It’s no secret that engaging users in copyright can be difficult. Because of this, we started thinking of innovative ways to make learning about copyright licences and exceptions more light-hearted, whilst still maintaining the underlying education element needed to understand quite a complex area of scholarly communication.
What is Copyright Dough?
Copyright Dough is a game developed by myself and my colleague Katrine Sundsbø at the University of Essex. The basic concept of the game is that players are all assigned a different role, termed within the game as ‘creators’, ‘teachers’, ‘researchers’, and ‘students’, and are then asked to create a play dough model. Some players have full creative freedom when creating their models, whilst others must either create something inspired by another model, or copy another’s work entirely.
Once this initial creative stage has finished, the players are given a copyright licence for their model, and are then asked to explain to the group how they came up with their model, and what they intend to use it for. This varies between roles, and can include being used in an open education platform, being published in an academic journal article, being added as a reference in a final year dissertation, and many more. As the players explain how they intend to use their creation, the group vote on whether they believe this decision is ‘ok’ or ‘not ok’, based on the given licences, and copyright exceptions.
The discussion element makes it clear to the players that issues of copyright are rarely black and white decisions. Furthermore, by asking the players to copy and be inspired by other players’ models, it allows those involved in the game to put themselves in the shoes of the creators of works. This allows different perspectives to be appreciated, and highlights that the context of the decision is crucial when considering copyright. The game also promotes the idea that copyright licences can be enablers of creativity, and not restrictors. This discussion all takes place within a light-hearted, creative context, providing a memorable experience for participants.
Who can play Copyright Dough?
We have run Copyright Dough with a range of individuals already, from early career researchers, to professional services staff, and students. We have found the game to be a great introduction to the world of copyright licences and exceptions, and have also found that the game gives a chance to consider scenarios perhaps previously unexplored for those more familiar with copyright.
We are soon going to be taking Copyright Dough on tour, first to the University of Kent, and then to the LILAC Conference*, but you can also download all of the materials for free via Figshare. All you will need to play the game is some play dough! We would love to see some examples of others playing the game, so feel free to share your experiences with us!
About the Author
Hannah Pyman is the Information Literacy Co-ordinator at the University of Essex. Within this role, she specialises in scholarly communication and research support.
* Due to the COVID-19 pandemic the LILAC 2020 will not be taking place and tours are likely to be postponed until further notice.