‘Cloud computing’ is a term used to describe the delivery of computing services such as software, data access and data storage facilities over the internet rather than through a personal computer or location server. This enables users to access applications and data on-demand through a web browser regardless of their physical location or device (PC, notebook, iPad or mobile phone).
It is likely that you have already used some form of cloud computing. Web-based email services like Outlook, Gmail and Yahoo! Mail, are common examples of cloud computing. The email service is not attached to any computer, but exists virtually and can be accessed remotely at anytime. Another example of a cloud service is Google Docs. It allows users to create, edit, store and share documents in real time online.
Cloud delivery models
There are a number of cloud delivery models that differ depending on who can access and utilise the cloud services and infrastructure. For example, some clouds will only be available for use by one organisation (private/internal cloud) while others will be shared with other organisations and/or members of the public (public cloud). Microsoft, Amazon and Google provide public cloud services. A combination of a public and private cloud can also exist and is known as a hybrid cloud.
Cloud and copyright
Cloud computing is not dissimilar to many digital products already used in schools and TAFE. Such technologies include intranets, content/learning management systems and media libraries. Indeed, many of these products can be accessed remotely by teachers and students through a web browser. While the IT infrastructure behind these services may vary, these technologies all provide a digital space where content can be stored, accessed and shared among a group of people.
Using digital content repositories
There are special licences and exceptions in the Australian Copyright Act 1968 that allow teachers to copy and communicate other people’s copyright material on digital repositories. In order to determine whether these licences and exceptions apply to your use, you will first need to determine copyright ownership in the content.
If you are using material that:
- is your own original work created in the course of your employment and does not contain any material created by a person who is not an employee of your department/administering body or
- was developed by your department/administering body and does not contain material that was created by a person who is not an employee of the department/administering body,
you do not need to rely on the special provisions in the Copyright Act to use this material. This is because the department/administering body owns the copyright in this material.
However, you must always label the material properly. For example, if it is your own original work created in the course of your employment, you must include details of your school/TAFE, year and the department/administering body.
eg Created by Mount Pritchard Public School, NSW Department of Education and Training, 2009
If the material is from the department/administering body, you must state that the material was created by the department/administering body, where it was sourced from and when it was sourced.
eg Created by the Catholic Education Commission NSW, accessed through the Commission’s intranet, 2009
Third party material
For all other material that is not owned by your department/administering body, you will need to rely on either:
- permission from the copyright owner or
- special education licences and exceptions in the Copyright Act.
Permission from the copyright owner
If you have permission (known as a licence) from the copyright owner you can use the material within the scope of that permission. You should check that the permission allows you upload the material to your content repository and make it available to your intended audience, such as teachers, students and parents.
Check how the copyright owner wants to be attributed, and make sure you attribute the material clearly beside each use of the material.
Statutory licences and exceptions
Link to and bookmark websites
Linking is not a copyright activity under the Copyright Act. This is because you are not actually ‘copying’ any material, rather just providing a path to its location on another website. As a result, providing links to material on external websites is a good way of managing copyright.
Bookmarking websites is a good way of saving and sharing links to websites.
It is generally not necessary to seek the permission of the website owner when creating a link to their website. However, it is important to include an acknowledgement of the source website. The form of acknowledgement that is appropriate will depend on the circumstances. For example, if you are linking to a useful resource and you know the author of that resource, you may wish to include an acknowledgement such as “Mary Smith from X school has provided a useful summary on Y’s webpage”.
Embedding a link allows the user to view and access content as it sits in its original location without having to leave their website (e.g. blog or wiki) or intranet. It is commonly used for displaying online films, eg YouTube films, on websites.
Embedding involves copying the HTML code of the film, which is often displayed in a box near the film, and pasting it onto your website. The result of this is, rather than displaying the link, it will show a small screen of the film on your website.
The primary advantage to embedding material is that you do not need to copy the material in order to make it available on your website. Further, embedding is a good way to ensure that students only access the specific material you want them to see on a website, as opposed to accessing an entire webpage which may contain other material not appropriate or relevant to class exercise. It also means that the students do not leave the school/TAFE content repository (eg class wiki or blog) in order to see that material.
‘If you use the YouTube Embeddable Player on your website, you must include a prominent link back to the YouTube website on the pages containing the Embeddable Player’
Use ‘free for education’ material
In some cases, the copyright owner has already given their permission for a teacher to use their material. When this happens, this material is known as ‘free for education’.
The advantages of using free for education material include:
- It is free – the department/administering body does not pay for the use of this material by teachers.
- There are no mandatory notice requirements (although there are still obligations to properly attribute the material).
Access to this material does not generally need to be restricted to students and teachers. Therefore, free for education material can be used on content repositories which are open to the public.
A lot of free for education material is available under a Creative Commons licence.
Limit how much you use to what is necessary
For material that is copied and communicated under the statutory licences or exceptions, it is important that teachers limit how much is used to what is necessary for their educational instruction purpose.
Your department/administering body pays considerable fees for the use of material under the statutory licences. To assist in managing these fees, copying of other people’s material should be restricted to only what is required for educational purposes.
Limit access to the material
Access to material copied and communicated under the statutory licences or exceptions should be limited to those students who need to use the material for class or homework exercises. For example, limit access to one class of students rather than the entire school/TAFE institute.
Remove/archive material from the repository once it is no longer required
Material copied and communicated under the statutory licences is paid for again every 12 months. This is because another ‘communication’ of the material is deemed to have occurred. This is known as anniversary copying.
Regularly archiving digital content repositories is a good way of managing anniversary copying costs. There are two ways this can be done:
- Automatic archiving of material
Material that is not currently being used for educational purposes but is likely to be used in the future should be archived.
Archiving involves moving the material into a closed area on the digital repository or elsewhere online where it can only be accessed by one person, such as the school/TAFE librarian, ICT Manager or teacher who uploaded the material to repository in the first place.
- Deleting material from the repository
Material that the school/TAFE no longer requires for educational purposes should be completely deleted from the content repository.
This will assist in minimising the storage burden on the school as well as ensuring that the school/TAFE is not incurring anniversary copying fees for material it no longer needs.