It is well known that the rules that allow for certain educational uses of copyrighted works under certain conditions without permission of the rights’ owners vary greatly between countries. But how different are those rules? And how difficult is to access those differences? Can a teacher with no legal background determine alone whether a certain use is allowed or not in his/her country?

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We are answering these questions in a new working paper titled „Educational Resources Development: Mapping Copyright Exceptions and Limitations in Europe”, prepared by Teresa Nobre (Legal Lead of Creative Commons Portugal). The study is an investigation of the fragmented European landscape of copyright exceptions and limitations for educational purposes, across 44 European states.

We intend to understand the obstacles faced by teachers in each of the countries analyzed. The shape of L&Es translates into limits to the free usage of content in education – and the more complicated the rules are, the more difficult they are for educators to follow.

The Open Educational Resources model has been traditionally seen as avoiding altogether the standard copyright regulations, by relying on a voluntary, free licensing model that establishes broad user rights for educators. The fragmentation of L&Es further proves the importance  of open licenses for the development and dissemination of educational resources.

Yet it is impossible for educators and learners to rely just on OERs. As Creative Commons already stated, no matter how well crafted a public licensing model is, it can never fully achieve what a full set of open-ended and flexible statutory exceptions and limitations for educational purposes can. Only with a legal reform in place can we see an end to this balkanization of legal solutions and treat education as it deserves to be treated – as an exception to copyright and related rights.

We hope that the results of the study will provide evidence, within the current debate on copyright reform in Europe, for the need to further harmonize and strengthen user rights in education.

Read the full report.