Zooming in on Education: An Empirical Study on Digital Platforms and Copyright in the United Kingdom, Italy, and the Netherlands



The COVID-19 pandemic has led to a significant change in the types of teaching infrastructure used in higher education. This article examines how the use of commercial digital platforms for educational purposes impacted on teaching practices. At the same time, it shines a light on the experiences and (legal) perceptions of educators as an essential category of stakeholders within the EU copyright legal framework. Against the background of the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, the study reflects on the process of ‘platformisation’ of education and delves into copyright-related aspects of the online teaching and learning environments. The study is based on the presumption that the pandemic-induced transformation of education would require institutional adjustments as well as an enhanced level of copyright awareness among educators. It provides data and evidence based on an empirical study conducted in 2021 surveying over 200 educators in the UK, Italy, and the Netherlands. The results, presented in this article, point at several problematic aspects in relation to ‘platformised’ educational practices and materials, including a low awareness and misled perceptions on copyright legal rules and an increasing role of digital commercial platforms as factual regulators of the higher education sector.


Author Biography

Guido Noto La Diega, University of Stirling

An award-winning law academic with a passion for the legal issues in new technologies, A/Prof Guido Noto La Diega (they/he) is Associate Professor of Intellectual Property Law and Privacy Law at the University of Stirling, Faculty of Arts and Humanities, where they are Chair of the Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Committee, and carry out research at the Centre for Research into Information, Surveillance, and Privacy. A/Prof Noto La Diega’s main expertise is in Internet of Things, Artificial Intelligence, cloud computing, robotics, and blockchain. Their work is animated by the conviction that the law should steer the development of new technologies in an anthropocentric direction.

Holder of a PhD (Unipa), a postdoc (QMUL), and an HEA Fellowship, A/Prof Noto La Diega has published in leading international journals such as the European Intellectual Property Review and European Journal of Law & Technology and appeared on mainstream popular press such as CNET, Il Sole 24 Ore, and Wired. A/Prof Noto La Diega’s works – published in English, Italian, Russian, and Korean – have been cited by the EU Court of Justice's Advocate General, the House of Lords, the World Economic Forum, the European Commission, the European Parliament, and the Council of Europe, amongst others.

A/Prof Noto La Diega has a strong bidding record, having been funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, the German Research Foundation, The Royal Society of Edinburgh, Microsoft, the Society of Legal Scholars, the British and Irish Law Education and Technology Association, the Modern Law Review, Russia’s Ministry of Education and Science, Italy’s Ministry of Education, and Santander. They have decennial academic experience in the UK, Italy, Germany, Switzerland, Russia, and Brazil and they have presented their research in prestigious venues including the WTO Public Forum in Geneva and the Computers, Privacy & Data Protection Conference in Brussels.

Outside of Stirling, A/Prof Noto La Diega is a member of the European Commission’s Expert Group on AI and Data in Education and Training; Chair of the Royal Society of Edinburgh Research Network SCOTLIN (Scottish Law and Innovation Network); Visiting Professor at the University of Macerata; Fellow of the Nexa Center for Internet and Society; Research Associate at the UCL Centre for Blockchain Technologies; Co-founder & Fellow of NINSO Northumbria Internet & Society Research Group; and Co-Convenor of the Open Section of the Society of Legal Scholars, the oldest and largest society of law academics in the UK and the Republic of Ireland.

Alongside research and teaching, A/Prof Noto La Diega is a qualified lawyer called to the Bar of Italy in 2013 and an LGBTQ+ rights activist.






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