Posted in C21st Learners, CSU, Digital Citizenship, Digital Literacy, INF533, Library service, Social Media, Social networking for informational professionals, Teaching and Learning, Technology in Education

Considering copyright in digital environments


This post was completed for INF533- Literature in Digital Environments as part of my Masters of Education (Knowledge Networks and Digital Innovation) studies

As teacher librarians we are charged with the stewardship of school libraries and the resources within them. This stewardship translates to the task of ensuring the conservation, organisation and responsible use of information, cultural and physical resources. One core responsibility that falls under the umbrella of stewardship is understanding, protecting and teaching copyright. The Standards of professional excellence for teacher librarians, stipulate excellent teacher librarians will do this by: applying information management practices and systems that are consistent with national standards (Australian School Library Association [ASLA], 2004, standard 2.3); and modelling the sharing of knowledge within their community (ASLA, 2004, standard 3.4).

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights holds that “everyone has the right to the protection of the moral and material interests resulting from scientific, literary or artistic production of which he is the author” (United Nations, 2015, Article 27). Robert Levine argues that such protection of creators’ rights is well provided for by copyright (2013, 7min45sec). However, managing copyright in the digital age has become a very complicated and confusing arena that requires careful consideration for creators and consumers alike (Levine, 2013, 13min27sec). Issues facing teacher librarians in this area include copyright legislation, Digital Rights Management (DRM) and licensing agreements (Fitzgerald, 2015, para.1). In my school library, tasks impacted by copyright and digital platforms include the loaning of eBooks and audiobooks, the use of digital textbooks, digital video resources, software use, publishing content on the library website and social media accounts and educating teachers about fair use for resources uploaded to Moodle, the Learning Management System (LMS) used by our school.


While the stewardship of resources is important, most teacher librarians would consider the student and their learning as the primary focus of all that we do. For our students, copyright is something we need to teach if we are preparing them for successful futures, particularly as the workforce they are entering will require them to produce and publish content on websites and via social media. In these environments, it is essential that students understand their ethical and legal responsibilities when using the work of others. It is also important that they know what rights they have to their own creative content. One method of applying this knowledge to the classroom is requiring students to publish online because this carries attribution expectations beyond a bibliography. When students are required to find images and media licensed for reuse or create and license their own media, they begin to appreciate intellectual property and creative rights and the implications of copyright infringement. We have found that accessing resources that can be reused, shared or remixed via Creative Commons has been an essential skill. We also advocate students use the Creative Commons licensing tool to exercise control of their own creations. This, I believe, is a key literacy for the 21st century and only students are allowed to participate in digital environments, do they understand the connotations of ethical use.

Australian School Library Association. (2004, December). Standards of professional excellence for teacher librarians. Retrieved July 25, 2015, from
Fitzgerald, L. (2015). Literature in Digital Environments [INF533 Module 6.1]. Retrieved October 13, 2015, from Charles Sturt University website:…
Levine, R. (Director). (2013, January 31). Rovert Levine on copyright, content and the digital economy [Video file]. Retrieved October 10, 2015, from
United Nations. (2015). The universal declaration of human rights. Retrieved October 11, 2015, from

Image Attribution

Geralt, Email Keyboard Computer Copyright Author, CC0 Public Domain

Progressor, Creative Commons Licenses Icons By Sa Nc Nd, CC0 Public Domain



As the Curriculum Leader of the Mt Alvernia iCentre, my key areas of interest are: Teaching and Learning The information landscape Digital Literacy Digital citizenship Literature Reading

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