When you design content for a virtual course, you must take into account that the material, being available digitally, can be very easily reproduced or shared by your students through the Internet; so it is necessary to protect the content by various means. In this article I will tell you about some ways you can safeguard your rights.
First it is important that when you create the content for the course, you yourself respect the rights of other authors, for example that you follow the rules for citing sources, respect the rights to sounds, videos, logos, images and any other material that you take as reference to build your own.
It would not make much sense, trying to protect content that is not yours, on which you do not own the rights to use. What’s more, you could get in trouble if you use material without permission and register it as your own.
It is important to mention that there are technological digital forms to protect your content, as well as legal means that protect your rights over the creations you make for a virtual course.
In this article I will focus more on copyright protection through the use of licenses or registrations, but I do not want to miss the opportunity to mention some ideas that are used to protect some material digitally.
A very common way of protecting material is through software, which, for example, disables the copying of documents or images when accessing the institution’s LMS. In other words, it allows viewing the content, but not copying it and can even restrict its downloading.
A classic example is working with a PDF document where the user is allowed to read and even print the document; but the option to “mark” text and even use the right button of the pointer or mouse to display editing options is disabled. In this way the user of the virtual course can read the document but not copy it, at least not so easily.
Another idea that is very simple to apply, to protect your virtual content, is the use of a watermark, where your name or the logo of the institution where you work is displayed, for example. This will make those who copy the content know the origin of the original author.
Going directly into the matter, if you talk about the use of licenses or registrations to protect your rights as an author, you must take into account the legislation of each country; In Guatemala, there is the Law on Copyright and Related Rights, Decree 33-98, which protects matters relating to the creation of works of all kinds, both by individuals and legal entities.
Specifically in Guatemala, a procedure must be carried out before the Registry of Intellectual Property; In a brief summary of the process you should:
Complete a few forms with the details of the author and the creation made, make the payment of fees for carrying out the procedures and registrations, which in reference to audiovisual content or computer programs is around GTQ400 to GTQ500. Submit a sworn statement in a notarial act and a copy of the material created.
It is important to mention that the Regulation of the Law on Copyright and Related Rights in its articles 39 and 108, according to what is expressed by the Property Registry, mentions that “The protection granted by law is granted to works from the moment of its creation, regardless of the merit, destination or mode of expression, but for its registration and deposit to proceed, it is required that it has been fixed on a material support”.
It must be taken into account that the latter applies to registration in Guatemala, depending on the country from where you read this article, the conditions may change; I advise you that if you are interested in registering any creation or work, consult the current legislation in your region.
Due to the enormous growth of the internet and the millions of existing creations that are around hundreds of pages, a more modern alternative to copyright applied to new technologies was born in 2001, Creative Commons licenses.
Creative Commons is a non-profit entity interested in protecting copyrights and also in regulating the way different creations are shared and used on the internet. From here arises the creation of licenses that contain certain rights and permissions summarized in a series of icons that allow an easy way to know the properties in terms of rights of the creations.
These licenses, according to the page creativecommons.org itself, “form a balance within the traditional scenario of all rights reserved.” It is an easy and standardized way to grant rights permissions on the creations made, in the digital field.
It presents the advantage that it allows sharing the created material, disclosing the permissions to copy, share or the way in which the creation can be used. It is important to note that it applies to documents, images, audio and all digital creations.
These licenses fit very well when it comes to sharing material in virtual courses, the types of existing licenses arise from the mixture of these parameters:
Attribution: implies that the author’s name must be mentioned.
Non-Commercial: means that it cannot be used for commercial or profit activities.
No Derivative Work: The creation cannot be changed or transformed to generate a new one.
Share Alike: If another creation is going to be generated, it must be kept under the same license as the source.
Starting from a series of questions, quite simple to answer, the user can determine the characteristics that he grants to his creation. On the Creative Commons page itself, a symbology is generated that groups the conditions of use of the work. On this same page, the author of the creation can register metadata that can be added through HTML code.
The created icon can be placed on the created material, to indicate to users that it is copyrighted and the options granted for its use.
Remember that just as we like them to respect our rights and recognize us when we create some material or work, we also have to be respectful of the rights of others.
Especially if you work as a teacher, designer, instructor, programmer or any figure within the educational process, you should always lead by example by being respectful of copyright and recognizing the effort of another person in their virtual creation.
Do you find it interesting to protect your intellectual creations? Have you done the creative commons license generation process? We would like to read your experience and opinions.