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.

8 comments:

Michelle said...

Rebecca- I really like the ABC theme of your blog it seems to be in keeping with the 1st grade teacher in you. Very cute.

On a serious note you mentioned in your third blog entry that more professional development needs to be done on the topic of copyright. I couldn't agree with you more. Our behaviors are models for our students. We can't say one thing and do another, whether we are elementary or high school teachers.

On the other hand, teachers always have the best interests of the students in mind and if that struggling reader would truly benefit from a book on tape most teachers are willing to take his or her chances. It's tough for a teacher to choose the publisher's copyrights over the child's learning needs.

Rebecca said...

Michelle, you make a great point! I'm sure I know plenty of teachers (quite possibly myself included) who could admit to doing something that might have been questionable in regards to copyright in order to benefit their students.

Becca B. said...

That is just it! We always have our students' best interests at heart. Don't get me wrong, I completely understand that the author of work deserves full credit, but come on! We live in the real world and with all the stresses of education and trying to provide the best possible education we can for our students, we then have to worry if our ideas and strategies violate copyright laws. It is a lot of pressure!

Jessica Modrzejewski said...

Rebecca ~
Your blog looks great!! Will be reading more indepth in the upcoming days/week(s), but it looks great! I like how you cited the book -- giving page numbers. Definite plus...

Way to go!
Mrs. M.

Lorena said...

Rebecca,
Just tonight I found some information on this very topic. I found it in relation to copyright for the visually impaired. I too was surprised to note that it was in violation to create audio tapes of books. Sometimes I think we have to loosen the interpretation of fair use especially, as others have noted, when we are benefitting students and not seeking to profit financially in any way.

Louie said...

With the recording of books, what if there isn't one available? I ran into that issue this year with my MN history textbook, Northern Lights. I have students that are unable to read it and I went to the publishers website and there wasn't one available. I started to create a podcast of me reading the first chapter so that we could have it. As was doing that we did find a copy that was made by the MN Association for the Blind. And then of course I stopped and we have purchased copies. But what if I hadn't found a copy? Would I need to contact the publisher and get permission?

Rebecca said...

Louie, GREAT question! I wish I had the answer!! That's a really complicated issue. I know that if you become "inspired" to use something before you had time to request permission, you can use it once, but I wonder how much you can use. As a first grade teacher, I have many students who are unable to read some of the texts we use, and administrators & mentors suggested making audio copies of the books (even though I'm sure it still violates copyright law in this case). We are also a visually impaired school, and I'm sure run into some very similar issues.

I'll be thinking about this one a bit. :)

Steve Gallick said...

The 2-page/10% rule that you described definitely puts a teacher at risk of copyright violations. I am really surprised that an entire do-it-yourself audio book would not fully be protected under 'fair use.' When professional sources are encouraging teachers to violate copyright laws, whether indirectly or not, they put these educators in a tough spot. I agree with others posting here that a majority of teachers will violate the copyright restrictions for the good of their students. Really, they probably aren't even aware that they are technically breaking the law in the first place. I wouldn't have before reading this and the Simpson text.