3a) Understanding and engaging with legislation

In this section I will reflect on my understanding of copyright, IPR and licensing legislation in the context of Higher Education, with a special focus on open licensing. 

Having worked in the domain of open education for over ten years, I have developed an in depth knowledge of intellectual property rights, copyright, and open licenses, and how these apply within the domain of Higher Education. 

As manager of the University of Edinburgh’s OER Service, part of my role is to help ensure that an understanding of copyright and open licensing is embedded in the University’s key strategic technology initiatives, including Lecture Recording, Learn Foundations, Academic Blogging and Online Course Production. This involves providing input to the development of policies and terms of service, in addition to raising awareness of the implications of copyright and developing digital skills resources for staff.  For example, when the university developed their new Lecture Recording Service in 2017, I was a member of the Implementation Steering Group, providing input on copyright and open licensing. When the service launched the following year, I co-authored this blog post, Don’t Panic! Content and Copyright for Lecture Recording [1], to answer questions and concerns relating to the use of copyright materials in recorded lectures. 

Along with my colleague Stephanie (Charlie) Farley I am responsible for designing and delivering the OER Service’s digital skills programme, which focuses on copyright literacy, open licensing and OER, and helps to equip staff and students with the knowledge and skills to confidently use and create open licensed resources, and to understand how, and in what context, they can use third party licensed content.  In 2020 in response to the COVID 19 pandemic and the move to hybrid teaching, I developed a new workshop Creative Commons Quickstart [2], for staff and postgraduate students, which provides a short convenient introduction to Creative Commons licences and their use in the University’s core tool set.  I still run this workshop on a monthly basis. I also answer open licensing queries from staff and students submitted directly to the OER Service and via the University’s Unidesk system.  In 2020 I also updated the How To Guides [3] on the Open.Ed website, which provide advice and guidance on understanding OER and open licenses, and finding, using and creating open licensed content.  These pages are among the most visited resources on the Open Ed website.

Screencap of Creative Commons Quickstart page

Creative Commons Quickstart, a digital skills session I developed and teach.

I provide advice and guidance to the University’s Online Course Production service to ensure that all content created for the University’s free short online courses can be shared under open licence. This has involved upskilling the service team to ensure they have a good working knowledge of copyright and open licensing as they relate to online course production, and answering more complex copyright queries that arise from time to time. 

I work closely with Education Technology Policy Officer Neil McCormick, to ensure that the University’s learning technology policies all have a consistent and transparent approach to copyright and licensing.  The approach taken is that everyone involved in the creation of a piece of content retains their own rights, while agreeing to license the  content for specific purposes that are clearly defined by the policies.  Neil and I presented and discussed the University of Edinburgh’s approach to copyright in recorded content as part of our presentation to the ALT Copyright and Online Learning During the COVID-19 Pandemic [4][5].  

We have also developed a suite of media recording permission forms, to ensure that students, staff, and external speakers who present guest lectures, contribute to MOOCs and free short online courses, or are recorded for promotional purposes, have a clear understanding of where copyright resides, how and by whom their content will be used, and whether it will be shared under open licence [6].  

In order to keep abreast of developments in the sphere of copyright legislation I am a member of a number of specialized groups and communities including the ALT Copyright and Online Learning SIG and the Creative Commons Open Education Platform.  I also follow COMMUNIA’s copyright reform campaigns.  Where relevant I use social media to share and disseminate discussions and information raised by these groups.  For example in 2020 I live tweeted and blogged a presentation by Creative Commons’ Brigitte Vézina as part of ALT’s Copyright, Fair Dealing and Online Teaching at a Time of Crisis webinar series [7]. 


Although I am fully committed to promoting the benefits and affordances of open licences in Higher Education, it’s important to have a balanced understanding of the strengths and weakness of open licences and critical awareness of the limitations of their use. Because openness is highly complex and contextual, it’s important that we continually question what it means to be open, whether openness is always a good thing, and when and in what circumstances it may not be appropriate to share content under open licence.  

For example, although I work closely with the Online Course Production service at the University of Edinburgh to ensure that all content created for the university’s free short online courses is open by default, there are circumstances where the use of open licences is not appropriate.  One such instance is the Sharia Law MOOC, where there were valid concerns that video materials created for the course could be used in potentially harmful ways if taken out of context.  

I was particularly struck by Rajiv Jhangiani’s OERxDomains21 keynote where he cited an example, highlighted by Tara Robertson, of an instance where openness raised troubling ethical issues.  When the lesbian porn magazine On Our Backs was digitised and released under CC BY licence, women who had modelled for the magazine felt that work they had created for their own community had been appropriated for uses they had never intended and did not consent to. As someone who is passionate about knowledge activism and the representation of queer history in open culture, this gave me pause for thought, particularly as I had recently created a Wikipedia entry for a similar magazine. I contacted Tara to ask her permission to cite her work and later in the year I discussed this case and the wider implications of sharing queer culture under open licence as part of an invited presentation for the University of Liverpool on Knowledge Activism: Representing the History of HIV and AIDS activism on Wikipedia [8]. 

In order to explore these issues further I joined the Creative Commons working group on the Ethics of Open Sharing, one of four international working groups established by the Creative Commons Copyright Platform. I participated in regular meetings of the working group and contributed to the outputs and recommendations created by this group – Beyond Copyright: the Ethics of Open Sharing [9].  I believe that understanding and questioning the ethics of open licensing is a critical aspect of open education and I hope to continue engaging in these discussions going forward. 


  1. Campbell, L.M. and Farley, S., (2018), Mini-series: Don’t panic! Content and copyright for lecture recording, Teaching Matters Blog. A blog post I coauthored to coincide with the launch of the University of Edinburgh’s new Lecture Recording Service. 
  2. Campbell, L.M., (2020), New Digital Skills sessions launching this week, Open.Ed Blog. Blog post introducing the new Creative Commons QuickStart session I developed. 
  3. Open.Ed How To Guides, which I re-wrote in 2020. 
  4. McCormick, N., and Campbell, L.M. (2020), The University of Edinburgh’s Virtual Classroom Policy.  Recording of a webinar where Neil and I discussed the university’s approach to copyright in recorded content.
  5. Campbell, L.M., (2020), Open Policy for Learning and Teaching, Open World Blog.  Reflection on the above webinar. 
  6. An example of a media recording permission form I developed in collaboration with Education Technology Policy Officer, Neil McCormick.
  7. Campbell, L.M., (2020), Creative Commons and COVID-19: A Brief Overview, Open.Ed Blog. Blog post I wrote to share points from Brigitte Vézina’s Creative Commons webinar. 
  8. Campbell, L.M., (2021), Knowledge Activism: Representing the History of HIV and AIDS activism on Wikipedia, Open World Blog. Transcript of a talk I gave for the University of Liverpool discussing the ethics of open licensing.
  9. Fraser, J., (2021), Beyond Copyright: the Ethics of Open Sharing, Creative Commons: We like to share Blog. Output of the CC Ethics of Open Sharing Working Group which I was an active member of.