COL promotes the use of and access to information and knowledge resources within COL and Commonwealth countries while respecting the legitimate rights of the holders of intellectual property.
COL complies with the various international copyright acts and regulations to ensure that there is no infringement of copyright by the organisation, its staff and consultants.
COL publishes its works under appropriate open licences for non-profit purposes in education and development. This does not preclude the sale of such materials within COL’s mission and mandate.
Copyright is the right to control the use of one’s own work. Creators or owners of materials can give, sell or license this right to others and it is illegal for others to use this original material without their consent.
COL uses its influence throughout the Commonwealth to inform members about IP laws, regulations and practices, and to encourage the sharing of knowledge resources through open licences, while respecting the rights of authors, IP holders, learners and educators.
COL has observer status at the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO).
COL publications, such as books, reports, courseware, etc., are marked with copyright protection using the symbol © along with year of publication.
Any publications prepared using COL support are released as per COL’s Open Educational Resources (OER) policy which outlines the licensing of these works.
The appropriate licence symbol and statements are noted on all COL documents to inform potential users of how the materials may be used and under what circumstances.
COL’s websites and public services shall carry copyright and licensing statements as well as disclaimer and privacy notices.
Publications authored by COL staff as part of their duties are considered the property of COL as per a written contract of employment and COL retains the copyright of these works. This policy includes resources such as photographs, videos, audios, etc. Where appropriate, such publications may be released under corporate authorship.
When COL pays creators of works for their efforts, it holds all rights to the materials. COL also offers the original author full rights to use the materials as provided to COL, even though the ownership has been ceded to COL.
IP rights of an author, as the creator of the work, must be correctly attributed when used.
Use of materials belonging to other organisations for COL’s educational purposes
Where complete works are required for duplication or inclusion in COL materials, COL will secure the rights to use materials that are available free of charge wherever possible.
When reusing copyrighted materials not available under an open license, ‘fair use’ guidelines may be applied. Due to the differences in legal frameworks in countries, there is no standard that may be applied in all cases. Care should be taken to provide full attribution in all such use of copyrighted materials. Permission for reuse in each specific case will be taken up with the owner of the works.
Storing complete copies of website documents from other organisations constitutes a copyright infringement. Hyperlinks to documents on websites (’deep links’) are not seen as an infringement but rather a reflection of the way the Internet operates. Where content is used from websites, appropriate bibliographic entries shall be used.
Digital and analogue copies of copyright restricted materials
Copyright policies apply to digital content in much the same way as they apply to printed materials. For example, if a single digital copy of a journal article or eBook has been purchased for organisational use, multiple copies may not be distributed.
Citation style guides
Internationally recognised referencing methods will be used in the acknowledgement of references. For COL publications, an in-house style guide is available.
Useful resources on IP
- Establishing Copyright Procedure in Distance Education
- Introduction to Copyright
- Copyright and Open Educational Resources