Jinfo BlogCopyright – it’s all about behaviour

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By Tim Buckley Owen

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‘Any contract can be breached and any technological fix can be overcome by someone really determined… The only framework that truly matters is behavioural.’ It’s an uncompromising start to FreePint’s much awaited survey on Copyright Policies and Practices (outline and link to executive summary available at http://web.freepint.com/go/about/press/4551, purchase details at http://web.freepint.com/go/how/copyright/). Focusing separately on information managers and end users, the survey notes some points of disconnect between the two. Over 90% of the infopros report that they are responsible for training and education in copyright matters, for instance – but only 59% of the end users say that they’d turn to information professionals for this purpose. The values of end users and information managers do not always ‘align gracefully’, the survey concludes. For instance, the end users tend to be more confident about their awareness and information-related skills than the information managers do – a confidence perhaps not justified by some of the practices the end users report. One intriguing reason information managers cite for copyright’s growing importance is the increase in work contracted out. But another is ‘high profile cases of infringement’ – something taken up by one of the report’s sponsors Dow Jones, which refers in its introduction to the legal action taken last year by another sponsor – the Financial Times – against the Blackstone Group (http://www.vivavip.com/go/e18994). So what opportunities for information professionals do FreePint’s findings present? One clue may come from comparing them with the ‘imperatives for information managers’ highlighted in an Outsell report last January, Copyright in the Era of Community, which aimed to find out how developments such as social networking had changed knowledge workers’ behaviours (purchase details at http://digbig.com/5bbhgw). ‘Information managers can’t be copyright enforcers’, Outsell suggested – yet restricting access to content is the commonest method for managing copyright that the information managers in FreePint’s survey report. All the same, many also mention the need to reduce restrictions as a priority for copyright practice moving forward. ‘Continue educating’ and ‘make friends with compliance or legal functions’ were two more pieces of Outsell advice, and here the FreePint findings are mixed. Nearly all the information managers report involvement with training and education – but fewer than half state that they are responsible for reporting around copyright. But Outsell’s top advice to information managers was: Manage to the bigger picture. ‘Managing rights for the organization can be a high value-add role especially in these times of change for the IM function’, it suggested. To judge from the interest that FreePint’s survey has generated (over 500 respondents) and the calibre of its sponsors (Dialog and the Copyright Clearance Center besides Dow Jones and the Financial Times) this is a real growth area. It looks like an opportunity to seize.

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