It’s For the Kids is Not a Justification

Materials for our classroom can be expensive. I’ve oftentimes thought the price of an online tool or math activity book or …. were completely overpriced. My students would benefit but this is not a justification to take someone’s intellectual property.

Houston School Sued

This article shares how one school was sued over their photocopying of a resource for multiple students.

What About Fair Use?

Fair Use is not an unlimited license to use anything so long as it’s for the children. It does NOT allow schools to use entire works that are under copyright. In fact the rules for Fair Use are not necessarily rules at all but somewhat guidelines that can still get you in trouble even if you follow them.

The rule of thumb is you can share up to 10% of a work… But not the heart of the work. What does that mean?

Are you at all damaging someone’s right to make money or distribute their work as they see fit?

Even if you use 10% or less of a work as a resource you could still be violating Fair Use.

Credit is Not Permission

It’s common to hear “I gave credit.” Yes, you should always credit all sources of anything that is not your original work but that is insufficient when the work is under copyright.

If at lunchtime I go to the fridge to eat my lunch and there is a Post-it left in its place “Alice made a great sandwich, it was tasty.” Someone gave me credit for the sandwich but they had no right to eat my lunch!

Just because a material is digital or our use of it doesn’t consume the item doesn’t make it any better. The owner of the content loses the opportunity to sell and control their content. Opportunity cost is a real cost.


If something is made to be sold to educators to use in their classroom there is no Fair Use to cover that. Stuff you buy on Teachers Pay Teachers is under a specific license. Unless it says you can make copies for your whole school, you can’t. You definitely can not repost what you purchased online where others can access it.

From this webpage from Stanford University

“Classroom copying cannot be used to replace texts or workbooks used in the classroom.”

teacher copyright

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