Sunday, November 1, 2015

Teachers and Copyright

Sites where teachers can sell resources to one another are becoming more popular. Teachers Pay Teachershas been around for a number of years, and some teachers make over a million dollars from the sale of these products. Now, other sites are springing up, like TES. Another website, Edmodo, a social networking site for education, has recently opened up Spotlight where teachers can recommend or sell resources. The CEO of Edmodo recently traveled to the White House to promote Spotlight at the Open Education Symposium.

Other teachers are creating content like books and video lessons that fellow teachers can benefit from using. Teach Like a Champion by Don Lemov already has a second version available for sale. Teach Like a Pirate by Dave Burgess is popular. The newest books circulating the education circles are about Genius Hour, and the Growth Mindset, like the Innovator's Mindset by George Couros. Meanwhile, Learn Zillion has had a Dream Team of teachers working on content for their video lessons.

With all of this great creativity and content development happening, it's important that teachers take a closer look at copyright. The district you work for may own the copyright of anything you create while under their employment. This may be the case even if it is not specifically written in your contract. It might be included in a Board Policy, or simply interpreted as a "general rule" in our legal system.

Professors at Universities have been subjected to these copyright laws for decades, if not centuries. Now, the American Association of University Professors is encouraging professors to negotiate Intellectual Property Rights to make it a win-win for the colleges and the professors. In these agreements, the professors retain the Intellectual Property Rights for anything created, but grant the college free use of the material created.

With the move toward Open Education Resources and districts posting materials on the internet for all to access, I believe that districts should be able to freely use and distribute material created by their employees. However, I believe the employees, especially teachers, should retain Intellectual Property Rights and be able to distribute and sell the material to others.

Copyright laws were originally created to "promote the progress of science and useful arts," according to the Constitution. When a district owns fhe copyright of anything their teachers produce, it stifles the creativity of the teachers. I encourage my colleagues at all levels of the education field to find out who owns the copyright of material they create. Whatevervhappens, continue being creative, transformative teachers.

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