Thursday, October 23, 2008

D is for...

Domain! ...Public Domain, that is!

Public domain includes works that are not protected by copyright. This means a work can be used any way you see fit, without asking permission or paying for it. Lovely! Once a work is in the public domain, it stays there, and will never (or never again) be under restrictions of copyright law.

It sounds too good to be true, you say? Remember, this applies to the original public domain work. If a work has been altered, modified, updated, or changed in any way, copyright restrictions will apply. Be careful!

The important question, then, is "how do I know if something is in the public domain?"

Again, a few basics for those of us in the real world.
Public domain includes:
  • Facts! Good ol' facts cannot be copyrighted. Notes, interpretations, descriptions, etc about them can be, however.
  • Non-human created works. (If you have caught yourself wondering if a chimpanzee wrote it, and it turns out they actually did, it's in the public domain! Chances are, you won't want to use it, though)
  • "Works created by the U.S. Federal government employees during the course of their duties" (Simpson, 2005). Yes, you can dress up and recite the Gettysburg Address to teach about the Civil War.
  • Works published before January 1, 1923 (This may not be so helpful or relevant to those of us teaching younger students)

Of course, there are many other ways a work can work its way into public domain, but they are less common, and less likely to be encountered in our classrooms.

(Want more information? Refer to Ch 2 of the Simpson text.)

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

C is for...


This topic is far far faaaarrrr too big and broad to get into depth here without quoting the entirety of Simpson's Chapter 4, "Print Materials in Schools," p. 49-68, and that would definitely violate fair use.

Let's keep it simple. A few BASIC things to think about before you run off to the copy machine in those last 3 minutes before the bell rings:
  • Good news! If you become "inspired" to use something last minute (that is, there is not enough time to request permission to use it), you can go ahead & copy it to use. You may not, however, use it the following year (semester, etc) without obtaining permission.
  • It is never, never, never acceptable to copy something intended to be "consumable," even if you need to make just one more for a new student or a substitute. (Really??!! Just ONE more?!?! Yes, really.)
  • Copying a print source to an audio version is equivalent to photocopying each page of the work. (See "B is for..." entry).
  • Using a postermaking machine to enlarge a textbook page is covered by fair use, as long as the original photocopy is destroyed.
  • Using a small number of graphics to support instruction is acceptable, but using them simply for decorative purposes is not.
  • Recognizable characters (from books, cartoons, comics, etc) may not be used for murals, worksheets, etc. A page from a print source that was purchased may be displayed, however.

This is just a very brief overview, of course, but I found these to be the topics to be most relevant to a classroom teacher. If you can wait for the letter "K" we just might get into the Katsenmeier Report, which lays out more specifics.

Happy photocopying!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

B is for...

Books on tape!

This is a favorite of elementary teachers. It makes for a fantastic reading center, a great way to build confidence in struggling readers, and is motivating for young students. If purchased from a publisher, it's 100% legal.

Many teachers will have a parent volunteer, fluent student reader, or will make their own books on tape. I have read it suggested in many books, websites, and even had an administrator suggest to have my students make their own. I was surprised to find that all of these do-it-yourself ideas (despite their many benefits) are in violation of copyright law. As Simpson notes on p. 56, this is only allowed by fair use standards if 2 pages or 10% of the book is used. I don't know many classroom teachers who only encourage a student to read or listen to that much of a story. (I can't think of many students who would stop after 2 pages or 10%, either). I am curious about why so many "professional" sources suggest creating these resources for classroom use when it is in direct violation of copyright laws. Perhaps there needs to be more professional development on this topic. I know that up until now, the only reason I had not taken the advice to create my own books on tape was a lack of resources and technology in my classroom.

A is for....


That's a big chunk of many copyright issues. It's a common misconception that if you acknowledge a source, it's OK to use it, no matter what. Citing a source does not imply you have permission to use it (Simpson, 2005). That's the rule for today!

My main source for this blog will be our text, so I'm going to acknowledge it right now. (After reading a bit, I understand I DO have permission to use it this way). :)

Simpson, Carol. (2005). Copyright for schools: A practical guide, Fourth edition.
Worthington, OH: Linworth Books.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Day 1...

I admit, I'm no expert on copyright.

After viewing several other blogs and skimming through some of our text, I wonder if I have made any copyright violations in my college or teaching days. (I hope not!) There are so many times I will run to make a quick copy or share something with my students or a colleague, and never think twice about copyright.

Hopefully, soon I'll have some basics up here for people like me, busy teachers (or busy people in general) who find something great and want to share it (without breaking any laws!).