Monday, October 6, 2008

If I create something to use in my classroom, do I have copyrights to my creation?

Surprisingly, no. Because you work under contract for a school district, anything that you create for use in the school, becomes the schools property. This is because creating worksheets, units, etc. is considered part of a teachers job. This concept is known as “work for hire”. If a teacher is interested in creating a book or other creation in order to sell or use for other distribution purposes, that teacher should get a written agreement with their district for the copyright. If a teacher works for their district to create a curriculum or unit of some sort, and that teacher wants copyrights or to share copyright for this creation, the teacher should sign a contract with the district agreeing to do this.

Simpson, C. (2005). Copyright for schools: A practical guide. (4th ed.). Worthington, Ohio: Linworth Publishing, Inc.

10 comments:

vbonnie said...

Isn't that interesting!? I think about all of the worksheets, tests, flyers, newsletters, awards, etc. that I created in my last position. Should I have left them behind when I moved? How much of a stickler are the authorities? Wouldn't it only matter to the district that apparently owns the documents?

Sarah Gobe said...

I think that the 100% perfect answer is that you are supposed to ask for permission when you leave the district. However, the only time anyone would KNOW would probably be if you tried to create a published creation of your works, and tried to sell them. But, from district to district, we teach in similar ways, and need similar types of worksheets, so I think it would be hard to prove when you created a worksheet, or that you didn't "recreate" it in order for use in your own classroom.

Lorena said...

This is something that I never even considered! I'm not teaching now, but it's something to remember if I do take a position with a district in the future! I guess that means anything you've created or owned PRIOR to taking a position, you'd have to make sure the proper copyrights were ensured before-hand too. Lots of logging and paperwork!

Steph Herfel said...

I am curious if there are any court cases out there in reference to a teacher publishing a workbook or some other teaching material and a district having a problem with it? When it comes to "fair use," basic worksheets that just include "facts" that everyone knows, this is considered not copyrightable material (factual info. is considered in the public domain). But, if a teacher rights a book to help other teachers or about their teaching experience or rights a textbook that includes a lot of creative, original teaching ideas (which are hard to come up with, if you ask me!), then I think the teacher could copyright his or her own work and publish it. I don't think a district would try to claim that one of their teacher's creative work could be their property. If anything, I would think that a district would encourage and support a teacher who wants to get published.

erinanderson said...

I am really surprised by this as well. When I taught special education and worked with learning disabled students, I was constantly creating new worksheets, assignments, PowerPoint presentations, etc. I always thought that the work I produced was mine, and mine alone. I had no idea that I was working and creating for the benefit of my school district! Wow!

You brought up some really good points, thanks!

~Erin

mrtay3 said...

There are some very interesting things that are noted here. Seeing that as a classroom teacher, it is necessary to create and use things of others all the time. I definitely did not realize that my own creations would belong to the school system. It is something that I have to think about in case I create something that could become lucrative,

Sarah Gobe said...

http://www.ivanhoffman.com/school.html


This website goes further into work for hire issues

diane said...

well, I just don't see how that's fair at all...if an author writes a book, it certainly doesn't belong to the company if it's typed on a computer

is that in the contract or is it a law?

could it be written into a contract to give the teachers the rights to their own work?

Julie said...

So basically teachers are owned by the school district? I write all of my tests at home. Does this mean that it's still the District's property because it was used to assess students?

Steve Gallick said...

I do think that is strange that a teacher would have to be granted permission to use an exercise or worksheet that he/created. The comment from Dianne is a good one when you really think about it. Would the computer manufacturer own the rights to a book just because an author used the computer to type it? No - that's absurd. I don't see a lot of difference in that example and the teacher vs. school district copyright issue.