Increasing your employees’ copyright awareness

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Your employees and copyright awareness: sharing your policy may not be enough

Trends reported in the latest Information Seeking and Consumption Study, published by analyst firm Outsell, Inc., shows that companies are discussing their copyright policies more frequently, leading to 74% of employees reporting awareness of those policies. However, employee behaviours are often misaligned with policy expectations.

Importance of Content

Published content is at the heart of innovation. The ease with which teams can access and share information, such as news, feature articles, research reports, and more, can influence the pace at which organisations and their teams drive innovation and deliver products and services to the market. According to analysts Outsell's recent study about information seeking and consumption, on average, employees share content nearly 8 times per week with 15 people. When you consider that 49% of the content that’s shared is externally sourced, that’s about 57 potential instances of unlicensed sharing per employee, per week.

Do Your Employees Understand Your Company’s Copyright Policies? (Most Don’t)

Access to third-party published content is crucial for employees at research-driven organisations. While the sharing of information with co-workers supports collaboration and drives innovation, the sharing of this content without first obtaining the necessary subscriptions, licenses, or permissions also carries enormous potential risk. Simple content exchanges to help further a discussion and keep business moving may actually create or increase the risk of copyright infringement, leading to costly lawsuits or settlements and affecting brand reputation.

Protecting your company’s intellectual property, including patents, trademarks, and creative materials produced by employees or contractors and protected by copyright, is important. Your employees would likely agree with this statement, but the most recent study from analyst firm Outsell, Inc. results contain some worrying statistics about employee sentiments about copyright:

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Without that awareness of the limitations on what they can lawfully do, employees may share content without full awareness of the limitations of what they can lawfully do, unaware they’re putting their organisation at risk. 

Three Quick Tips to Increase Copyright Awareness

  1. New employees need to be made aware of the company’s copyright policy and should receive ongoing reinforcement thereafter, so information isn’t forgotten or outdated.

  2. Employee training should include relatable experiences and specific use cases, so your team can better understand the granular aspects of their company policy. Provide scenarios, such as: If your company has just been featured in an influential trade journal, can the article be sent to a small group of coworkers via a collaboration tool? Or, if you have permission to use an entire article, can you extract one chart and put it in a presentation?

  3. Make it easy for employees to get answers. When employees don’t receive thorough training, they may not be sure who to turn to with copyright questions. Designate a copyright expert or department that can answer these questions, and make this service known to your entire organisation.

Businesses can take steps to support employee education [link to copyright education] and communication about copyright and deploy appropriate compliance solutions to support a streamlined content workflow. Those solutions should make it easier for all employees to secure needed permissions through proper licensing and copyright-compliant content management software.

Download the Information Seeking and Consumption Study Report

Get more details about employee content sharing habits and insights into how people think and behave in the context of copyrighted content consumption, use, and sharing by accessing the complete 2023 Information Seeking and Consumption Report.

By Stephen Garfield