Copyright expertise when you need it.
Today’s educational institutions require a high level of copyright expertise and consultation. Does your institution have a position dedicated to meeting that need? Or are you filling this growing need by calling on multiple staff members to contribute to the effort?
Does your copyright team have a licensed and experienced attorney to rely on for explanation and application of the law, confirmation of your understanding, and general consultation?
If your educational institution is one of the majority which recognizes the need for such a dedicated position but is currently unready or unable to provide a full-time attorney to meet these needs, you may need a Copyright Officer on Call.
Copyright Officers in educational institutions promote a healthy and productive copyright environment by ensuring that the institution benefits as much as possible from the rights granted it under copyright law while also respecting the rights of copyright owners.
The need for copyright expertise on academic and K-12 campuses has never been greater. Yet, even as the demand grows, few institutions at any level are lucky enough to have a true expert in a position dedicated to supporting the institution’s copyright needs.
In many cases, the institution simply does not have enough need in the area of copyright to warrant employing a full-time Copyright Officer. In other cases, the need may be there but not the resources necessary to create and maintain such a position.
Through Copyright Officer on Call, copyright attorney Gretchen McCord and her support team provide your institution with the benefits of having a dedicated copyright expert on your team without the commitment of resources required when hiring a full-time member of your staff.
Our goals are to be there when you need us, and only when you need us; to provide services in a seamless manner; and to tailor your services to the particular environment of your institution.
Attorney, instructor, and copyright expert Gretchen McCord provides support, advice, guidance, and assistance for projects and situations common in the higher education and K-12 arena, including:
- Fair use analysis in any context
- Incorporating digital resources into the curriculum and classroom
- Using works in online and distance programs, including MOOCs and blended courses
- Assisting with license negotiations with vendors and publishers
- Establishing policies and procedures for mass digitization projects
- Establishing policies and procedures for using orphan works
- Protecting the institution’s copyrights
- Advising faculty and staff on publishing without giving away their and the institution’s rights
- Ensuring adequacy and effectiveness of institutional policies on copyright issues
- Educating faculty, staff, and students
- Ensuring compliance with copyright laws
- Maximizing use of Open Access, Creative Commons, public domain, and other easily available works
- Answering questions about electronic reserves systems
- Establishing policies and procedures for institutional repositories
Each educational institution has its own unique needs and unique resources to devote to meeting those needs. Copyright Officer on Call offers a range of services to meet the range of needs, and we will help you select those that best respond to your unique situation:
Legal Consultation and Advice
When you need legal analysis of a situation, advice, and/or guidance in how to proceed, you need legal consultation and advice. When your institution retains attorney Gretchen McCord, the institution (or department) becomes a legal client, and the rights and responsibilities of an attorney-client relationship adhere, as regulated by the State Bar of Texas.
Those whose needs are ongoing may wish to hire Gretchen on a retainer basis, in which billing is based on a monthly flat rate rather than an hourly rate for time spent. Many clients prefer the retainer basis because it simplifies budget planning and gives them the freedom to spend as much time as necessary on an issue without worrying about the ticking of a pay-clock.
For those who need only answers to questions about the law, rather than analysis and legal advice or counsel, we offer a discounted rate on time-based plans for responding to your questions about copyright in the form of legal information only.
With the Legal Information plan, you specify individuals who are authorized to contact us with questions at anytime, as the need arises. Answers are provided in the form of legal information only; under this option, legal advice will not be given.
For example, if the question involves fair use, the response might explain the law and how it pertains to the presented situation, and perhaps direct the requester to further resources, such as specific case law; but would not include a legal analysis or conclusion as to whether the situation presented is likely to constitute fair use, and would not advise the requester as to whether or not to proceed with the use. Such analyses and advice constitute legal advice and as such are subject to State Bar of Texas regulation (see above).
Contact Gretchen to learn more.
Policy analysis or preparation involves analyzing the institution’s current situation and policy needs, and responding with new or revised written copyright policies and procedures.
The level of need for each institution is unique. Some may need or prefer an across-the-board policy analysis and drafting of new policies, while others may have more specific needs or questions.
Keep in mind that most institutions address copyright issues in multiple policies. For example, the library may have a specific “Copyright Policy” and also mention copyright in its Acceptable Computer Use policy, while the parent institution addresses copyright in provisions of its faculty/teacher/administrator manuals, student manuals, and/or user policies. In addition, different departments may have their own policies.
From both a legal and a practical perspective, it is crucial that policies be consistent across an institution.
Customized training in copyright law and its application is tailored to the specific needs, situation, and interests of the institution. Interactive participation is an important element of our training, whether the training is presented face-to-face, through webinars, or via other technology. Learn more.
If you’re not sure what you need — or whether you need any of our services at all — let us help you figure it out! Our guiding principle is to respond to client needs in the manner most appropriate to the client. That often means walking through the available options with you to help you determine and prioritize what you do and don’t need in the context of your particular situation (including budget). Contact us to schedule a time for a phone call, and Gretchen will give you the information you need to make informed choices!
The Ideal: A Holistic Approach to Copyright
Mastery of copyright issues is essential in the modern education world. An institution’s approach to copyright both reflects and defines its institutional culture. It is significantly more effective and efficient to take a holistic, inclusive approach than to address specific situations individually as they arise, often independently of each other.
An initial consultation will help both you and us assess the “copyright health” of your institution. (Take our quick Copyright Health Assessment as a starting point!) We will then work with you to identify a plan that is practical for your institution to strengthen weak areas, fill in any gaps, and generally improve the institution’s ability to address copyright issues accurately and comfortably.
Taking this big-picture, holistic approach to addressing your institution’s copyright needs increases the likelihood that the institution’s copyright environment will be robust, beneficial, consistent, and clear to all segments of the community.
Gretchen chooses to work with educational institutions because she loves it, not because of some horribly mis-begotten idea that this is where the big bucks are! We know that educational institutions have limited budgets, and we work with each client to determine how to best achieve their goals in a cost-effective manner.
This includes providing the client with more than one option to address a need (one option may be more thorough but more expensive than another), prioritizing, and suggesting actions the client can take on their own with minimal if any assistance from us.
Most of the services we offer (other than training) can be billed on either a time-spent (hourly rate) basis or a monthly retainer (flat fee) basis. Many clients prefer the retainer basis because it simplifies budget planning and gives the client the freedom to spend as much time as necessary on an issue without worrying about the ticking of a pay-clock. We can help you decide which makes most sense for your own situation.