UK: Report Suggests Who May Own Online Lectures After Universities Want to Reuse Materials


DECEMBER 3, 2021

Another round of strikes over pensions, pay, and working conditions, from the staff of 58 universities in the United Kingdom took place on December 1. While preparing for strikes, universities pointed out that they would like to reuse online teaching materials that have been recorded during the COVID-19 pandemic.

However, following strikes, a new report from the Higher Education Policy Institute (HEPI) has revealed that legally the copyright for the online teaching materials is likely to belong to lecturers in the first instance.

On the other hand, regarding universities’ license to reuse lecture recordings, the report points out that it depends on what was agreed when recordings were produced, reports.

“Many universities’ IP policies claim ownership and/or licensing rights over the online teaching materials that their staff develop. However, because of the increased breadth of online materials created throughout the pandemic, and the increasing prevalence of online teaching more generally, universities should revisit these IP policies to consider whether they are still fit for purpose,” HEPI’s report notes.

Furthermore, according to the report, lecturers who are uncertain about the use of their materials should consider drawing more explicitly on their research during their lecturers in order to strengthen their IP claim over teaching materials.

Director of Policy and Advocacy at HEPI and author of the report, Alexis Brown, said that universities should think before considering reusing old lectures recordings to reduce the impact of the recent strikes.

According to her, universities should also consider revaluation of their IP policies if they “are still fit for purpose.”

“It would be in everyone’s interests, including the interests of students, to ensure that these policies are developed collaboratively and iteratively as more teaching is delivered digitally. Students would benefit from a greater culture of trust between academics and university management on this issue,” Brown added.

According to a recent survey by University and College Union (UCU) involving 18,000 respondents, 48.8 percent said that their institutions have been planning to move to remote teaching of some courses, including recording of sessions.

Members of the University and College Union at 58 universities started three days of strike on December 1, disrupting classes at some universities across the United Kingdom.

Some of the reasons for the strike are low pay, job insecurity, and working conditions. Universities UK said that the strikes are “deeply frustrating”, however, students have expressed support for the actions.