helenlt on August 30th, 2013
Many of you are starting to take advantage of cloud computing services such as Dropbox, Cloudstor, Refworks, Google Drive and Evernote to make your research, study or teaching easier. Cloud services make it easier to access, share and collaborate, but as is often the case you need to consider copyright when using them. The biggest copyright issue around cloud service is uploading and sharing third party copyright material created by other people. Provisions in the Copyright Act that allow you to reproduce copyright material for your research or study or personal use do not allow you to share that material with other people.
So what are some of the dos and don’ts when uploading material? You can upload and share anything that you have created and in which you own copyright. You can share links to material on other websites (but be careful about sharing links to content that infringes copyright). If the material has been created as part of University business (and the University owns copyright in), you may be able to upload that. But you may need to think about other considerations such as confidentiality, privacy and records management. If the material is of a sensitive or confidential nature, it is not appropriate to use an external cloud service. The University has a policy on the use of Dropbox, which includes guidelines on its use. You can also see Explanation: Policy on Dropbox and University Information for further details. Many of these guidelines would apply to any cloud service.
If you are thinking about using the cloud for teaching purposes, you must comply with the requirements of the educational provisions in the Copyright Act. If your teaching material includes copyright material created by other people, you must follow the same requirements for making material available on the LMS. Importantly, you must ensure that this material can only be accessed by students. It cannot be made publicly available. This can be difficult in the cloud where access is often by the use of a single username and password shared with a group of people. Use of the LMS is preferable as students and staff must log on with their University username and password.
If you are planning to use the cloud for collaborating with other researchers, it can be a great way to share data and information but again you should only upload material that you or your fellow researchers have created and own copyright in. If you want to share copyright material such as journal articles and research papers, you should link to it instead. Copyright allows you to save a copy for your own research but it doesn’t allow you to share it. If you download articles from the Library’s electronic databases, they are for your own personal research. You can create a link to an article to share with University of Melbourne colleagues. Colleagues at other institutions will need to access the article through their own Library. Did you know that you can also set up a community on the LMS as a space to communicate and collaborate with colleagues?
When you register to join a cloud service, you will be required to agree to their terms of service. In most cases, under their terms, you grant the service a licence to reproduce and use the material that you upload. This is primarily to enable the service to run. For example, the cloud service needs to be able to reproduce the content you upload to make it available to you but you should also make sure that the terms of services do not grant rights to cover other activities, for example to the ability to sub-licence your content to others for commercial purposes.
If you’re still not sure about copyright and the cloud – it is a bit of grey area (sorry, couldn’t resist a bad pun!) – contact us for advice.