Copyright for Librarians (CFL) reaches millions more

13 Jan 2012
CFL launches in Arabic, Chinese, French and Russian

Copyright for Librarians pa RusskiCopyright law directly affects library services providing access to learning resources, scientific and research information. Librarians and their professional organisations play key roles in shaping national and international copyright policy and in protecting and promoting access to knowledge.

“Copyright for Librarians” is an online open curriculum on copyright law developed by the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard Law School, in conjunction with EIFL. It aims to inform librarians about copyright law in general, and in particular those aspects of copyright law that most affect libraries, especially those in developing and transition countries. 

Nine modules, at five different levels, can be used as the basis for a self-taught course, as traditional classroom learning or as distance-learning. 

Available at:

When EIFL asked its global network of copyright librarians what they would most value for the next-phase development of “Copyright for Librarians” (CFL), the response was clear – availability in local languages would mean that it reaches many more librarians, academics and students in EIFL partner countries. 

“CFL provides a unique opportunity for Kyrgyz librarians to acquire a fundamental knowledge of copyright law. If it were available in Russian, many librarians in my country would be interested in taking the course, and it could be used for teaching at the information studies department at Bishkek Humanitarian University”, said Safia Rafikova, EIFL-IP librarian for the Kyrgyzstan Library Information Consortium. In fact, Safia had already translated the objectives, introduction and module titles to give local librarians a better understanding of the course, “We eagerly await a Russian language version!”, added Safia. 

In Senegal, Awa Cissé, EIFL-IP librarian for the Consortium des Bibliothèques de l’Enseignement Supérieur du Sénégal (COBESS) had a similar request. “To optimise use by our local community of librarians and the  wider Francophonie in Africa, a French version is essential.  When available, we have plans to share it with our library colleagues, and to start a discussion with our school of librarianship with a view to its incorporation into the curriculum”, said Awa.

With positive feedback for Arabic and Chinese too, EIFL decided to organize translations into all four languages. The work was carried out in cooperation with the local EIFL-IP librarian. In some cases, a team worked collaboratively on the translations, with the added benefit of sharing knowledge and building experience in library copyright issues.

Localization for national law 

Arabic translation by the EULC team

 The team at the Egyptian Universities Libraries Consortium (EULC) plan in addition, to localize the content by adding information about Egyptian IP legislation and local case studies so that the curriculum will eventually become a core course for librarians in Egypt on national and international copyright laws. “When developing a copyright course for an international audience, one can effectively cover only the international level - that defines to a large extent the parameters of national law”, says Teresa Hackett, EIFL-IP Programme Manager. “We are delighted that EULC will adapt the curriculum for Egyptian law. This is exactly what we had hoped for when CFL was being developed, and we encourage other communities to do the same”. 

There are two features that enable such localization. The first is that the course materials are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution licence.  Librarians and the public at large can translate, distribute, modify, and build upon the materials without having to seek permission, thus eliminating any legal barriers. The second is that the translations, hosted by EIFL, use the popular software MediaWiki, best known for its use in Wikipedia. MediaWiki, itself available in many languages, makes it easy to edit and add text or to create new sections on local law; an effective means for the local library community to take ownership of the materials for future development and use. 

Take-up and online dissemination 

Since its launch in 2010, take-up of CFL has been wide and varied. The content has been integrated into existing library school curricula, for example at the University of Zambia and in Namibia. It was translated into Serbian for the EU Tempus project “New Library Services at Western Balkan Universities”, and became a component of another Tempus project to develop a masters programme on library and information science in Armenia, Georgia and Uzbekistan. In the meantime, students at the Nicolaus Copernicus University Toruń and at Moldova State University are working on Polish and Romanian translations. 

The content has been uploaded to important Open Educational Resource (OER) platforms including Jorum, Connexions, MERLOT and the African Virtual University. As many institutions in EIFL partner countries are using virtual learning platforms, the English version will be available on Moodle, the widely used course management system. 

Copyright for Librarians: the essential handbook

CPL coverDue for publication in 2012, the Handbook is adapted from the online course materials. We hope that it will be a useful adjunct to the online course, especially for those with  limited connectivity or who simply prefer to study from a textbook. Copies will be sent to each EIFL consortium partner, and it will be available on print-on-demand from Lulu for anyone else who would like a copy.

EIFL greatly appreciates the work of the translators, proof-readers, wiki editors and all those who contributed. A special word of thanks goes to the Berkman Center for their continued support. 

Copyright for Librarians was made possible with generous funding from the Ford Foundation and the Open Society Foundations.  

PDF version    

January 2012