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International Workshop ‘Open Educational Resources and Intellectual Property Rights’, May 31 – June 1 2011, Moscow, Russia

OER and IPR logo The ‘Open Educational Resources and Intellectual Property Rights’ (OER & IPR) workshop organized by UNESCO IITE and UNESCO Moscow at the National Research University – Higher School of Economics brought together individuals specializing in the area of open education, OER, copyright, free licenses and policy-making in CIS as well as globally, aiming to share best practices, compare experiences and identify areas for improvement.

One of the key objectives of the organizers was, as Svetlana Knyazeva (UNESCO IITE, Moscow) stressed, establishing networks of experts who would continue to co-operate. Astamur Tedeev (UNESCO Chair on Copyright and Other Intellectual Property Rights, National Research University – Higher School of Economics), also underlined how crucial it was for those with more experience to share expertise and best practices with colleagues from regions and organizations making first steps towards openness to avoid mistakes in tackling similar problems.  Abel Caine (UNESCO Paris) emphasized: ‘We [UNESCO] are your international civil servants’, encouraging everyone to use the resources and expertise available, ask for advice, seek answers to questions from UNESCO bodies all over the globe. A major UNESCO OER community project – WSIS – aims to be the largest and most comprehensive source of information on OER all over the world and all interested are welcome to use the site and get involved in a voluntary translation project.

Some points, facts and statements made by experts:

  • Differences between Creative Commons across countries and contradictions between some laws within countries result in users not contributing as they would rather be ‘safe than sorry’
  • The importance of promoting the idea of ‘openness’ whilst respecting the rights of authors, creators, and organizations who put a lot of effort into producing high-quality learning and teaching resources available for all
  • Licenses are core to OER
  • Creative Commons favours the ‘Some Rights Reserved’ rather than ‘All Rights Reserved’ principle
  • There is a possibility of making profit with CC licenses – so-called ‘premium services’ and advertising
  • The 1886 Berne Convention quoted by copyright experts
  • In Africa, for instance, copyright often restricts access to resources in such a way that they can only be accessed by copyright infringement
  • 185,000,000 works licensed under CC by 2010
  • It is important to discuss copyright issues not only at WIPO as UNESCO can add a different, useful angle to the discussion – cultural, educational, not just economic
  • A participant quoted Russian President Dmitry Medvedev : ‘libraries of universities should be open to everybody’
  • In China government information is non-copyrightable
  • Registered students in schools in China: 311 Million
  • In China the intellectuals and those involved in creative activities think ‘Art for Art’s sake’ and would not exploit the commercial value of their work hence the Chinese reading public take it for granted that some things are free in China; there is a tradition of communal ownership of property
  • It is important to Share knowledge under a reasonable set of guidelines
  • Promote the mentality, skills and motivation of Information society, OER in local languages, digitalization, synergies of CC licenses, diversity of OER, collaboration to be able to remain competitive, between experts, groups, organizations, countries and regions.
  • As Svetlana Knyazeva summarized it ‘we cannot reduce OER to distance education, it is a broader issue’, stressing the importance of a culture of sharing of intellectual products and exchange of opinions, stressing that there is a movement towards openness in Russia ‘step by step’.

Video of my presentation is fourth down on this page: and slides available from all presentations here: