As English teachers, we carefully craft writing assignments, rubrics, and lectures to teach students the merits of academic integrity and the pitfalls of plagiarism, but sometimes (hopefully unintentionally) we forget to take our own advice. Breaking copyright laws can negatively impact educational publishers and land teachers in hot water. Today, I’d like to look at some of the issues around copyright in the classroom. Please note: I am not a lawyer, and the best way to know for sure that you are appropriately using copyrighted materials is to:
- When in doubt, ask the author or publisher for permission to use a resource.
- Check out more at Copyright.gov.
Most of what we use in the classroom falls under copyright law and as teachers, we should be an example of respect to authors, creators, and publishers. Classroom teachers are given certain leniencies under the fair use exception, which allows limited use of a copyrighted work without permission for purposes such as teaching, research, scholarship, criticism, parody and news reporting, but we are not immune to copyright restrictions and we MUST be mindful of how we use all kinds of copyrighted materials, including (but not limited to) published reading guides from Secondary Solutions and other educational resources. Unless they are sure that something has been published under Creative Commons or is currently in the public domain, teachers must legally respect the rights of the author, which include:
- the right to copy (see exceptions below)
- the right to create derivative works
- the right to sell, lease, or rent copies of the work to the public
- the right to perform the work publicly
- the right to display the work publicly
What Teachers MAY Do With Copyrighted Materials Like Secondary Solutions Guides:
- Teachers may photocopy materials for use in the classroom.
- Teachers may post materials to closed or password protected websites. The site must only be accessible to students currently enrolled in the course and not to the general public or other teachers.
- Teachers may use the information to prepare lectures and classroom activities.
What Teachers MAY NOT Do with Copyrighted Materials Like Secondary Solutions Guides:
- Teachers may not distribute to other teachers. Unless the teacher has purchased multi-user or bulk licensing directly from 4SecondarySolutions.com, he or she may not email the PDF or photocopy the book for other teachers’ use in the classroom.
A note about public domain: Public domain is not synonymous with “found on the internet”. Images, articles, charts, and other resources published on the internet are not necessarily open for public distribution without permission. Teacher beware.
We’d love to hear your questions, comments, and concerns when it comes to copyright in the classroom! Thank you for stopping by.