Copyright law is a complicated topic. Many teachers are unsure about when materials are free to use, how to find free materials, and what constitutes fair-use of resources that are copyrighted. There have been many examples of school districts violating copyright law and recently the Houston ISD’s Westside High School was fined 9.2 million for a copyright violation.

Richard Byrne from Free Technology for Teachers provided a brief overview of the case:

The short version of the case is that teachers in the district were photocopying and redistributing copyrighted study guides without permission of DynaStudy and continued to do so even after DynaStudy raised concerns to the school district. According to World IP Review’s article, the district tried to make a Fair Use claim regarding use of four of the copyrighted works, but the court ruled against the claims.

This case seems pretty straight forward as a blatant example of the schools disrespect for a company’s intellectual property. The Houston Chronicle provided images used in the case which shows a very clear indication at the bottom of the handouts that the material is subject to copyright.

To avoid these types of situations teachers should make sure that they have permission to make copies of materials they are sharing with their students. Many worksheets will have a notice at the bottom that indicates if the material is copyrighted. Teachers can also explore open educational resources to find free curriculums, lesson plans, and worksheets. There are numerous open educational resources available through Amazon Inspire, EL Education, and Eureka Math.

Source: Free Technology for Teachers, The Houston Chronicle

Picture: mohamed_hassan / Pixabay