Copy-Right Consultants Ltd

Step One: know yourself

The first thing you need to identify, before knowing anything about what you are clearing, is what you are clearing for. What is the purpose of your project and what is its intended audience? This is the essential first step. You cannot make any progress unless you know this.

Questions to ask your project team are:

  • Why is this product/course/item being made?

  • What is the intended audience?

  • Where is the audience located?

  • How many users\copies (distribution levels)?

  • What boundaries define the audience – are they registered students of your own institution, or of other institutions, or will the materials be released publicly?

  • By which media will you reach them? (There is often more than one medium, and you need to include all of them in your clearance.)

  • Are there any secondary uses? That is, will the product be subsequently released to another audience (for example, will the course be marketed to other institutions as well as being presented to your own students)?

  • What is the budget and how much of it can be spent on rights clearance?

  • Consider if alternative sources could be explored; for example, out-of-copyright works, works available under appropriate Creative Commons licences.

The answers to these questions will allow you to draw up a clearance specification. The clearance specification then becomes your standard approach to rights holders when requesting clearance.That is, your requests for permission to use content will be standardised at the correct level of clearance for the project.

It’s good practice to draw up a standard clearance specification to cover as much of your institution’s work as possible. This introduces dependability into the clearance system. If you establish a minimum level of clearance to work within, it’s easier to produce standard templates that permit you to work more quickly, to cope with higher volumes, and to have a greater level of assurance that everything has been covered.

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