It's Not Easy Being the Copyright Police

In my district I have become the Copyright Police. I prefer to think of myself as a Copyright Ambassador but I'm not sure my teachers feel that same way. It may just be my mind playing tricks on me but I think I have seen teachers duck around the corner when they see me coming. I think I have seen teachers deliberately stand in front of a bulletin board that might include a copyright violation. I think I have seen teachers strategically hide a stack of "worksheets" that they have copied and modified from a "worksheet sharing" site when I enter their classroom. Now this all very well could be in my head. Perhaps I'm just seeing things.

In order to protect the district and make sure our teachers and administrators understand copyright, I have started to inform myself on copyright. I've read two great books that I highly recommend: Copyright for Schools A Practical Guide, 5th Edition and Copyright Catechism II both books by Carol Simpson. I've created a Copyright Kahoot to discuss the topic with administrators and teachers. I've sent emails to staff reminding them of copyright policies.

And while I've done all of this research and I feel like I understand the laws pretty well, I must admit that even I have broken copyright in the past. I used coloring books and created transparencies so I could blow up characters for my bulletin boards. I modified things I found on the web without permission from the owner for use in my classroom. I played music as background noise in my classroom. As a presenter for adult audiences, I almost always played music to get the audience pumped up before a session started.

But since I've taken on the role of Copyright Ambassador, I have really had to look at myself and stop doing some of the things I love to do, like playing music before a session I present. And what makes this even more difficult for me is the fact that some of my favorite "big name" presenters have a great playlist of tunes that they play before they present. Or they show a YouTube music video before they present. I see how the audience reacts to that. They are pumped before the session even starts. I want that in my sessions too. How do I do that and maintain my status as Copyright Ambassador?

I see lots of great presentations shared on Twitter. I love a presentation with a theme. I would LOVE to do a presentation with a Star Wars theme. But to do so, I would be violating copyright if I wanted to use Star Wars related images. Sorry, folks, but Disney is just not going to give you permission to use Star Wars characters for a presentation.

So I guess I am really struggling with doing the right thing. It is not easy being the Copyright Police.


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