How copyright affects educators on a daily basis

Educators need copyright that fits the needs of education. COMMUNIA advocates for policies that expand the public domain and increase access to and reuse of culture and knowledge. COMMUNIA created the rightcopyright campaign to ask for support for a better copyright for education by collection petitions. In six weeks we have collected over 4000 signatures. Decision-makers often ask us to show the real life struggles people have with copyright. It is often difficult to understand how copyright affects people on a daily bases. We encouraged educators to share the problems they face when dealing with copyright at We would like to share these stories with you to show why we need a better copyright for education.

Still wondering why we need better copyright for education? Listen to the educators!

  1. Education is a public good

“Every day as a researcher, even in one of the wealthiest European universities, you hit restrictions based around copyright that stifle your research. Private interests should not be allowed to interfere with the public good, especially for health, education, and research.” — Researcher, petition signee

Copyright is the exclusive right of a creator to determine how, where and when his work is published or distributed. It determines the extent to which a teacher may use, share or remix any material made by someone else. In some cases, there is a special exception to copyright for education, because education is important for having a well functioning democratic society. Unfortunately, there are still many things that are not allowed but would benefit education. We would like that to change.

Exceptions (and limitations) to copyright for education should support necessary access and re-use of copyrighted content of all types in a variety of education settings and across borders. It is important these exceptions apply on the 21st century. Education remains a public good, so let’s treat it that way, even in the digital sphere.

2. Copyright should embrace technological developments

“At our university, the professors are no longer allowed to make the scripts and lecture notes available to the students for download, since they, almost without exception, contain material of third parties. For me as a student, this is a challenge because it makes me dependent on getting one of the few books on the subject in the library.” University Student, petition signee

Technological developments have modernised our way of sharing information. They have made information more accessible and easy to share. This could hugely benefit education. Wouldn’t it be helpful, if the professor could just send his notes to all the students, instead of every student having to pen everything down the professor says? Wouldn’t it be be great, if students could use digital library books as they use physical books? We should not use technological developments as something other than its older counterpart, but embrace the opportunities it gives to education.

3. Copyright rules should be understandable for teachers

“Every day I work with educational material created or compiled by teachers. A lot of their material cannot be shared [with other teachers] without infringing copyright. The rules should be simplified and made more flexible for education. — High School Teacher, petition signee

Every member state of the European Union has different copyright rules in place. Something that is allowed in one country might be forbidden in another. This makes for a fragmented legal landscape of educational exceptions and limitations on copyright across Europe. It makes it difficult for teachers to collaborate with other teachers across Europe. On top of that many national laws on copyright aren’t technology neutral. This means that teachers face different copyright rules depending on the technology they use. Teacher should be able to focus on providing education — not on becoming copyright experts.

We have to act now

Right now the EU is working on the copyright reform. We decided to use this unique opportunity to make sure we raise our voice for education. The European parliament will vote on the Commission’s proposal later this year, and can change, accept or reject it. We will present the outcomes of the petition in the European Parliament, clearly showing them the voice of the European citizens eager for a good-quality education, and a copyright that matches.

Help us reach our goal

Together, we can make it happen by joining our movement for a better copyright for education. We have one week left to reach our target goal. You can sign the petition for a better copyright for education by going to It only takes a minute.

  1. Visit the campaign website
  2. Sign the petition.
  3. Share the information about the petition with your colleagues, friends and family via mail, social media or face to face. You can find sample tweets, posts and images here.

If you would like to know more about the campaign, or have questions, please contact Judith Blijden at is part of the project Copyright for Education, funded by the Open Society Foundation.

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