We are content rich; it’s piling up everywhere, both inside and outside of our organisations. Making use of the abundant content in the world would seem like a good way to develop our online learning experiences.
We spend so much money creating content, wouldn’t we be better to just curate? But is it legal?
Here’s the good news. Thanks to the world of hypertext (e.g. linking), you can curate your content whilst remaining entirely legal. Even if you’re selling the experience. But you will need to take some active decisions along the way to remain on the right side of the law.
The Golden Rule of Content Curation
There is just one simple rule will keep you on the right side of all curation issues before we begin:
Never copy content; link to it
The Internet was founded on the principle of linked content: It was always the intent that one piece of content would link to another. And as the base of content has grown, so has the need to aggregate and curate this content. There is real value in the curation process.Without curators the sheer breadth of content available would become unmanageable.
You can sell your services as a curator without fear of reprisal. But curators don’t copy things; they don’t plagiarise. They add value by linking the right pieces of content together to give a better overall experience than the individual pieces would give on their own.
Take this further and build a social learning experience around curated content and you are on to a very valuable proposition. When you curate content by linking and embedding shareable media into a learning experience using Stream LXP (formerly Curatr) it is the experience you are selling, not the content.
Fair Usage Policies
Having said this, there are occasions when it is inappropriate, or even illegal to curate other peoples content. Most of us understand the concept of copyright; that an author retains the right to sell and distribute their original work until they elect to give it up (or the statute of limitations kicks in). But copyright is also governed by the principles of Fair Use.
‘Fair Use’ is a limitation on copyright which is recognized in most countries (although varies from place to place). There are three basic considerations as to whether or not something is considered ‘fair use’:
Presuming you are not explicitly violating a copyright agreement and that you are adhering to the principles of fair use, you should be legally in a good position to curate material into a learning experience. But you do also carry a moral obligation, especially if you are going to make money from your curated experience. This is a bit stickier…
To help you stay on the right-side of your moral obligations here are four tips for keeping the moral high-ground when using curated material in your learning experiences:
Go Get Curating!
Follow those moral principles and I believe you have no problem selling access to your curation community. If you’re stuck for ideas on where to actually source content, our post on 20 free sources of learning content for curation will get you started, but the beauty of curation is that there is almost literally no limit on what you can use as long as you adhere to the relevant copyright laws.
So – go forth, and curate! What’s stopping you?
If you’d like to find out more about curating content for learning, you may be interested in my book, Ready, Set, Curate.
Ben serves as CEO for Learning Pool LTD, with responsibility for the commercial, product and people functions based mostly in the UK, reporting to the Group CEO.
Previously, Ben served as Chief Product Officer for Learning Pool where he worked to help define and develop Learning Pool’s next generation of workplace digital learning platforms, with a focus on Learning Experience Platforms and the Learning Analytics space.
Before Learning Pool, Ben helped to build HT2 Labs from humble beginnings into a globally recognized innovator in workplace digital learning. Learning Pool completed an acquisition of HT2 Labs in June 2019.
Ben’s expertise is based in research, having previously completed his PhD researching the impact of gamification on adult social learning, Ben has authored and contributed chapters for many books, has two peer-reviewed academic papers and has presented at conferences around the world, including TEDx.
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