Since the concept of Pond was unveiled at ULearn conference in 2013 (then simply known as “the portal”) and the big reveal was given at the Festival of Education in March this year, there has been a thread of commentary, curiosity and some concern around copyright, the protection of rights holders and how Pond (and us fine folk behind the whole shindig) intend to negotiate these choppy waters.

First let me start by acknowledging those in our community who are the creators of the content the rest of us consume more rapidly every day. Your work inspires, motivates, informs and educates us. We recognise your right to be remunerated for your work and want to do all that we can to protect that right. To those of you who are able to make your content freely available, thank you for your generosity and contribution, we are committed to doing everything we can to ensure recognition and correct attribution is given to you.

Pond is a community of educators working toward a common goal – that of the education of New Zealand kids, and a commitment to share with each other our ideas, insights, experiences, self-developed resources and the promotion of great work developed by others.

But, just like any other community, there needs to be guidelines and rules. And while Pond has those, something else is more important – the ease-of-functionality to help the individual behave in the correct manner, whilst not compromising their freedom to contribute broadly.

So, in light of that, here are a couple of things you ought to know;

Pond users can specify the ownership details for the item they are sharing and the licence that exists for the use of that item. We are looking to implement functionality to guide users in making the correct selections and will work closely with our provider and educator friends to ensure a broadly acceptable approach is adopted.

Given this is a broad community and we want to promote the sharing of topical information in a very timely manner , we will not proactively monitor shared content. Instead we will be relying on users in the Pond community to flag inappropriate content which we will then investigate. Users who persistently share infringing content will be notified that they must cease such activity and, if they fail to do so, may have their access to Pond disabled.

We are working hard to ensure the right culture is cultivated in Pond to ensure this approach is all that is needed. In the case where that proves not to provide enough protection to content creators, we will investigate and implement more proactive methods.

N4L operates a published Takedown Policy that can be found here. Pond users can currently contact N4L’s Helpdesk or use the Feedback tool in Pond to notify N4L of allegedly infringing content, which will then be suppressed from display in Pond while it is being investigated. If the content is found to infringe copyright it will not be returned to display within Pond and the submitting user will be contacted regarding the item. Pond will shortly support a ‘flagging’ system whereby any Pond user can immediately flag an item as being inappropriate for any reason, including alleged rights infringement – this functionality will make the reporting process more streamlined.

As always, we are keen to get feedback on Pond. If you’re a Twitter user you can chat with us at @N4LNZ or join in the Pond conversation with the hashtag #N4LPond. Or, you can always email us at [email protected].

Our sincere thanks to Paula Browning at Copyright Licensing Limited for co-authoring this post.