Sunday, October 19, 2008

Why Should We Care?

While it is true that many copyright violations go unnoticed in schools, there is still a chance that your school may be found guilty of violation copyright policies. Usually a publisher of a book or software will contact your school with a notice of the violation. This may lead to legal action upon the school district. However, there are more serious implications that may occur to individuals within the school. Those who are involved may be found guilty of copyright infringement and may face serious penalties. These penalties can include fines of anywhere from $750 to $30,000 per work. But, who is responsible for copyright violations within the school? Usually liability begins with the teacher. The teacher may choose to use a work within the classroom without permission or outside the range of fair use. The teacher may also be aware of students who are misusing copyright. If he or she does not do anything to stop it, the teacher can be held responsible. Also, the technician may be held responsible. If the technician is monitoring computer use and notices activity that violates copyright, then the technician must stop the activity. If the activity is not stopped, the technician may be held responsible. Next is the librarian. Many times copyright violation takes place within the library. The librarian must monitor activities and ensure that copyright policies are being upheld. Finally, the principal may also be held responsible. The principal should be aware of activities going on within the school. He or she should set up a copyright policy and ensure that the policy is being enforced. All of the above named may be found guilty of infringement. This is why it is so important for media specialists to make other aware of copyright policies and to report violations to the principal. I never knew that copyright was such a huge issue. The person who misuses the information is not the only person responsible. What do you think about the implications of infringement?

Monday, October 13, 2008

Who's in Charge?

So, your district has put a copyright policy in place. Great! But, who is going to enforce it? Is it going to be the teachers? Well, probably not. As we already talked about, teachers usually overlook copyright in favor of educational value. They may honestly feel that they are not breaking copyright laws because the content is being used for an educational purpose. The school media specialist is the person in the school who should know the most about copyright. He or she should educate the school community on how to uphold copyright standards because the media specialist is going to be the person who is providing the information to the members of the school. However, is it fair to ask the media specialist to enforce the copyright policy? Not really. This can cause hostility towards the media specialist from the other teachers and members of the community. According to Simpson, the principal should be the person enforcing the policy within the school. The media specialist should let the principal know if violations are occurring. The principal can then work on correcting these violations so the school will remain protected from the law. This is a tricky situation because the media specialist may wish to remain neutral. The media specialist at my school told me that she just ignores copyright situations because she doesn't want to know and she feels there is nothing she can do about it. But, if the school falls under questioning for copyright violations, she may be in some hot water. I am going to be talking about who is responsible for copyright violations within a school and what the consequences are of violation in an upcoming posting. Who, if anyone, enforces copyright in your district? Who do you think should be responsible? Do you think the media specialist should report violations to the principal, or do you think they should ignore the situation? These are important questions to think about when working as a media specialist.

Simpson, C. (2005). Copyright for schools, A practical guide. Worthington, OH: Linworth Publishing.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Copyright Policy

Now that we discussed fair use within the schools, how do we ensure that these guidelines are being implemented. One way is to create a copyright policy within the school. Why would we want to do that? So that our school understands what is expected when it comes to copyright. This will give the students, teachers, and administrators a specific idea of what the law is and how it is to be upheld. It will also help to set standard consequences if the policy is broken. It should be made known to the school community so that each member understands the importance of copyright. Do any of your schools have a copyright policy in place? Does it work? Do people know about it? I would like to have feedback on what is happening in your schools.

Here is a link to several school's copyright policies:

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Copyright Guidelines for Schools

Many of us are teachers. As teachers, the belief is often that if materials will help our students learn, then we are able to use it. This is not always the case. Educational use is not a free pass to unlimited copying. To understand what materials are permissible, we must look at a set of guidelines that give us a rule of thumb to turn to when using materials. These guidelines are called the fair use policy. Schools must consider these guidelines when using material that is not theirs. They are us follows:
1. The purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature, or is for nonprofit educational purposes.
2. The nature of the copyrighted work.
3. The amount and substantiality if the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole.
4. The effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.

So, what does this mean to schools? Well, as a school, the nature of the use is for a nonprofit, educational purpose. We must also look at how much of the material is going to be used. Guidelines are in place to help schools know what is appropriate and what is not. I am going to be going into that in future postings. Teachers must also decide if the use of the material in the classroom will cut back on the author's profits. If it will, it is not fair use. Finally, copyright is not something that can be ignored. With so many lawsuits going on, schools must ensure that they are on the safe side. When in doubt, it is better to use less material than more. It is going to be my goal to make it easier to understand how we can maintain copyright within our schools.

Simpson, C. (2005). Copyright for schools, A pratical guide (4th ed.). Worthington, OH: Linsworth.