Copyright clampdown

February 26, 1999

There is a lot of copyright in a video. People writing, music-making and saying original things. There is intellectual property everywhere you look.

And now, just as it is getting practical to stream video on-line, digitise it and put it on CD-Roms, all kinds of barriers are going up. European legislation is clamping down ("EC directive endangers learning", THES, February 19) and e-commerce standards are sweeping in, making it easier to charge for educational "tools" on the internet.

Until now, we've found, as have our Higher Education Video Consortium colleagues, that artists, academics and institutions have been generous with their intellectual property, quite ready to enable us to offer the videos we make copyright-free to education.

Will they continue to do so when their work is seen not as resources to be shared but as commodities to be cashed in? Especially when any pop singer-songwriter could tell them it never has been, and never will be, the copyright owner who cashes in.

Janice Gardner Educational Broadcasting Services Trust, London W1

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