Introduction: At first sight, the Clipper toolkit might seem to some like a source of legal problems for both its users and the owners of the online media. This is not the case, in fact the reverse is true, here we explain why.
Clipper can help both content owners and users to keep within the laws concerning Copyright and Intellectual Property Rights (IPR). Before we go further in this discussion we shall assume that the reader has read the ‘How it Works‘ section of this website. We shall also assume a basic understanding of what copyright law is – but don’t panic! We quickly explain that next.
The Legal Stuff: Now, we know that to many people copyright law is both difficult to understand and deadly boring! So, to help, we have identified some clear and easy sources of explanation about the legal issues that will help. First up is this excellent (and short) YouTube animation:
For bonus points you can also watch another video about ‘Fair Use‘ and download this PDF about IPR law in e-learning, that one of the Clipper team created for a UK government agency a while back, and if you are really keen you can check out these links:
Clipper Does Not Copy: The main thing to understand is that Clipper does not copy anything it just links to an existing web site to create its virtual clips. This is a big deal, because copying, as the name suggests, is what Copyright law is all about. Because of this there are a number of benefits for the content owners:
- The content never moves from their web servers
- Any access control to the content will stay in place when a clip is shared – so only those people with the right to access the content will be able to do so
- The web traffic will go to the content owners web site bringing with it benefits that may include expanding their audience, gathering analytic data, increasing social media footprint and possible monetisation opportunities (adverts, analytic data etc.)
- New ways of user engagement and potential new business models
We are not out of potential trouble yet, because there are other legal issues that we have to consider and we cover those next.
Doing the Right Thing: There are other legal factors besides copyright to consider and these are mostly related to moral rights:
- Misrepresentation of authorship (also known as ‘passing off’ in legal terms), where someone gives the impression (by accident or design) that they have created some content when they have not. Under the law a content creator has the ‘right to object to false attribution’ of their work.
- There are also the closely related issues of attribution. Where it is important to acknowledge who are the authors / creators of the media content – ‘known as the right of paternity’ and,
- Content creators also have the right to object to derogatory treatment of their work, known as the ‘right of integrity’ in legal terms
To deal with these issues we are ‘hard-wiring’ some features into the design of Clipper:
- To ensure that Clipper users can be identified and linked to each clip their user name appears under each clip preceded by the statement ‘Clipped by:’, this enables any complaints to be investigated effectively
- Reminders of these obligations are sent to Clipper users at regular intervals and short clear guidance materials are made available to users to support their responsible use of Clipper
A Legal Layer Cake: So, to sum up this section, the legal issues involved in using the Clipper toolkit involve different ‘layers’ of different people’s legal rights and obligations. The graphic below represents this. The top three orange layers are the Clipper user rights and the bottom two blue layers are the content owners and creators rights: