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Aspects of Law and Ethics Related to Technology

IPR Workshop/Conference 2006 - summary

March 2006

The IPR Workshop/Conference in E-Learning took place on the 21st March 2006 at the London office of the British Computer Society. It was organised by the Business Development Unit and co-ordinated by Dr Carlisle George (Middlesex University - School of Computing Science). The workshop was attended by more than 65 participants from all over the UK.

The day began with a short welcome by Professor Martin Loomes, Dean of the School of Computing Science, Middlesex University. Professor Loomes emphasised the importance of E-Learning and Intellectual Property Rights. He noted that E-learning made explicit, many areas of curriculum design that are typically left implicit in more traditional approaches and that IPR struck at the heart of education due to issues of ownership of knowledge and culture.

The keynote address Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) & Society: Issues & Challenges was given by Professor John Naughton, of the Open University, and member of the Royal Society of Arts Adelphi Commission.

Professor Naughton's address advanced two propositions namely: that the current IP regime is dysfunctional; and that failure to address its central contradictions will have damaging consequences for innovation, economic vitality and personal freedom. He pointed out that over the last few decades a serious imbalance had arisen in favour of rights holders, and that this now poses a serious problem for public policy. He explained that the problem is compounded by a number of factors, notably the tendency of legislatures to engage in evidence-free law-making in relation to intellectual property; the corrupting effect of concerted and well-funded lobbying on behalf of vested interests; and the lack of effective representation of the public interest in policy-making fora. Professor Naughton explored the consequences of biased or ill-considered IP legislation via an analysis of the chilling impact that the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) has had on scientific research and individual liberties. Finally, he examined possible ways of dealing with the crisis by considering what kinds of principles should govern future policy-making on IP, and by examining the roles and responsibilities of universities in the field of intellectual property.

The work shop included two interactive sessions. In the first (morning) session participants were able to put questions to a panel of speakers, and in the second (afternoon) session participants engaged in discussing various legal and ethical scenarios related to IPR.

Five presentations were given on the day, and are summarised below:

Professor Paul Bacsich (Middlesex University) gave a presentation on the Middlesex University Global Campus initiative, titled Managing IPR in a successful e-learning enterprise: The Global Campus, Middlesex University, UK. In his presentation he analysed the processes used by Middlesex University for managing the intellectual property aspects of the e-learning resources associated with the Global Campus. Further, he gave recommendations on IPR management in e-Learning enterprises that other UK universities might find useful to consider.

Mr John Casey (TrustDR Project Officer, UHI Millennium Institute), gave a presentation titled Getting Practical with IPR in E-learning which covered the potentially difficult and complex area at the intersection of technology, education, and the law. He started by presenting a short case study about the experience of managing IPR in e-learning from the JISC Learning to Learn (L2L) project and followed with a brief description of the work of the TrustDR project which addresses some of the problems raised by the L2L project.

Dr Carlisle George (Senior Lecturer, Middlesex University and Barrister) gave a presentation titled IPR - licences and other contracts for E-learning. His presentation gave a quick grounding in licences and other contracts which are used in the management of Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) in E-Learning enterprises. He categorised licences and identified different contracts based on the particular service or product. He also examined some important issues that different types of contract address, and attempted to give an understanding of these issues to authors and other actors involved in the E-Learning process.

Monique Ritche (Copyright and Digital Resources Officer, Brunel University), gave a presentation titled Managing IPR in the VLE at Brunel University : the implementation of the CLA scanning licence. She outlined issues affecting Brunel's implementation of the CLA licence, and provided practical advice on managing IPR issues in a Virtual Learning Environment (VLE). She also gave advice on other issues related to implementing the CLA licence such as Recordkeeping, Disseminating information, Managing workloads, Managing workflow and Storing digital copies.

Dr Penny Duquenoy (Senior Lecturer, Middlesex University) gave a presentation titled Ethical issues in IPR management. She examined the ethical impact of Intellectual Property management in the context of e-learning with regard to the principle of the "free spread of ideas for the moral and mutual instruction of man, and improvement of his condition". The presentation began with an overview of the different ethical issues raised by the idea of Intellectual Property in the context of e-learning, based on the principle that sharing knowledge via the 'spreading of ideas' is morally good. She stressed that as the mission of e-learning is to provide instruction leading to the improvement of those who receive it, the role played by IP management is of vital importance.

Workshop proceedings can be obtained from The Business Development Unit, Middlesex University, The Burroughs, London, NW4 4BT,or email: cs-bd@mdx.ac.uk (this includes an administrative fee of £10).

March 2006