How many of us consider copyright in our day to day teaching lives? Do we understand the significance of copyright for us in our everyday teaching activities? Why should we consider copyright? Has working remotely changed our use of published texts and resources?

In my early career, all we had in my school was a photocopier and I made lots of worksheets by photocopying pages from books and resources, cutting and sticking and then copying again. I had a vague understanding of copyright, but I never considered that I may have been infringing it, in my quest for the perfect resource.1

Now we are in world where it takes only seconds to cut and paste distribute one’s work globally and for that, thousands of teachers are very grateful for the sharing of expertise and the ease with which resources can be passed on and reproduced. When we post our work on social media we do so with an ‘implied licence’ that our work can be used by others for others. However, there are times when the use of this work could be considered as an infringement of intellectual property[2]

During lockdown I have been looking for ways my students can access resources away from school, especially as my school community serves a very financially deprived area and our families cannot afford to buy copies of texts to have at home. To overcome this, we would need to scan copies of our set texts and share them via our electronic learning platform. However, are we breaking copyright if we do this, even if we have bought the texts themselves?

Copying and distributing texts: what is legal?

While conducting searches for texts and resources, I have come across several schools posting scanned copies of texts on their school website. For example, copies of novels and plays, copies of revision guides. This is done with the best of intentions for our students but, is the law being broken when we do this? If so, what could the consequences be for our organisation.

Some schools working with financially disadvantaged students and with very tight budgets may consider copying texts guides for students. Sometimes this is legal where a licence has been bought to do so, sometimes no licence has been bought. Are schools and teachers aware of the law and aware of the consequences of breaking copyright?

Do we need a new approach to digitising texts in copyright and would this help address the disadvantage gap?

Yes I believe so. If school had access to digital versions of class readers, plays, and poetry collections it would go some way to addressing the disadvantage gap. How? We can distribute copies of the text via learning platforms, students could then download to their own devices, to use without being online, I firmly believe this would help. We would need to build new habits and consider the research on reading electronically, but this would be of clear benefit to many students and their parents. (Please see below for information on CLA’s Education Platform).

If you enjoyed Part 2, make sure you read Copy, Cut, Catastrophe Part 1: Copyright and Intellectual Property

Please note that this blog post should not be considered legal advice, and if in doubt we always advise to seek permission directly from rightsholders where a licence is not available. To find out more about what can be copied under the CLA Education Licence, please visit: https://cla.co.uk/licencetocopy

References:

https://www.bl.uk/business-and-ip-centre/articles/how-to-avoid-copyright-infringement

https://www.gov.uk/intellectual-property-an-overview

CLA’s Education Platform

If you’re a teacher looking to access digital versions of books your school owns and make copies to share with your students, then you should consider registering for the Education Platform. The Education Platform is a new way for teachers to make copyright-compliant copies from textbooks and is available to all UK schools covered by the licence at no additional cost. All state-funded schools and most independent schools are covered by our licence to make copies for teaching. The licence fee is paid centrally by your national education authority, including the DfE in England and the education bodies in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Find out more by visiting educationplatform.co.uk