Legal and policy issues cluster meeting 2006-12

From DigiRepWiki


JISC Legal & Policy Cluster Meeting, 12th-13th December 2006, Heriot Watt University

Agenda: Day One - 12th December 2006

  • 13:15: Welcome and Introductions (Charles Oppenheim & Neil Jacobs)
  • 13:30: Progress and experiences to date in relation to IPR. Also, identify the areas of IPR that are particularly relevant and important to their project and why? (10 Minutes from each project within the Legal and Policy cluster).
  • 14:40: Discussion: Identifying synergies between projects on the lessons learnt and experiences to date.

(Outcome: Identify the progress of projects within the cluster and to identify commonalities and differences between projects in relation to IPR )

  • 15:00: Refreshment Break
  • 15:20: Guest speaker: Frederick Friend. Significance of legal issues in relation to Digital Repositories.
  • 15:50: Discussion – The impact of institutional barriers and cultures in relating to institutional repositories

(Outcome: Experiences of institutional challenges faced by projects)

  • 16:20: Rights and Rewards – Rights solution: licences looked at/chosen (Steve Loddington)
  • 16:40: Discussion – Different licences looked at by projects and reasons for use.

(Outcome: Identify a range of research and teaching material licences and their suitability for use).

  • 17:00: Closing remarks (Neil Jacobs)
  • 17:15: Close

Agenda: Day Two - 13th December 2006

  • 09:00: Opening remarks (Charles Oppenheim)
  • 09:10: Creative Commons Study (Hugh Look,

(Outcome: Case study on Creative Commons licences in relation to repositories and our projects)

  • 09:30: Institutional development packs – Trust DR project
  • 10:10: Discussion: Institutional development packs and advocacy materials

(Outcome: Identify different advocacy and development materials and highlight any cross over’s and gaps)

  • 10:45: Refreshment break
  • 11:00: Discussion paper – HEFCE IPR in eLearning report (see supporting materials)

(Outcome: To identify important aspects of this report and discuss the recommendations of the report).

  • 11:45 Help offered and help wanted (e.g. IPR advocacy materials developed or desired) (Steve Loddington).

(Outcome: Identify materials that maybe required by projects’. Highlight documentation that projects have created).

  • 12:00: Discussion: recommendations and future actions (Naomi Korn, JISC IPR consultant).

(Outcome: Identify future areas of work and overall meeting outcomes)

  • 12:45: Closing remarks (Charles Oppenheim)
  • 13:00: Close

Day 1: Introduction, Neil Jacobs

Neil introduced the event and discussed the intended outcomes of the meeting. Its aim was to review developments in the legal and policy area, and make recommendations for future developments and dissemination. The group will review and share project experiences related to legal and policy issues, and review new developments in the area outside of the programme. Such developments include: the JISC-SURF toolkit and license to publish; the HEFCE report; the impact of the Gower report; the upcoming license registry project, and other relevant studies (IPR on derived data; Web2.0 and IPR; IPR and access management). It will then make recommendations to relevant stakeholders (JISC, Funding Councils, Institutions, and Projects (and the wider development community)) about future actions and inform the planning of the legal strand at the end of programme conference.

Key statements from project introductions

Rights and Rewards

  • Most institutions have no clear and available IPR policies
  • Possible model licenses have been identified (see later section)
  • Loughborough policy (as illustration): the University owns copyright but will always view negotiations with the academic favourably; when academics move institution they should, at least, leave a copy of their materials.

Trust DR

  • Three areas need to be examined for progress in IPR and related policy development: Legal; Educational; Resource management/ technical.
  • The main deliverable an institutional development pack is designed to kick start policy development; the project has also produced an educational analysis document for the QAA.
  • A holistic approach is required. The traditional organic bottom up model from most elearning development will not work.
  • IPR is lightning conductor for issues of: ownership, control, power, status
  • Business models from other sectors need to be used to inform the educational community.
  • The current de facto model of teaching material development and use is individual and isolated


  • Examining what the academic sector actually gets from a geospatial repository?
  • Conclusion that Ordinance Survey materials may actually be covered by database rights rather than copyright right.
  • OFT report published that is generally critical of public sector data holders.


  • Interviews and surveys about copyright issues have been carried out with academics (powerpoint summaries of which are available on the Versions website).
  • Their responses also indicate that academics don’t know enough about the IPR implications of different versions


  • Have developed a prototype national etheses service; the continuation and development of which is being considered by the British Library. Part of their work has been a scoping of IPR issues for such a service.
  • The IPR issues for born digital new theses are more straightforward and appropriate use of third-party material can be monitored and supported by training for new postgraduates.
  • The retrospective conversion of existing theses is more complex and requires the development of an appropriate business model.
  • Retrospective conversion will also have to address problems with orphaned works and third-party material, an initial approach is to develop an opt out system - digitise the works and put them online and withdraw materials if necessary. Insurance may be useful.

OpenDOAR/ Sherpa Romeo

  • Neither service explicitly deals with IPR policies at moment, but similar services are provided (such as, JULIET (funder’s policies) [and OpenDOAR’s guideline policy generator for repositories]).


  • Still in R&D phase.
  • Its target audience is UK tertiary education. There is an institutional basis to membership; institutions sign and then teaching staff can contribute, access, and repurpose (no redeposit/ republication – but no clear demand for this). Current (Dec 06) membership statistics are: 58 deposit licenses (200 individuals able to contribute), 301 user licenses, 2328 downloads to date, 1948 objects.
  • The license is based on the Jisc model license. It remains a paper-based license administered by HEFCE, though this is transferring to JISC Content. The terms of the license are: Non exclusive royalty free non-commercial annotate compile etc. Materials should only be accessible in secure networks (e.g. using Athens authentication).
  • A Creative Commons license was unsuitable as it has no provision for database rights, or third party material and it can’t cope with technical limitations on access or institutional ownership.
  • In the future it is hoped that a more flexibility license may possible to allow use outside of tertiary education possibly including commercial use and sale of materials. /
  • There are also concerns over the communication of rights and preservation of rights when objects are made available in different systems (e.g. in a VLE).

Discussion Summary


There continues to be a lot of ignorance about legal and policy issues and a pressing need for more education. In many settings however, it remains unclear who owns what and what the law actually is. There is a need for guidelines and codes of practice.

Attitudes and policy development

Alongside this educational drive however, there is a need to revisit what is understood by fair-dealing including revisiting the agreement between JISC and publishers.

Investigations of the actual attitudes of academics to the ownership of teaching materials suggest that academics like to share; but are concerned about the commercial exploitation of their teaching materials (unless there is some form of profit-sharing).

Jorum’s license is seen to have some difficulties – especially in light of JISC’s commitment to Open Access and in dealing with hybrid content (locally generated assets with some external/commercial components).

It should be remembered that if the educational sector en masse decided to take a particular view about IPR policy, it could do so. The most significant impediment to clarity about IPR and ‘political’ influence to make it work is the culture of tertiary education.

Risk and Business cases

There is also a need to make progress understanding a learning object economy. There are two aspects to this:

  • Business cases for sharing teaching and learning objects need to be developed. For example: MIT open courseware – MIT paid for their courses to be released; OU’s open learning is project funded to investigate if it’s sustainable;
  • Risk needs to be quantifyied (such risk may not necessarily be economic but there needs to be greater understanding of the risks in this area).

A current example of the need for a business case is:

  • UCL, who are trying to develop a mandate for deposit of research outputs/ thesis (parallel to QueenslandUniTech policy). Currently RAE outputs are mandated and research theses will be, but a long-term business case is needed to secure the deposit of research outputs. (ASIDE: Theses copyright issues have proved most thorny - etheses cannot have opt out system. They have an auto-deposit system, but are not exposed by default; students have a right to embargo.

An illustration of a successful business case (albeit with print materials) is:

  • COLEG, who have been sharing of materials for 12 yrs. Their model is that if a college lecturer deposits teaching materials for 1credit’s worth they can retrieve 10 credits worth. The system is website based and COLEG are now trying this approach with e-materials (using intralibrary). (ASIDE: Sharing materials within colleges can be equally problematic; however, work carried out by the SFEU under their teaching intervention scheme shows a marked effect on class retention rates when (low tech) sharing was in place).

Significance of legal issues in relation to Digital Repositories, Fred Friend

Repositories need for a clear and defined legal and financial relationship with the university and its structure. This embedding allows institutional ownership of decisions and helps answer key questions; such as:

  • Is the repository covered by the university’s insurance?
  • Do internal auditing procedures allow for accountability to external funders?
  • Is there a business plan?

It also ‘should’ help clarify and build the legal relationships repositories need with their contributing authors and help the development of clear policies and clear ‘conditions of deposit’. Repositories should also ensure the relationship with authors is a two-way relationship. They need to notify authors if 3rd party content found in their work, but, as importantly, they also to provide positive feedback such as download statistics.

Repositories also need to establish (or have the mechanism to establish) a legal relationship with third-party content owners. Many issues can be resolved through talking about specific instances and repositories should not be over cautious. They will however, benefit from clear copyright policies and established take-down procedures.

In a parallel manner repositories should develop legal relationships with users of content. Most users are either not aware of the issues or don’t care. As most users are also authors this relationship can be established by making depositing authors more aware of legal issues which will helps raise their awareness as users.


Charlotte Waelde/ Paul Ayris: It would be very useful to know how much academic institutions are asked to remove content, what publishers actually objecting to and what institutions then do about it. This would allow engagement with publishers, could assuage the concerns of publishers and university legal departments.

Q: Why was the JISC/SURF/DFG/Danish library ‘license to publish’ created? A: Some JISC initiatives have, rightly, taken a long time to mature; and inevitably duplicate other work. The SPARC license was unavailable when the initiative began three years ago. The JISC license is also better, in principle, for authors.

Naomi Korn: The development of policies in itself is not enough there is a need to also procedures to support these policies. Policies can be ‘fixed’ but procedures will be more organic. Staff will need to be informed, educated, reminded and procedures support this process.

Discussion: Institutional Challenges

The discussion centred around some emerging policy issues and the challenge of developing support for the repository within senior university staff.

Issues in Institutional Policy

Rewarding staff Charles Oppenheim noted that the Rights and Rewards project had originally intended to experiment with rewarding staff for depositing materials but that the university had prohibited this as it might be expected/ obliged to continue the practice. Mary MacDonald raised the issue that rewarding and highlighting well-used content might be desirable.

Deposit and employment contracts Sol Picciotto had investigated adding a clause to employment contracts about the need to reserve the right to place things into repository. The university had had no objections to the insertion of this clause but opted to wait until the use of such a clause was part of a wider trend or national mandate.

Web 2.0 Charlotte Waelde noted that the growth of Web 2.0 will force institutions to review or develop many of their ICT policies. [Examples of how this will impact repositories might involve metadata policies, firewall policies, and IPR policies- ?]

Adding value to repositories Mary MacDonald noted that there was interest in adding annotations to repositories content.

Involving senior university staff

A key part of developing a repository and policies supporting its operation is the involvement of senior university staff, especially deans and heads of faculties. Such staff have to clearly understand the benefits and want to speak

Paul Ayris indicated that at UCL the process of involving senior staff had been a long-term effort that had involved ongoing low key communication over the course of a number of years. Clearing up misconceptions about repositories and outlining their benefits had been a gradual and ongoing process. One key area of interest to senior staff was usage statistics; in particular, the dramatic growth in the visibility and use of research theses once they were in the repository.

John Casey agreed that repository development is a long term process – one that is often at odds with developments in e-learning which are often project-driven. He observed that developing policies for repositories required senior staff and developers to share a model of how an institution works. One area where this could be problematic was in the differences between research outputs and teaching and learning outputs. Research outputs, once deposited, are fairly static content; teaching and learning outputs will require constant weeding and updating.

Question for JISC:

What tools are there to support gathering and dissemination of stats?

Rights and Rewards – Rights solution: licences looked at/chosen. (Steve Loddington)

The Rights and Rewards project has focused on teaching material repositories. One aspect of their work has been to identify suitable licenses for such a repository. In line with other repository developments, such as Jorum, the project determined that teaching material repositories require a user’s license as well as a depositor’s license

The presentation offered an overview of survey work on academics’ views on and requirements of licensing options and provided a detailed comparison of how a number key licenses match these requirements. The details of the survey and analysis of licenses are not reproduced here [See slides - link]. A few key points will be mentioned.

Commercial use

One of the biggest reservations academics have about licensing is about permitting commercial use of their content, giving someone the right to sell (and presumably profit from) the teaching materials they have produced.


The point was made that technology to support licenses and technology to support DRM are, and should be, distinct.

Creative Commons

An analysis of Creative Commons (CC) licenses has to take account of each license type available through the CC framework. The suitability for use in teaching materials repository is dependent on which version is selected (The CC – non-commercial/no derivatives license backs up most publishers’ licenses).

Licenses deriving from CC

John Casey mentioned that UHI where using an adaptation of CC – UHI Commons – essentially CC within a defined consortium. It was created from a legal mashup of the JISC consortium agreement and the geographically-limited use of CC within the British Columbia education system. UHI Commons is a license within the domain of UHI. On depositing an item the depositor can choose either a regular CC license (to provide allow sharing) or UHI-only ‘CC’ license to allow local sharing. This allows materials to be shared only within the institutional consortium.

Charles Oppenheim indicated that Rights and Rewards had addressed a similar issue with their institution – the need to support flexibility through having both internal and external licenses [presumably to allow sharing only with local users].

Takedown policies

The issue of repository take down policies, touched on briefly in the earlier part of the day re-emerged here. A clear takedown policy provides a guideline to deal with complaints about content. The presence of such a policy may also reassure publishers that a repository is attempting to comply with existing agreements and allow IPR issues to, at least initially, be addressed informally. Accompanying take down procedures allow authors and publishers to know what will happen next if there is no clear resolution to a complaint.

Some concern was raised about instant takedown policies (i.e. policies wherein an asset is removed without investigation whenever a complaint is received). These may be open to exploitation, impinge on legitimate academic freedom, and have a detrimental effect on how academics view the repository. They do however, offer a degree of protection against lawsuits as they demonstrate willingness to comply with IPR legislation. Considering it to be the lesser evil, Jorum has implemented an instant takedown policy.

Related observations

[Neil Jacobs?] mentioned that there is a license registry project in the current capital programme call. There is also an ONIX for license terms project to integrate with library systems [is this part of the call or separate work?].

Sol Picciotto noted that there is a tension between a desire to have standard licensing arrangements and a need for specificity and flexibility in such arrangements.

Questions for investigation

  • What does ‘no derivatives’ mean in the context of a teaching materials repository or eprint repository?
  • What types of content held in Institutional Repositories can a CC license be applied to (or not)?
  • Are users happy to provide a warrant that there are no 3rd party materials in the materials they deposit?

Closing Remarks (Neil Jacobs)

In summing up the issues covered on the day Neil posed a number of questions that had emerged from the day’s themes.

  • Does a top down approach start at the institutional, national, or international level?
  • To what extent should JISC, its development programmes, tools, and advocacy reflect the demands and requirements of content suppliers (teachers or others) and to what extent do we try to change culture?
  • What are the drivers for legal and policy development? RCUK mandates; web2.0; effective practice; better MIS – do these drivers push and pull in the same or different directions?
  • What tools are there to support institutional policy development, inform about rights issues, and otherwise lighten institutional load?
  • What might JISC do in these areas?


Revisit the interpretation of fair dealing, support education about IPR, develop guidelines and toolkits, and investigate better ways to build rights chains (perhaps Shibboleth?).

Day 2: Creative Commons Study (Hugh Look)

Hugh Look (Rightscom) presented an interim review of a JISC-commissioned study into Creative Commons licenses. The final review is available [here]

General Creative Commons (CC) developments

CC presents a number of related licenses each with small tweaks or additional constraints. Choosing which license suits has been made easier with “Freedoms License Chooser” - a new widget on the CC site.

CC has introduced a new optional element into the CC framework - the possibility of including permissions beyond the scope of the CC license by allowing a link to a third-party license or clause to be included in the generated CC license.

Interim findings

Generally UK academics like concept of CC.

There does not appear to be a lot of reuse going on at the moment. Therefore access is the key issue.

There are 2 different debates about the use of CC licenses: a theoretical debate and a pragmatic debate.

Emerging issues

The impact of using a CC license is not yet understood. Issues are likely to emerge however, in the following areas:

  • 3rd party content. Will repositories require some form of indemnity or trust their users? And will this necessitate deposit and user licenses being split?
  • How will other content be protected
  • How does CC interact with diverse content types – e.g. datasets? How does it interact with/ cover database rights ?

Identified problems with CC licensing

  • CC doesn’t leave much room for flexibility
  • In repositories which accept universal deposit: are students trustable?
  • CC doesn’t support any audit trail – ‘owners’ have no idea who is using materials.
  • CC doesn’t address moral rights at all

A ‘creative commons’ approach may be more applicable than a formal CC license.

Actual use of CC licenses

The user’s experience of CC licenses was considered to be outside of the scope of the study as current users of CC licenses are early adopters and will not present the typical use of CC.

Significant use of CC licenses is often tied into the core mission of the organisation. The large adopters of CC licenses – the BBC and the Open University – have chosen CC as it ties into their organisational purpose. It may also serve as a marketing tool for them. It is worth noting however, that the BBC and OU have fairly tight IPR policies to begin with and so are able to assign (or quickly negotiate) to the use of CC licenses for their content.

This led to the observation in discussion the if an organisation’s IPR house is in order - if you know what you’ve got and what you can do with it - CC is not scary. Insecurity about CC is often related to insecurity about IPR in general and not knowing what you’ve got.

Questions emerging

A number of questions emerged from the presentation and discussion.

  • Is there a commitment to have an open access license across UK HE/FE?
  • If so will it be CC, a CC variant, or something else?
  • What kind of license is required?
  • How would such a license deal with database rights, moral rights, Athens authentication?
  • Is JISC yet in a position to produce simple understandable boxes for legal code?
  • Can the definition of reuse be clarified?
  • Using FOI, could a national registry of IPR policies be created? (could be grim…)

Institutional development packs – Trust DR project. (John Casey, Jackie Proven)


  • The TrustDR project builds on QAA study which examined what the education system might look like if elearning systems were implemented.
  • VLE’s and the elearning industry are still very young and underdeveloped.
  • The institutional development pack is aimed at managers, university senior administrators, JISC, Research Councils, and government bodies.

Organisational Issues

In developing the institutional development pack the project developed a clear sense that technical questions are secondary. There is very little coherent digital asset management in the sector and the primary reasons are not technical. Planting technology in institutions will not engender change… Recent work carried out for SURF (by B. Collis/ D. Laurillard) suggests that it is an organisational problem.

IPR continues to be lightning conductor for institutional problems as the introduction of technology highlights existing problems and makes the invisible visible. Problems not recognised in face to face interaction become visible.

The emergence of learning design etc. shows that we don’t know and can’t assume how teachers work.


There is very little documented reuse of learning objects at this point and there is an implicit assumption that e-learning models from industry and defence are transferable as they stand.

Studies about decontextualised learning object creation in the UKEU are a catalogue of disaster and pointless efforts.

The implication of this is that reuse does not happen much in traditional education. There is no clear understanding of why reuse should happen/ what the case for it is.

A way forward

e-learning introduces a fundamental change in business model and political economy in an institution. Moving forward with e-learning begins with basic record keeping as the KEY starting point.

Institutions need to realise that “in most cases materials are not valuable – the process is: the teachers, the brand, the infrastructure, the experience”. Enforcing strict control over all teaching materials misses this point. The pack suggests that academics should have right to keep their ‘unbranded’ materials.

Management of IPR for teaching and learning materials should be in the library – NOT the research or commercialisation office. The organisational culture and raison d’etre of these organisations is in the wrong direction.


The suggestion that the management of IPR should be solely by the library proved contentious. It was felt that there had to be a balance between the commercial and non-commercial interests of education. Commercialism is often disconnected from a university’s core business and core source of funding – teaching and learning – but this has to be balanced by the view that IPR often produces funding to offset budget reductions and that this has become a key feature of emerging business models. (Paul Ayris, Sol Picciotto, Naomi Korn)

Hugh Look commented that universities should remember that for many commercial companies in most settings it isn’t the patent that is important so much as getting there first.

Sol Picciotto commented that there is a need for some evaluation [of the use and reuse of materials (?)]. Given JISC’s long-standing involvement in e-learning; are there reviews of the outcomes and use of materials they have created?

John Casey added that [TENCOMPETENCE or UNFOLD(?)] had concluded that the skillset assumed by learning object design does not exist in mainstream education. It is not part of teacher- or lecturer- training or their required skillset.

There is also a need for a national IPR policy register.

Discussion Paper: HEFCE IPR in E-Learning Report

Small discussion group 1

There is quite often no business or intellectual property model for creation of learning materials (electronic or otherwise), and the development of materials sits within teaching policy. However, most of a university’s income is from teaching. Therefore, an small efficiency increase in teaching and learning could be far more cost-effective than chasing the RAE. An example of this was the case study of Falkirk college where retention rates improved drastically when teachers switched to using common materials (in this case sharing a common textbook).It was observed that there is an overall need for teaching to move from a subsistence model of production to an industrial model of production qualitative research is needed on this. (Mary MacDonald, Steve Loddington, John Casey)

Main group

Sol Picciotto commented that the report was very valuable in raising awareness of the issues around value and ownership, but that there was a need to further tease these notions of value and of ownership apart. These are complex matters, that need more carefully unpacked. For example, Changes in teaching practice which move towards collaborative teaching models, should encourage universities to attempt to acquire non-exclusive rights rather than exclusive rights over materials produced by their staff.

Paul Ayris noted that UCL are considering moving towards a non-exclusive license. Charlotte Waelde noted that a good way to initially deploy such licenses would be to incorporate them into new staff contracts.

John Casey mentioned that the Jisc Infonet’s CAMEL project had produced advice for managers to help develop collaborative support mechanisms to foster trust and develop communities of practice. John also highlighted the need for ring-fenced funding from Research Councils or the government to appoint people for management of IPR of teaching and learning materials in each university– parallel to the way commercialisation officers are provided.

Group exercise: Help Offered/Help Wanted (Steve Loddington)

The group under took an exercise which aimed to enhance collaboration amongst delegates, prior to the event. Delegates were given the opportunity to identify any help they might offer others and the assistance which they would like to recieve.

This word document highlights the outcomes of the exercise.

Recommendations & future actions (Naomi Korn, JISC IPR Consultant)

The meeting split into groups to discuss recommendations along the following themes that have emerged from this meeting:

Evaluating risk

  • Take an established risk assessment tool customise and apply
  • JISC should advise universities that they have to accept degree of risk
  • A sample risk assessment policy, building on JISC SURF work, should be made available
  • Notice and takedown regimes should be the norm for repositories (as risk assessment exercise)
  • There should be a clearing house of the use of notice and take down policies- so the community knows what is going on
  • There should be an overview study of intellectual property policies which can identify risk.
  • There should be some form of risk registry – a ranking and assessment of risks that are likely to be encountered by HEI/FEIs
  • The owner of IPR policy in each institution should be identified (by JISC)

Reuse issues

  • JISC should produce guidance on when a derivative becomes a new object should be produced –a parallel to the Versions project. As a starting point, the British Columbia license has definitions of versions and derivatives
  • JISC should get feedback from past experiences through thinking more about programme exit strategies and the collection of evidence from completed projects (this is inn part related to the current lack of availability of project reports). Programme-level evaluation is important. Programme managers should ensure projects evaluate the lessons they have learnt and make this information available to the community.


  • JISC should get off the fence
  • JISC should lobby institutions
  • Funding councils need to send clear message to institutions about managing IPR by lobbying for ring-fenced funding
  • JISC and the funding councils should ensure their own house is in order
  • JISC should continue to improve relationships with PALS and the publisher’s association etc.

CC license

  • There is increasing variability in the licenses produced; CC in itself is clear so the brand shouldn’t be diluted
  • CC licenses are useless in international partnerships
  • JISC could could create basket of approved options for projects; there may be merit in modelling this approach
  • JISC should investigate:
    • Who uses CC licenses?
    • How CC licenses fit with university policies?

Information gathering

  • The community need to know what IPR policies are
    • FOI may be a useful mechanism to get policies out of institutions
    • JISC should experiment with this/ commission work in this area

Future meetings

  • Future meetings around legal and policy issues are a good idea
  • The meeting is valuable for types of cross-collaboration between technical, policy, management, and legal developments.
  • The group needs an explicit purpose
  • There is a need to think about institutional representation
  • There is a need for FE representation
  • Is there part of JISC that should run this? Is this a service?
  • A wiki would be a good idea
  • Revisiting experience of older e-learning projects might be beneficial
  • A group meeting around the Manchester conference might be useful

Closing remarks (Charles Oppenheim)

In closing Charles noted that this had been a very productive meeting and he hoped that the group would follow up on this meeting in preparation for the legal and policy strand at the final programme event. The group might consider drafting a paper as a discussion point for conference.