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Copyright Training for Staff task force tests CUL staff knowledge, supports Copyright Services

The Copyright Training for Staff task force (CTS) was one of several groups convened by the Scholarly Communications Working Group (SCWG) in 2018. In a survey distributed by SCWG at the end of 2017, CUL staff identified copyright training as one of the projects they’d be interested in the SCWG pursuing, and several volunteered to join the task force. The CTS team was led by Director of Copyright Amy Dygert, and also included Tabitha Cary, Jim DelRosso, Dianne Dietrich, and Caitlin Finlay.

The task force assembled for 90-minute monthly working meetings throughout 2018, charged with creating and administering a survey to CUL staff to test their knowledge of copyright.​ CTS didn’t want to make any assumptions about CUL staff knowledge, and in their day-to-day work task force members had witnessed a great deal of false confidence about copyright. By letting staff engage with questions about copyright, the task force would collect data that would either confirm what they’d seen anecdotally, or expose new trends for copyright training to address.

The task force reviewed several extant online quizzes for inspiration, and discussed their own personal experiences with gaps in faculty, staff, and student knowledge about copyright. This allowed them to categorize common copyright mistakes:

  • Copyright basics​
  • Public domain​
  • Fair use​
  • Exclusive rights​

CTS generated true/false questions about these topics and began work on the format of the quiz itself. Several different formats were tried and different quiz applications employed over a period of several months. During this time, the task force implemented two rounds of user testing with two different groups of CUL employees. The feedback received from those groups was crucial, with one of the most concrete reflections of that feedback being the inclusion of an “I don’t know” option on all questions. The task force wanted to make sure that a given true or false answer reflected real confidence on the part of the respondent, and felt it was important to word the questions so as to avoid “trickery” while accurately reflecting the law. Feedback from these tests also influenced the decision to move from Qualtrics to Google Forms, which provided an overall user experience that better fit the needs of the project.  

The final version of the quiz was deployed in July and August, to an enthusiastic response: 122 staff members took the quiz, representing 28% of CUL staff. The results confirmed the task force’s experiences from fielding colleague questions. For example, questions about copyright basics showed that staff had a general understanding that there are four different types of intellectual property, but were less knowledgeable about the details of each of those types. Similarly, it became clear that staff could benefit from training on topics including Creative Commons, the exclusive rights of copyright owners, and the University Counsel directive that CUL staff cannot tell a patron when fair use applies. 

Ultimately, the need for comprehensive copyright training for staff exists, and based on the original SCWG survey, the response to the CTS survey, and feedback received when these results were presented to the November R&O Forum, there is great enthusiasm and interest among staff for such training. In the coming year, the Copyright Services team will implement quarterly training sessions whose content will be informed by the task force’s work. The Copyright Training for Staff task force will also continue into 2019, providing support for that training, as well as looking at library websites that address copyright in order to ensure that staff are providing accurate guidance through those venues.


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