• Jan MacWatters

Copyright and Online Teaching

If you're like most teachers, you're probably pondering how to get your classes online if your school is closed or might close in the near future. Of course, teaching online is very different to regular classroom teaching, but that doesn't mean that it's not possible, or that you won't enjoy it. Being prepared for the differences is important and will help you make the most of your experience as you develop skills with technology that you may not have used before.


There are many things to be considered as you move online and we'll address each of those over the next few weeks. Today, I want to address copyright in the online arena. As teachers and administrators, we should all know that we have the right to use copyrighted material in the classroom. The virtual classroom is a little different. In 2002, the TEACH Act was passed to give online and distance educators a fair shake. Obviously, we cannot just put anything on the web where it is available to everyone. However, we can still use copyrighted materials online if we follow the Fair Use guidelines. and the TEACH Act. Anything that is used in an online classroom should be labelled as copyrighted material and students should be made aware that the material is only for use in the classroom and should not be shared. The classroom should also be password protected. Most LMS's are password protected but it's important to understand that we cannot simply post copyrighted materials on websites. See this TEACH Act synopsis for some simplified guidelines. It is also vital to understand that these guidelines do not apply to for-profit schools. Public schools are not for profit, obviously, but there are many private schools out there that may not benefit from the TEACH Act. That is something to discuss with a lawyer.

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