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Myself and Atty. Chris Lao, friend and fellow advocate, gave a “talk show” type presentation at the 39th PSTD National Convention.

Assigned to us is the likely copyright infringement that can be committed by HR and Training professionals in the performance of their job.

Here’s the gist of our presentation:


Basic Concepts of Copyright.

  • Copyright exists from the moment of creation
  • Your expression is protected by copyright but not necessarily the concept.
  • Your copyright is your economic rights- to exclusively carry out, authorize or prevent:
    • Reproduction
    • Derivatives
    • Distribution
    • Rental
    • Public Display
    • Public Performance
    • Communication to public
In application to HR and People Development work,  infringement of copyright may happen
  • As an independent trainer or speaker, someone else  benefited economically from your work.
Ex. As freelance trainer, you were contracted to facilitate a training program for a company.  You learned. afterwards, that the in-house trainer used your materials to conduct the same program for the other employees who were not part of your session. 
  • When modules developed by in-house trainers or employees (but copyright belongs to the company) were used outside company purpose by the trainer or someone else, for self gain
  • When copies of the modules developed by an in-house trainer or employee (but copyright  belongs to the company) was digitally saved, taken out and used by the employee even after employer-employee relationship no longer exist.
  • When modules developed by in-house trainers (but copyright  belongs to the company) were shared and used by another trainer belonging to a different company
  • When trainers used photos, “entirety” of videos, “entirety or main gist” of a book or training material, without obtaining the necessary license from the copyright owner.
  • When trainers modify the words and terms, or alter the outline of someone else’s materials, but the outcome still resembles the original work of the protected material.


What’s the difference of Plagiarism from Infringement

  • Plagiarism happens when you lift a content from someone elses’ work and used it,  without giving proper citation.
  • Copyright infringement happens when you used someone else’s protected work,  resulting to economic loss
  • Copyright violation is a criminal offense, while plagiarism is administrative.


Is Fair Use applicable in training?

The general principles of “fair use”  are:

  • No economic gain from the work
  • The part you’ll use is only a small fraction
  • Proper credit is given
  • It is for public interest (i.e. news item)

Here’s a good checklist to gauge if your work will fall under “fair use”.


Best practices to avoid Copyright Infringement and Plagiarism

When using someone else’s work

  • Always give credit to where credit is due
  • Get the appropriate license for the materials you will use. A “personal” license is different from a “commercial” one.
  • As much as you can, secure permission in writing.
  • For materials found on the web, please check if it falls in any of the creative commons licences or it retains full copyright, before using it.

When you are the copyright owner (as consultant trainer)

  • It is wise to include your copyright in the contract.
  • These Qs can be of help
    • Will you give a copy of your material?
    • Will you allow them to use your material to echo or conduct the same program for their employees
    • Will you allow them to take pictures of your slides?
    • Will you allow them to record (audio and video) your training session?
    • Will you allow them to use the audio and video copies  of your training for company use?

As professionals engaged in people development, by subscribing to the best practices will spare us from litigation and reputation damage.

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