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Working From Home and Copyright Compliance
Posted On February 2, 2021
As more and more employees are working from home, how they share information and comply with copyright law presents companies with major challenges. Since its founding in 1978, Copyright Clearance Center (CCC) has created copyright solutions for users of all types, including individuals, universities, and global corporations. With the increase in the work-from-home (WFH) sharing of content—electronically or otherwise—CCC has recognized the urgent need to address copyright issues as they relate to this new environment. Along with Outsell, Inc., it recently hosted two meetings: the first, a virtual town hall on Dec. 15, 2020, called When R&D Meets WFH, and the second, a webcast on Jan. 28, 2021, called New Trends in Information Consumption, Copyright Awareness and the Impact of Working From Home.

Town Hall

When R&D Meets WFH was moderated by Christopher Kenneally (director of content marketing for CCC) and featured Ned May (SVP of analytic operations at Outsell), Kenneth Getz (deputy director and research professor at Tufts Center for the Study of Drug Development), Tracy Brower (principal of the applied research and consulting group at Steelcase), Keri Mattaliano (director of corporate solutions at CCC), and Emilie Delquie (director of rightsholder relations and global alliances at CCC).

May began the session by analyzing how information is being shared during the pandemic, noting that an increased number of executives (63%) are sharing more, while potential copyright violations per employee per industry per week are also increasing—ranging from 40.2 in Travel & Leisure to 174.1 in Finance & Insurance. May recommended four essential actions that corporations should take to ensure copyright compliance: recognize the changing nature of what a publication is, enable compliance via email and collaboration platforms, educate on copyright awareness, and plan for WFH to last.

Getz shared that in the unique environment created by COVID-19 and the accelerated remote collaboration to create a vaccine, telemedicine, e-consent, and remote monitoring played key roles in the vaccine development process. He recommended several activities that are necessary to drive and support change in a WFH environment, including “a massive engagement campaign,” “cross organizational progressive strategies,” data governance, continuity planning, “real-time and interim assessment and adjustment,” and “operating models conducive to ‘agile-at-scale’ organizational capabilities.”

Brower began by stating that WFH “will be the most significant reinvention of work in our experience.” She reinforced the need to build bridges and adapt, to “accelerate where we go from here, embracing resilience” and to respond with “creativity and innovation, analysis and synthesis, and technology, putting things together in new ways.” She offered advice on how to cope with and embrace this new work environment: “Getting through will require mindset (validation, end in mind, your ‘why’), support (connections, help), basics (self-care), and endurance (routine).”

Mattaliano represented CCC’s customers’ perspective. Based on a recent RightFind Roundtable and her experiences and conversations with information professionals, she stressed the importance of info pros within an organization, citing key takeaways: 1) “Information centers are tasked with demonstrating value internally,” 2) “Early research (e.g., preprints and conference materials) [is] gaining importance,” and 3) “Information managers demand tools that make information more discoverable and digestible (e.g., knowledge graphs, AI/ML [machine learning], text mining, voice search).” Information professionals are even more critical in a WFH environment, she said. They conduct training on copyright and help with discovery tools.

Delquie concluded the speaker portion of the meeting by reiterating the communal aspect of WFH during the pandemic. She said, “We are all in this together”: We’re coping with an unexpected flood of submissions, research-centric societies are emphasizing member services, and publishers are passing the COVID stress test.


New Trends in Information Consumption, Copyright Awareness and the Impact of Working From Home also featured Ned May, as well as Stephen Garfield (VP of client engagement and licensing at CCC), who both reviewed Outsell’s 2020 Information Seeking and Consumption Study. The webcast addressed the impact of how the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent increase in WFH have impacted sharing in the workplace and offered an assessment of employees’ awareness of copyright. It also focused on how a clear copyright policy and licensing solutions support a streamlined content workflow.

The Outsell study notes, “The velocity of content sharing is accelerating. From research and industry news to workforce trends and legislative reform, organizations rely on the reuse of published content to support collaboration and drive innovation.”

It continues, “So not surprisingly, the rate of work-related content sharing has tripled since 2016”—5.5 instances of content-sharing per week versus 16.5 in 2020. “Yet, 47% of professionals … are either unaware of their organization’s copyright policy or unsure of its details.” Further analysis shows that “executives share more content than other employees,” with 24.6 instances of content-sharing per week.

CCC Resources

CCC has stepped in to help businesses not only manage their sharing efforts, but do so while remaining copyright-compliant. A CCC spokesperson explains, “CCC’s Copyright Education Certificate Programs provide guidance and tools to help everyone … navigate copyright challenges in both the academic and corporate environment. Whether an executive or someone working for them is responsible for managing compliance and ethics, obtaining permissions, organizing their organization’s various license agreements, or managing content, CCC helps simplify the complex world of copyright.” The certificate programs include Advanced Copyright for Business, Copyright 101, Copyright 101 for Academia, and Advanced Copyright for Publishing.

CCC’s spokesperson adds, “We’re also supporting learning objectives for businesses facing new challenges in strengthening the skills of remote workers around the globe. Our innovative learning content management solutions, available through our professional services team, help reduce costs associated with creating and managing extensive collections of online learning content.” The professional services options can be found here:

There is no doubt that in order to help businesses stay on the right side of copyright, especially while many employees continue to WFH, CCC will provide the necessary tools and services to allow them to do so successfully.

Corilee Christou is president of C2 Consulting, a firm that specializes in leveraging and licensing digital content of all types to traditional and internet-based companies using new and innovative business models.

Email Corilee Christou

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