case study

Case study

Completing a digital assignment on Shakespeare’s Hamlet

Entrance to Shakespeare's Birthplace sign-13Feb2005.jpg

Theresa Brown, is a first year, registered student taking a Media Studies course at the local university. She is preparing an assignment on Hamlet by William Shakespeare. She is required to publish the assignment online, and also prepare a slide show with an audio summary. The university provides a hosted website for each of its students in the course but access to the site is restricted to registered students taking the course who are provided with password access. A number of students do not have affordable access to the internet at home, so Theresa wants to include local copies of supporting resources she has found on the open web for download from the website that will only be accessible through the institution’s local network. She plans to include the following resources:

  1. The full text of Hamlet edited by Charles Kean who died in 1868 (accessible here).
  2. An image of the portrait of Hamlet, by William Morris Hunt (1824 – 1879) housed by the Boston Museum of Fine Arts.
  3. A digital copy of the Cobbe portrait of William Shakespeare recently discovered in March 2009. (See press release published by The Guardian.)
  4. A local copy of the BLC production of Hamlet from Youtube.
  5. Theresa has compiled a slide show with an audio summary which she will host on Slideshare. Her slide show was based on her own original research work drawing on a winning essay published by Penguin on the Signet Essay Competition site, openly accessible on the web.

Question 5: Theresa’s slide show


Questions relating to the copyright of Theresa's slide show

Choose the correct option. Afterwards, we suggest that you review the feedback on all the options as these also contain valuable information.
  • Is Theresa’s slide show protected by copyright
    • Yes
      • Correct. Theresa’s slide show would constitute a scientific or creative work and is therefore protected by copyright.
    • No
      • Incorrect. Theresa’s slide show would constitute a scientific or creative work and is therefore protected by copyright.
  • Which of the following options would be the most likely candidates for the ownership of the published version of the essay Theresa authored for the competition.
    • Theresa
      • It depends. Generally speaking, the owner of the copyright is the original author. However, this may not be the case given that her essay was published on the publishers website. We don’t know if copyright was assigned to the publisher.
    • Theresa’s old school
      • Schools should not claim copyright over a learner’s work, and minors can assert copyright. You don’t need to be of legal contracting age to own copyright.
    • The Signet Essay Competition website
      • Most likely alternative at first glance based on the assumption that the rules of the competition required assignment of copyright to the publisher. The terms of service of the Signet Essay Website indicate that the resources are all rights reserved and owned by the company, or licensed for use by the company.
  • Can Theresa include a copy of the slide show on her website assuming portions of the competition essay are incorporated into her presentation.
    • Yes
      • Most probably. This would depend on the extent of verbatim copies in the slide show of her work published on Signet Essay Website and if properly cited with attribution of the copyright holder, this should be permissible. (Note: This assumes that the slide show does not contain any other third party materials.)
    • No
      • Incorrect. If Theresa included a substantial portion of the essay in her slide show, she may need to clear copyright permissions from the publisher to include a verbatim copy of her essay. However, it is not typical to include full text in a slide show. Appropriately cited extracts from the essay would fall under fair dealing or fair usage. (Note: This assumes that the slide show does not contain any other third party materials.)