Copyright is a major concern for universities. Kent's first Copyright and Licensing Compliance Officer describes how he got involved in this role.
How did you first get involved in copyright?
After my Communication Studies degree at Glamorgan, I did a few temporary jobs – from working in a warehouse to the National Gallery – while I focused on being a musician. But my dreams of being a megastar didn’t quite work out, so I got my first proper job connected with the music industry, working for PRS for Music, which collects and distributes around £0.66bn in copyright royalties to composers and songwriters. From there, I moved onto the British Library in 2009 as Copyright Assurance Manager, providing advice and training to library staff and developing the Library’s copyright policy.
Why did you decide to join Kent and what does your role here involve?
Being a parent of a young child, I was keen to move away from London. I also have family connections with Canterbury – my mum was born here and my parents now live here. I was worried about leaving the central London hub, but it’s really exciting being part of a university where you can always learn new things.
It is the first time there has been a dedicated copyright post at the University. Part of my role is answering copyright queries and ensuring that we stay within the law. But I’m also involved in other areas such as being part of UUK/Guild HE Copyright Working Group, where we’re thinking strategically about licensing and education in the future.
My biggest challenge is communicating the importance of copyright and licensing without it being seen as boring or frustrating. For example, I have developed a card game that’s now being used in copyright training courses across HE which is practical, interactive and (hopefully) fun as well.
Why is copyright relevant to higher education?
Copyright is the legal and administrative framework governing the creation of and access to expressions of human creativity and knowledge. This means it’s of fundamental importance to any educational institution, particularly in today’s digital world.
Undoubtedly, today’s teenagers have a different view of the world and new technology – we need to find a path between the internet allowing us to do anything for free and the old way of locking things down. I don’t want copyright to be seen as a big stick. I want to make it empowering and enabling by providing support and guidance to academic and other staff.
How do you spend your time outside work?
I love running, cycling, cooking, playing music and making dreadful dad jokes. Most of my time is spent with my family or with my band recording material in our home studio and having fun. There’s three of us, and two of them are Kent alumni – Anthony Caldwell and Jason McCann – who say the campus is very different to when they were here in the late 1990s. In the future, we’re planning to get out on the road – but basically we’re keeping the dream alive in our little broom cupboard!
What would be your perfect day?
A perfect day at work would involve helping someone turn something complicated and scary into something manageable and positive. It would also likely involve a run in the sunshine and freshly baked bread at some point.
What single thing would improve the quality of your life?
I already feel that having moved to a job where I work five minutes from my front door and am able to spend so much time with my four-year-old son has been the biggest improvement on quality of life anyone could ask for. Having said that, I wouldn’t turn down the opportunity to become independently wealthy.
What is your greatest achievement?
My first half-marathon in Paddock Wood, which I completed in less than two hours. I’ve run further and faster since then, but that was probably the greatest feeling of accomplishment I’ve ever experienced.
How do you celebrate good news?
Tell everyone I know, but most importantly my wife and my mum. Consumption of curry and beer are also generally accepted forms of celebration.
What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
From my mum: “no learning experience is ever wasted.”