Think about your company’s intellectual property: the patents, the trademarks, the creative materials produced by your employees or contractors and protected by copyright. Ask any of your colleagues about the importance of protecting these assets, and you’re likely to hear a unanimous response: it’s important.

When you consider that 36% of the content that’s shared is externally sourced, that’s about 17 potential instances of unlicensed sharing by employees per week

Now ask the same question regarding the protection of external information or someone else’s intellectual property. Research and advisory firm Outsell, Inc.’s 2016 Information Seeking, Consumption and Use Report suggests a large difference in both awareness and consideration of copyright for information coming from external sources.

Here’s a look at the stats:

  1. 94% of respondents believe it is important to protect their own organization’s intellectual property.
  2. 64% of respondents believe if they obtain free information on the web or in print, they are permitted to share it.
  3. 47% of individual contributors admit they don’t think about copyright issues before forwarding published information.

This isn’t to say that most people disregard the importance of copyright. In fact, 74% of respondents recognize there are serious risks and copyright implications associated with exchanging published information.

The problem, then, is in awareness. The study goes on to note that nearly a quarter of respondents report not knowing the specifics of their company’s copyright policy.

Remember the stat about respondents believing if they obtain free information on the web or in print, they are permitted to share? In most cases, they aren’t.  Without that awareness of the limitation on what they lawfully do, employees share content blindly, unaware they’re putting their organization in a potentially detrimental situation.

3 Quick Tips to Increase Copyright Awareness

  1. New employees need to be made aware of the company’s copyright policy and to receive ongoing reinforcement thereafter so information isn’t forgotten or outdated.
  2. Provide specific use cases. Training should include specific use cases, so employees 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 copied and sent to a small group of coworkers? 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 organization.

Content sharing is vital for today’s R&D-intensive industries. In fact, survey respondents report sharing content an average 5.5 times per week with nine people. When you consider that 36% of the content that’s shared is externally sourced, that’s about 17 potential instances of unlicensed sharing by employees per week.

To educate yourself and your team about copyright, check out CCC’s copyright education resources.

 

This first appeared on Copyright Clearance Center by Stephen Garfield