Friday, October 10, 2008

Issues of Good Faith, Fair Use and Big Heart

I was reading some comments on my blog from the other day on copyright issues. I hear strong and convincing perspectives from folks that say we should provide materials for students with disabilities and that whether we know the absolute boundaries to copyright issues for that student and the materials they are using or not, we still should provide them.
On the other hand, a perspective was brought forward that we need to remember the rights of the writers and companies that developed the materials and their end of the spectrum. Even though we may want to use text that we aren't sure about as far as the legality of the use, we need to make sure we are following the laws that protect the material. Here are my thoughts on this...
I titled this post "Good Faith, Fair Use and Big Heart" for the following reasons:

I think I do a lot of things in good faith through my day. I just have this sense of checks and balances that I operate in that extends out to the teachers I serve, the students I believe in, the equipment I check out and leave places, the materials I loan, the money I give, etc. For example,
I had a teacher ask for a scanner the other day. I had told you last week that I had been denied some software for a student I had put in a purchase request for. Well, I knew I couldn't look for a pocket of money anywhere but my own for this one. I told her to ask her administrator and the "powers that be" for the $69 to purchase it. I told her if she couldn't find anyone, anywhere in her school, parents, fellow teachers, school board or parents club who would give her the money, let me know and I would buy it for her myself - really. I had enough faith in people and organizations to believe someone would support her need - and if not, I would.
I use copyrighted material with good faith that I will be seen as an educator that is not abusing it, that I am using it within the parameters of a student who has a one-to-one correlation to the textbook on the shelf. I also operate in good faith that the publishers would see it that way too based on the fair use/copyright law ammendments I have studied as they relate to disabilities and education. I guess that is where the fair use ties in for me.
And I suppose it is pretty obvious that my heart is probably too big for my own good when it comes to doing things on my own when I can't find it anywhere else or don't want to ask. As an educator, from my time in teacher college on through my career, I have ALWAYS spent my own money for supplies and things that I wanted for my kids. There was never a second thought or question about it. It is that way with this blog. I have it tied to my server and my email set -up and all of that costs me, but it is my way of giving there too.
I believe that one of the greatest and most positive parts of my experience online in blogging this past year has been the big heart I see in many of you that write blogs, read, teach, parent, serve, etc. The growth of readership on my blog has come through my sharing other's blogs on mine and so on. The viral nature of giving before recieving has made blogging a wonderful process for me. If someone wants to use my writing as a resource for free, that is fine. If they turn around and sell it...well, that would mess up my perspective on good faith, wouldn't it?

All the best to you,


Bookmark this on Delicious


Susabelle said...

I do not give books in alternate format to students who haven't purchased a copy of the book. I do not share the book except with the student who needs it, and they are required to return the alternate materials at the end of the semester.

I am exercising good faith and care when I produce the materials, and when I lend them. That is all we can do. I refuse to deny a student access to their materials just because we can't get a publisher to send us a statement saying it is okay for us to produce the book. The student has a right to their materials regardless of the publisher's lack of care for our students.

I think you have the right idea.

Ant said...

Hi Susabelle (and Lon),
What you've written here in response to Lon I cannot agree with more.
What you have outlined is exactly what we are allowed to do in Australia. Contacting the publisher, given our timeframes, leans more towards a courtesy. We report everything we format to the Copyright Agency, so the publisher can be notified, but the ultimate priority is getting the material the student needs in the format they want as soon as possible.