I’ve just uploaded some homework booklets to my tes.co.uk account - great, I’m all for sharing. 30 minutes later over a coffee and I’m thinking about copyright – not specifically for these booklets, as they are just throw away, photocopiable gap fillers, but the bigger issue of “that killer resource, that one day I might just want to sell”.
So for a few questions:
- Does your school have a policy on sharing resources with outside agencies?
- If I create something in my role as a teacher for XYZ school, who owns the copyright?
- Can I share / sell what I create?
- Does the school need such a policy and should I even care?
Well, in these ever connected times what we upload and share electronically has a habit of hanging round for years to come and today’s throw away resource could become the most downloaded KS4 worksheet in history. We all need to be conversant with the rules and regulations over copyright.
The Copyright Act 1976 states:
Copyrights are generally owned by the people who create the works of expression, with some important exceptions:
If a work is created by an employee in the course of his or her employment, the employer owns the copyright
WOW! – by my reading of this, Newport City Council ultimately owns the copyright to anything that I create in my role as an officer of the company (ie teacher at Newport High School).
Clearly, that copyright statement begs further questions:
- Should I really be making resources to which I don’t own the copyright, freely available? (I know I made them, but I clearly don’t own said copyright)
- Should I ask permission of my school before I upload / share? (By strict reading of the Copyright Act – yes I should as it’s not my copyright to give away)
- Can I sell the resources I make? (No – the copyright is not mine)
- What if the school wants to sell the resources – do I get a percentage? (Again, I imagine not, as I don’t own the copyright)
If you hunt round the inter-web and specifically tes.co.uk you will find literally hundreds & thousands of shared resources, worksheets and general information made by teachers in the course of their work. Who owns them? Clearly from the Copyright Act, their schools / councils do.
Now, realisticlly I can’t imagine a situation when any school would bemoan the release of a few homework booklets into the public domain – imagine the bad press. However, as schools continue to gear up as businesses and even brands there’s going to come a day when someone looks at a resource that’s been downloaded 10,000 times and asks “could we have sold that?” and “who gave it away?
Back to my question: Does the school need such a policy and should I even care?
Yes & yes.
What about a formal statement, releasing teachers to share any / all resources into the public domain. Effectivley making teachers work available under the Creative Commons license.