Sunday, May 13, 2012

Week One Reading: Copyright Issues

Week One Reading: Copyright Issues

Copyright laws seem to have many grey areas.  I am always uncertain and try to err on the safe side.  My school district was in a copyright dispute with a publishing company a few months ago.  The following link from the Toledo Blade newspaper explains what is going on:
The claim states “Align, Assess, Achieve entered into a copyright license agreement with TPS for company books and materials that provide teacher guidance in meeting the Common Core education standards… TPS could only use the works to prepare pacing guides for the teachers for whom the district had bought the company's book.  Despite the agreement, according to the complaint, TPS in August had teachers transcribe the copyrighted work in its entirety. The district later posted the copies on its intranet, making it available to all teachers, the company claims. TPS falsely attributed authorship of the unauthorized electronic versions of the AAA copyrighted works to the teachers the district employed as scriveners to steal AAA's intellectual property."
The attorney for my district is quoted as saying, "We don't believe there's any validity to the claim.” 
Teachers were not given any further information as to how the dispute was settled.  However, the pacing guides were removed from the employee intranet for a few months before being put back up, so we assume the claim has been dismissed. 
In searching for more information on how printed material can be used by a classroom teacher, I found the following source helpful:  “Reproduction of Copyrighted Works by Educators and Librarians” This article can be found at the following link:

This is a wordle incorporating text from the article:

I found the Good Copy / Bad Copy video to be very fascinating.  I think the Nigerian filmmaker summed up how copyright laws are to be followed succinctly:

“If you don’t have permission, you can’t use it.”

I learned that it is all about getting permission, not about money at all.  I often wonder about showing movies at school. I have seen schools who host family movie nights.  They rent a DVD, and project it in the gym for families to watch together.  I am hesitant to participate; are they breaking copyright laws by showing the video in a large gathering like that, with over 100 people viewing?  Most teachers reply it is OK because they are not charging for it.  I question if they have permission.

Another quote I pondered from Good Copy / Bad Copy was “We don’t want to look at this from the negative angle…copyright is not about stopping people from using your work, but getting them to use your work legally and giving you money for what they have done with your work.”

I think that makes so much sense.  I am not opposed to sharing lessons I have created with others, in fact I believe collaboration is the most crucial tool for teachers today.  However, I do want to be recognized for the work I have done in creating these lessons.  A site like allows for teachers to share lessons, be recognized as the creator, and make money for the intellectual work provided.


  1. Amanda Rhymer May 3, 2012 7:10 PM

    I couldn't agree with you more, Cindi! Our school shows AP Films every couple of weeks and I always think the same thing. I thought there was a limit to the number of people who could view a video at the same time or it violated copyright. I have used other teacher's work before, found while scouring the internet, but I always try to include their name on the work somewhere. Or, if I change it up to suit my class, I give them credit for the original. I didn't think that was such a big deal when I first started teaching. Then I went to a county-wide science teachers meeting once, and a former co-worker was there passing off one of my worksheets as her own. After that, I put my name on all of my work!

    1. Cynthia MadanskiMay 4, 2012 1:08 PM
      I too like to re-use lessons I have found on the internet, but always give credit to who created it. It's so funny you said that; I had the same thing happen to me once! I created a geometry foldable a few years back, and shared it with lots of Mathematics teachers I know. Then I saw my exact idea being presented by a district peer Math coach like it was her own! I had no problem with her using it for the PD, but it was a shock to hear her taking credit for it when teachers were "oohing and aahing" over it. I can certainly understand why artists feel slighted when there work is not credited.

  2. Rodolfo FernandezMay 4, 2012 7:29 AM
    This reminds me when I (I think you too), made cassette tapes from music of different LP's for our enjoyment. I used to do tapes for my friends in case that they could not afford the record, or if the record was out of print. Was I violating copyright law? Could be or could be not. I didn't profit from any of those tapes. In case of your movies. was there an instructional or educational purposes for showing the movie? or was for enjoyment only. On education, we can use an extract or a portion of the movie, but, we must credit the source. Same with text and audio.

    Now, in online education, are online courses copyrighted? If you have a professor/teacher that builds a course using content that he/she wrote (book, thesis), is that course protected by copyright? There's a term called "work for hire". This term has created a lot of issues and conflicts where I work and one of the biggest reason why some professors are reluctant to teach online. The university has ownership of the material worked by students and professors. Can the music business and film making industry adapt this method to the artists? I hope not.

    1. Cynthia MadanskiMay 4, 2012 1:13 PM
      Rodolfo, are we showing our age with mixed cassette tapes? I definitely did this a lot back in junior high and high school. It was the coolest present ever when I got a double cassette player boom box so I could play one cassette and record it on the other.

      The movies I am referring to are usually just entertainment, for a family night get together. I have seen teachers and administrators play Disney movies; I am sure Walt would not approve! I my classroom I use United Streaming clips sometimes to introduce an idea, but they play right from the United Streaming site and the logo shows. I have never heard of "work for hire" before. There sure is a lot to think about with copyright!

  3. Faith OlarschMay 4, 2012 11:25 AM
    Response to MAC 1 Week 1 Cynthia Madanski's Blog:

    Amoeba from
    I agree with you Cynthia, in that the law is acting a bit like an amoeba, which can be very unsettling as you navigate the use of information. I think that the TPS dispute is very interesting, and I wonder if you can find out what the resolution was, and who created that resolution. If we asked a lawyer about this particular dispute, I bet they would say that this happens often. They might say the process really is the nature of a new law becoming refined. I would ask my lawyer friend, but when she begins to speak in legalities I find her very intimidating. I avoid legal conversations when possible to maintain the happiness in her presence.

    Amoeba from shutter
    I like the idea of using creative commons markings on your work, that way you are providing the answer to everyone before they have to ask about using your work. I must say, the process feels a little strange, the idea of adding that bit of protection to your work feels unsettling if you think of the work as property. Perhaps we should think of the creative commons license as good communication instead.

    Thank you for sharing the Teachers pay Teachers link!

    1. Cynthia MadanskiMay 4, 2012 1:15 PM
      Our district attorney is not sharing what the outcome was. They tend to keep things behind closed doors. TeachersPayTeachers has some great resources on it, I have purchased a few over the years. I have considered selling on it, but have not yet. I may start selling after we graduate :)

  4. Wow... so all four posts into one page... great for finding your work... but commenting might get a bit messy.... Your copyright comments are totally right-on, that one must get permission to use media and schools are some of the worse at violating this, mostly due to sloppy thinking. Renting a video to show as a fund raiser is a brilliant idea except for the part that the rental is clearly licensed for private performance and the school gym is anything but private. Ack. Then buying materials from a company only to share them in a way that wasn't clearly understood... that's why creative commons and sites like your teacherspayteachers is incredible. Thanks for sharing.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts on your leadership project. Thanks for accepting the challenge to do something new. Good luck.

    1. JBB,
      Thanks for your comments. I was attempting to set my blog up to have a tab for each week to keep things organized, but I am not satisfied with how the comments then move to the bottom of the week. After spending some time trying to get it figured out and realizing the comments can be changed, I am copy/pasting the posts to my main blog page and getting rid of the tabs.

      I will share this copyright information with administration and parent groups and hopefully the school will be more careful about showing movies in the school gymnasium!