’m afraid. Instead Green gives a brief introduction to the origin of the title of his book. He talks about a map that The General Drafting Company of New York made in 1937. He aludes to a trick that mapmakers use in order to identify breach of copyright – he explains that they make up the name of a place which doesn’t exist and if they see it on another map they know that person has copied their map. The Gernal Drafting Company used this on their 1937 map of New York and created a fake town called Agloe. Decades later a guy caled Rand McNally makes a map with Agloe and it seems he’s caught red handed. But it turns out that what had happened is that so many people had seen this famous map and visited this spot that Agloe manifested itself as a real place, an actual town – businesses, shops and cafes sprung up around this once fictional coordinate that it turned from being fictitious to reality. After musing a while about his own experiences of learning Green argues that cartography is like learning; we sail to a land and absorb it and then we’re curious about what is over the next small part of ocean so we sail over there and add this new place to the map and progressively we start building our own map of knowledge. I used to think at school that there was a capacity of information in the world, that one day If I worked hard enough I would know everything there was to know and I guess if I tie this to the map metaphore, I thought that the map was already in place and that all I had to do was visit everywhere eventually. But knowledge is a beautiful yet slippery thing and as John Green metaphorically says (yes, if you’ve made it this far I promise the map metaphors will be over soon) we are all cartographers of our own unique learning maps.

Well Rudai23- thanks – I’ve really enjoyed the journey.

(You can watch the full talk here).


Save Our History #Catch2039


Earlier in the year, we saw museums, libraries, archives and educational establishments benefit from a re-evaluation of copyright law which were newly accommodating, particularly in regards to media and digital materials. I saw first-hand in a visit to the Shakespeare Globe Theatre archives how researchers were restricted to viewing footage under supervision in the confines of the premises despite viewing for non-commercial use. Though the reforms have alleviated many of the problems learning institutes were facing as part of embracing the digital age, recent events have highlighted that more needs to be done to copyright laws in order for the UK to maximise the utility of its rich historical sources and wealth of information.

With the imminent approach of the centenary of Remembrance Day, museums, archives and libraries across the nation are curating and launching exhibitions in celebration of the momentous event. Existing copyright laws, however, currently stipulate that orphaned works such as diaries, letters and journals remain under protection and cannot be published until the year 2039 unless permission is given by the rights holder. These restrictions have hampered arts institutions nationwide by acutely prohibiting the exposition of valuable sources that give insightful, first-hand accounts of Britain’s social history throughout the Great War.

On Thursday 23rd October, The Chartered institute of library and information professionals launched a campaign soliciting the government to revoke these laws, applying for a minimised sentence of the author’s lifetime plus seventy years. A petition was created and social media platforms helped drive campaign. Twitter was at the forefront of the operation, encouraging advocates to promote the movement by signing the petition and quoting #catch2039. The operation was backed by many major UK institutions such as The National Museum of Scotland, The Imperial War Museum and The Collections Trust. CILIP advised that organizations with exhibitions leading up to November 11th should demonstrate their support by displaying blank sheets of paper with the following message captioning:

We would have liked to show you a letter from a First World War soldier here*. But due to current copyright laws we are unable to display the original. Those laws mean that some of the most powerful diaries and letters in our collections cannot be displayed. All that we ask is that copyright law is changed so that the duration of copyright in certain unpublished works lasts for the lifetime of the creator plus 70 years, rather than until the end of the year 2039. This would help us to give voice to more of the men, women and children who lived through some of the most turbulent times in our history. We want to tell their stories. Join the campaign to Free Our History by signing a petition at and by tweeting your support using #catch2039. – See more at:

On the Fourth November, Baroness Neville-Rolfe, the secretary of state for intellectual property at the department for business innovation and skills sent correspondence to Annie Mauger, the chief executive of CILIP detailing how the government agreed that the laws should be amended and that it would be prioritised in the lead up to the elections.

It certainly feels like this is a crucial time for The UK to be drawing level with the rest of Europe and indeed the world. The inability to not only celebrate but keep on teaching about World War One to a younger generation whose affinity with the event wares thinner with every decade is a very sad thing. We really should be seizing opportunities like this or alternatively face the risk of losing part of our heritage. I am certainly not implying that The Great War will be forgotten but circumstances such as this are only facilitating a loss of knowledge and therefore interest amongst the younger generation.

It seems ironic that whilst CILIP has progressed to achieve observer status at The World Intellectual Property Organisation and will be amongst those influencing the field of knowledge and information at an international level, The UK is still struggling with unaccommodating copyright laws that are tripping us up over the smallest and most unnecessary hurdles.