Archive for the ‘copyright’ tag
This is a post for #addcym discussion tonight. Follow the #addcym hashtag on Twitter for more info.
For me, one of the main barriers to teachers sharing on a public forum is fear of breaching copyright. This has been regularly brought home to us in a county where a school was successfully sued by a photographer for illegal use of his image on their website. The thing that gives this story an extra sting is that they had sought permission from the person who had on their site. it just turns out that they were using it illegally too!
There is a lot of misunderstanding about copyright, but for many teachers the easiest solution is to only share within their school, and behind a password (usually these days via some kind of VLE). Sharing does take place (both historyshareforum.com and the Rhannu part of the NgfL website prove that), but even there, many people only share a small porportion of what they create.
The reality is that in the production of the vast majority of the resources we create we are ‘standing on the shoulders of giants’, taking bits from other textbooks, ppts etc and mashing them up into something that work for us, in that school, with that particular group of students. The issue is that at the same time we make those resources unshareable.
That said, if everyone in Wales shared 1% of what they produced there’d be a massive bank of ideas for others to call on, develop and improve. 1 There are a few simple ways that we can easily make the resources we create suitable for sharing.
1. Share the activity, not the text.
If you’ve created an activity that was based on a preexisting resource, share the context and let people sub in their own text. For example, to introdce the Merthyr Rising to my sixth formers, we set the question ‘Should Dic Penderyn Die?’. Half the class researched the evidence in favour of his execution, the other half tried to find the evidence to support the view that he shouldn’t hang. The text itself came from a textbook, but that could easily be replaced with information from the internet or another book. The idea itself though can be shared.
2. Use Creative Commons.
Creative Commons is an alternative licencing arrangement to copyright, where the holders of the rights agree to allow others to use them within certain limits, providing credit is given. A growing number of image sites give the option of searching for creative Commons content through the advanced search option, Flickr has a growing number of historical images being shared via the site and wikipedia’s image library wikimedia commons has a growing number of CC images. You can also find creative commons music online.
If you’re planning on investing some time and effort into sharing resources and there’s a particular image, source or video you really want to use, try firing off a quick email to the copyright holders. If you explain that you’re a teacher and the finished product won’t be sold for profit, many people are happy to grant free use.
Let me know in the comments what I’ve missed. Then all we need to do is persuade teachers that what they’re producing really is worth sharing…
- Of course, then there’s the issue of how we organise these, but that’s for another day ↩
I’ve had a number of questions in the last few days as we do a big push on the VLE in gain time about copyright and the VLE. To address these questions as much as I can I’ve written the following page to go on our help page.
I’m putting it up here not as an example of what is right, but simply as what I’ve got so far, and in the hope that if you know better, or have any suggestions on how you could be improved you leave a comment below!
Copyright and the VLE
The law sees a VLE as an extension of the classroom as long as those areas are secure behind a password that only our students can access. This is the case for all the courses beyond the departmental homepage.
The rules about photocopying articles or sections from a book apply to scanning and making them available on the VLE. You can view the current schools CLA licences here, but basically you can scan a section as a pdf file and add it as a file for students to access. When you do this you must attribute it correctly, including the name of the book and author and follow the rules amount how much of any given text you can copy.
Any resources that you create you can share. Obviously copyright applies to resources you produce as much as anything else. As such you shouldn’t be including copyrighted materials (including images) in your powerpoints and word documents without first getting clearance from the copyright holder.
One way round this is to use images and music released under a Creative Commons rather than a copyright license. Flickr allows you to search for Creative Commons images and Wikimedia Commons contains thousands of materials that are copyright free for various reasons. This site allows you to search a range of sites for creative commons images, music and video, although it’s not the easiest to use site in the world. Many places are happy to grant copyright uses in an education context, just email them and ask.
One grey area is resources that other people have produced. Most resources that teachers have put online via places like NGfL Cyrmu or the Teachers Resource Exchange are free to use in classrooms and VLEs. If you’re in any doubt just email the person whose site you are using to check they are happy. Many teachers I know put it up, email and then remove it only if they are explicitly told to. While I’m no lawyer and wouldn’t like to comment on whether this follows the letter of the law, it does seem to be common practice and reasonable given that the material is restricted only to students of this school.
I am happy to try and help with any specific inquiries you have, but it is worth pointing out that this whole area of VLE development is new and so the law remains very vague in many places. However both the UK and Welsh Assembly governments are pushing schools to use them in this way, and the whole concept of copyright is being reconsidered in the light of digital innovation.
Be reasonable, ask when you can, and where possible use copyright free materials, but don’t let copyright fear stop you from developing great learning resources!