FAQ: Frequently Asked Questions



- This book is out of print. It's okay if I make copies of it, right? (Answer: The book is still copyright protected until it's term of protection ends.)

- What items should not be included in a course pack? (Answer: Anything that is used in order to avoid purchasing the actual copy--entire textbooks, consumables, other copyrighted resources, anything not created by the teacher).

- We have created a document that we don't want other schools to copy. Do we need a statement saying that it cannot be copied, reproduced, or distributed? (Answer: Your document is automatically protected by copyright, but you could register the document with the copyright office in Washington or add a statement saying that the document is protected by copyright.)

- May we make audio copies of books for special needs students or ESL students? (Answer: It is not legal to make audiobooks except under very special circumstances. The student(s) must be identified as handicapped and this handicapped status must be verified by a physician. Once the student(s) qualifies under these conditions, they can get a special tape player (The tape cannot be playable on a commercial cassette recorder) from the state library or Library of Congress on which the recording can be made.)

- If there are not enough textbooks to go around, may teachers make copies of pages and send them home with the students? Would it be more legal if teachers sent students to the library to copy the pages themselves? (Answer: No to both questions. Copying in order to avoid paying for something--in this case, extra textbooks--is never okay)

- If a student loses his workbook, can the teacher copy pages for him? (Answer: No. The only time you can make copies of consumables is if an unused replacement copy is no longer available at a "reasonable cost." The student or the district will need to buy a replacement. However, once the order is sent off for the replacement copy, the teacher can make copies on an as-needed basis until the replacement arrives.  Copying materials in order to avoid paying for them is never okay.)

- May I put a worksheet that goes with a textbook on my Web site? (Answer: No. Copying a consumable is barred by the print guidelines for fair use. You are also changing the format and anyone who visits your website can see it. The potential is there for the publishers to lose money.)



- I have seen copies of videos in places like Sam's Club that come shrink-wrapped with a license that says they may not be used in schools or libraries. If the video meets the fair use criteria, may I still show it in the classroom? (Answer: No. You are bound by the "shrink-wrap license" and cannot use it.)

- I have some TV programs that I taped off-air several years ago, and I cannot find a source that has copies that I can buy. If I can't buy copies, may I use the taped version in school? May I make copies of these tapes? (Answer: No to both of these questions. Programs taped off-air may be retained for only 45 days, so at this point the tapes are illegal for school use. Copying them would only make the situation worse.)

- Is it ever "fair use" to tape a program from satellite or cable television and use it in the classroom? (Answer: To tape and use these programs you must get permission from the copyright owner or find a statement (such as in Discovery Channel magazine) that says such taping is permitted.)



- May I record a book and let my students listen to the story on the tape while looking at the book? (Answer: A special exemption to the copyright law permits the recording of books for the blind or for students unable to physically use a book. This exemption does not include the dyslexic or slow learner. REMEMBER, according to the law, making a copy of a book by recording it is the same as making a copy by photocopying it.)

- A lot of sites show students creating Readers Workshop podcasts by reading a portion of a book. Since these podcasts are literally recording the reading of a book, similar to an audiobook, would this be allowed? (Answer: Recording a book on a podcast is the same as recording a book on an audiotape. This is permissible in only one instance--when the person who will use the material is identified as legally handicapped and needing services for the blind or disabled. In all other instances, you must ask for permission to record a book in another medium.)



-Our school recently performed a musical and purchased the production rights for this event. A parent videotaped the performance and wants to make copies and sell them at cost to parents of cast members. Is this okay? (Answer: This is okay only if the school or parent also purchased rights to distribute the production.)

-May a music teacher tape a school concert, transfer the tape to CD, and give copies to interested students and parents? (Answer: No, not unless the music teacher applied for a license for each work.)

-Is it okay for the district to broadcast its music programs on our local cable television channel? Answer: Because this is a public peformance, it requires a broadcast license. ASCAP (The American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers) or BMI (Broadcast Music, Inc.) can tell you the fees.)

-Our music director would like to sell copies of a videotaped performance of the school musical. Is this a copyright violation? (Answer: Yes, unless the rights to sell and make copies were purchased with the music or playbook.)



- May I scan a worksheet from my teacher's edition and put it on my website for students to use as a homework assignment? (Answer: You may do this only if it's part of a PowerPoint presentation, and you can keep it on your website for only two weeks unless you can keep it from being copied, which is unlikely. You must also include a notice on your site that these are copyrighted materials. The TEACH act says that workbooks, worksheets, and other consumables cannot be put directly on course Web sites.)

- Our high school wants to hold a technology fair to show off multimedia projects that our students have created. What are the copyright concerns with doing this? (Answer: Displays to groups outside the classroom become public performances. If the projects contain material completely made by the students, then there is no problem. However, if the projects contain music, art, or video clips from copyrighted items, then the students who show their work should get permission to use the copyrighted materials, should attribute their sources, and should understand the ethics of distributing work that's not theirs.)

- I am going to the National Council of Teachers of English conference. I intend to show examples of student iMovies that the students created for my class. If I do not know if all of the images the kids used are copyright free, should I not show them at the conference? (Answer: If there is no copyrighted material in the project, then you may take an iMovie to a conference or workshop. All you need is the permission of the student and the parent. However, if there is copyrighted material in the project, then only the student can show the project at a conference or workshop.)



-Does an IEP override copyright law? (Answer: An IEP cannot stipulate that federal law be violated.)

-What does it mean by "site" in the term "site license"? (Answer: The definition depends on the contract with the software company. A license is a contract, so if you purchase the license under the name of the entire school, not as the North or South building for example, then the license would likely cover the entire campus, but this should be clarified with the company before purchasing.)

-Do students own the copyright on the works they create? (Answer: Yes. Parents or guardians of minors must give permission in writing for schools to use their student's work in public places. Displays inside the classroom do not require permission.)

-If I work at an establishment, can I use their logo (State College High School, as an example?) (Answer: You must get permission to use someone else's logo. As far as SCASD goes, employees of the district may use the logo on items that are part of their professional duties. They should not use the logo on their own personal web sites or personal printed materials unless special approval has been granted. Others outside the district (non-employees) may use the logo with permission. Examples might be booster clubs, PTO's, clubs and activities, Roar Store, other web sites, such as PSU's Professional Development School which uses the logo (with permission) as a link to the SCASD site.)

-Do American government sites that have no copyright have material that is free for use only in the U.S., or just free period? Can someone in Japan use images from copyright-free archives in the U.S.? Can we use goverment copyright-free material from other countries? (Answer: It depends. Material created in another country is protected under the copyright laws of that country. On the other hand, there have been some international treaties that, generally speaking, allow you to treat a foreign publication as you would a U.S. publication (and vice versa). You would have to check the signers of the Berne Convention and the Universal Copyright Convention to see if the country is a signer of one of those conventions. In the case of Japan, it is a signer of both, so you should be able to use their government materials as you would ours.)