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 that will keep you on the right saw of all curation issues before we begin:
Never copy content, always 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 plagiarize. 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.
Fair usage policies
Having said this, there are occasions when it is inappropriate, or even illegal, to curate other people’s 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 it varies from place to place). There are three basic considerations as to whether or not something is considered ‘fair use’:
Presume you are not explicitly violating a copyright agreement and that you are adhering to the principles to 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…
4 tips for keeping the moral high-ground when curating content for online learning
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’ll have no problem selling access to your curation community. 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?
Ben Betts was one of the founders of HT2 Labs and his work with the company helped to define the ‘next generation’ of workplace digital learning platforms. Under Ben’s direction, HT2 Labs were amongst the first to put gamification into a Learning Experience Platform. They were the first to really grasp how social learning could be applied in the workplace. And HT2 Labs were the first to release an enterprise-ready Learning Record Store.
As Chief Product Officer, his focus is now on developing Learning Pool’s product portfolio and strategy. For the wider industry, he’s also focused on helping companies learn from employees’ collective experiences, on the role of self-directed learning in the workplace and on social learning, gamification and xAPI.
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