3 New Year’s Resolutions to Make Your Company More Copyright Compliant in 2019

The secret to making New Year’s Resolutions that can be stuck to throughout the year? Ground them in a core value, then break them into baby steps to make them achievable.

For your organization, consider resolving to make a firm commitment to copyright compliance in 2019.

This goal may already be closely aligned with your company’s core values. Copyright is all about protecting creative thinkers who power our economy with their innovations, and it has been a foundational part of American business with roots all the way back to the Constitution.

When it comes to following through on a resolution for making your organization more copyright compliant, sure, as copyright experts we could offer tips that completely overhaul the status quo. But the other half of a successful resolution is achievable steps.

So instead, we’re offering three attainable goals to strive for in 2019.

Resolution #1 – Develop (and Promote!) a Corporate Copyright Policy

Our top resolution, admittedly, will be the most time-consuming. But it also will be your best tool to teach employees about respect for copyright.

Developing a corporate copyright policy is an important step to inform your employees about compliant copyright practices, reducing copyright misconceptions and your risk of accidental infringement. Here at CCC, our recommendation is two-fold.

First, create a copyright policy. This is a document that provides guidelines for the use of your organization’s copyright materials, and identifies the steps employees should take to determine if copyright permissions are needed, and how to request and obtain them.

Not sure how to get started? Check out this blog post for more tips: Practical Steps for Creating a Corporate Copyright Policy

Second, keep that policy front of mind with onboarding and refreshers. It’s not enough to simply create a policy that sits in a drawer. Too often, organizations I speak with have a policy, but their employees have no idea what the policy entails or where it lives. Keep your policy front of mind with these steps:

  • Include your copyright policy in onboarding and training programs that are required when employees join the company
  • Create periodic reminders that the policy exists and where it can be found.
  • Issue announcements via email or your company’s intranet when new copyright laws, regulations or court decisions are brought forth (see Resolution #3!)

Resolution #2 – Commit to Learning More About Open Access

Open Access (OA) content isn’t going away any time soon – and with Plan S emerging in Europe, it’s likely more publishers will be transitioning to OA models.

From a copyright perspective, understanding different models of OA will be critical moving forward. Each OA model and Creative Commons license has different rules about how content can be used.

In a recent blog post, my colleague Christine McCarty outlined the challenges of using OA content:

“A great deal of open access content is published under a Creative Commons (CC) license. There are several flavors of CC licenses that indicate how the content can be used. Some of these licenses do not allow for commercial use, but they do not clearly define what commercial use is, and interpretation varies across publishers and across corporations consuming the content. Confusion can also arise between the types of commercial use, like individual research versus large-scale copying and distribution for Sales and Marketing purposes.”

Our advice? Always properly attribute the author, and read the terms and conditions to make sure you are responsibly using the content in a way that’s consistent with the open access license terms and your company’s compliance policies.

Learn More: Unlock More Content with Open Access

Resolution #3 – Stay on Top of Copyright in the News

Did you know the Music Modernization Act of 2018 became law this year? Or that Disney and Redbox battled in court?

Copyright law isn’t a theory in textbooks – it is a living part of today’s global economy. Sharing information about what’s happening in the world of copyright will help your organization take the risk of infringement seriously. Most employees recognize the risks and implications of copyright infringement (a study we conducted in 2016 had this figure at 76%).

But, without awareness to what’s happening in the news and in the courts, the risk that employees’ actions could have consequences is less of a reality.

Not sure where to start? Keith Kupferschmid of the Copyright Alliance rounded up some of the top copyright stories of 2018 here.

Now it’s your turn to tell us – what are you doing in 2018 to become more copyright savvy? Let us know in the comments below.

Check out Copyright Clearance Center’s Learning Resources:


Author: Liz Bilodeau

Liz Bilodeau is the senior manager of global alliances at Copyright Clearance Center working directly with our partners. Since joining CCC in 2005 she worked in a variety of roles at CCC managing both internal and external clients. She holds an undergraduate degree in management and marketing and has personal interests in publishing, life sciences and copyright.
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