Copyright for Teachers (Workshop Resources)

On October 2 and 9, I gave a workshop on how copyright affects teachers.  This blog posting has some links to resources that teachers will hopefully find useful.

The most important thing I want to stress is no matter how complicated copyright is for teachers, and no matter how distressing the public legislation processes seem, we have a few options.  Teachers should be aware of copyright limitations, but they should also be aware that there is a huge world of public domain, open source and Creative Commons licensed material on the internet.  I should note that most of the sources I give below focus on images, because that's what I most often need for teaching.

The public domain

Anything in the public domain has no copyright limitations on it--the only thing you can't do is take public domain material unaltered and put your own copyright on it.  Beware, however, that you're not dealing with a slightly modified version of public domain material--this can be copyrighted.  A Shakespeare play with commentary from 1980, for example, will likely be copyrighted, because it's been modified.  Likewise, newer photos of ancient artwork can be copyright, even though the work of art itself is not.

That having been said, lots of people for lots of reasons have released material into the public domain, so here are a few sites that have a lot of this stuff:

Print material:

Project Gutenberg has a huge collection of old books.  Project Gutenberg Canada focuses on Canadian material. (Note this little disclaimer on the PG site: "A few Project Gutenberg ebooks are copyrighted. You can tell by reading the license inside the book. You may download a copyrighted book and give copies away, but might be limited in commercial uses and derivative works.")


Please be sure to read the terms and conditions carefully.  I don't have time to check for every change, so it's possible that the licenses will shift over time.


Creative Commons

The idea behind CC is to give more options for copyright.  Often, people create material and don't care whether others use that material as long as they give credit, or don't make money off of it, or whatever.  CC licenses allow for that.  Follow the site link for more details.

Right now, I don't have a really extensive list of sites with CC material. itself has a fair number of links.  But there is one huge image website called Flickr that allows users to submit pictures with a CC license.  If you go to the advanced search page, you can click off a box that allows you to just search material that is CC-licensed.  This is huge.  Read the license on the individual pictures carefully, though, as some do not allow you to modify the image in any way.  (By the way, don't confused between the image's license and public/private setting.  "Public" does not mean "public domain."  It means that anyone on the internet can see the image.)


That's all I've got for now, but as I think of more things, I'll update.  Please feel free to leave other resources in the comment boxes, and I'll try to review this page as often as I can to add the comments on.  You can also email me directly.  Thanks!

Last updated Oct. 2nd, 2009 at 2:20pm by Kevin Schut