Advocating for more OER-friendly copyright regulatory frameworks

I firmly believe that the pandemic crisis – and what many educational systems have gone through – will provide opportunities for countries to think seriously about a more systematic approach to education, openness and real development of Open Educational Resources (OER) in many languages, and cultural contexts.

Dirk Van Damme, Owner of DVD EduConsult, Former Head of CERI, OECD

The webinar discussed the following key questions:

  • How does the UNESCO OER Recommendation enhance international cooperation for universal access to information?
  • What can be done to support the development and enhancement of the legal and regulatory framework on copyright and policies for OER development?
  • What are examples of good practices, challenges and solutions where OER have supported the right to information and building of inclusive Knowledge Societies?

Along with the celebration’s sub-themes of promoting access to information laws and their implementation to build back resilience and highlighting the importance of international cooperation in the field of access to information, the webinar explored perspectives on regulatory frameworks related to copyright for educational materials.

With regard to the enhancement of international cooperation for universal access to information, Dr. Dirk Van Damme, Owner DVD EduConsult, retired Head CERI, OECD, underscored that the UNESCO OER Recommendation is an important and powerful tool for the international community and for international cooperation with a highly political and symbolic value. Dr Van Damme underscored the importance of system-level regulatory frameworks to support the implementation of the Recommendation.

Dr Maja Bogataj Jançiç, Founder and Head of the Intellectual Property Institute and Slovenian Creative Commons Legal Head, outlined the results of a study on Remote education during the pandemic – Teachers’ Perspective conducted in seven countries. This study provided insights to support the development of and enhancement of the legal and regulatory (national and institutional) framework on copyright and policies for OER development and revealed that in Europe, where connectivity and copyright laws are satisfactory, teachers have been able to use OER during the pandemic. This study showed content used by teachers is predominantly of non-commercial nature, or even peer produced.

Dr Carolina Botero, Executive Director of the Colombian civil society digital rights organisation, Karisma Foundation highlighted that the different dimensions of the digital divide encompasses both access to the Internet and digital skills. In addition to connectivity, the importance of regulatory frameworks that supported ‘openness’ was underscored. Dr Botero also highlighted in her intervention that the copyright provisions under the UNESCO Recommendation are important because they allow OER to be localised to better serve the needs of education.

In conclusion, the panel highlighted the need for a balanced copyright system for educational resources where open licensing and copyright exceptions for educational resources were present to support access to knowledge and learning.

Background

UNESCO’s Recommendation on Open Educational Resources (OER) is the only normative instrument in the field of technology and education. It identifies five areas for action:

  1. capacity building to create, access, reuse, adapt and redistribute OER.
  2. supportive policy.
  3. inclusive and equitable access to quality OER.
  4. sustainability models for OER; and
  5. international cooperation.

The OER Dynamic Coalition was created following the adoption of the UNESCO Recommendation on OER by Member States at the 40th session of the UNESCO General Conference in November 2019. The aim of the Dynamic Coalition is to support governments in the implementation of the OER Recommendation by promoting and strengthening international and regional cooperation among all stakeholders in the first four areas of the UNESCO OER Recommendation.

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