Copyright for New Zealand Teachers – The Creative Commons solution.
Back in June I was made aware of an issue surrounding Copyright and teaching. Essentially, any resources created for teaching, by teachers, are actually the rightful property of the Board of Trustees of that school. For any teacher to share or use those resources outside of that school is breach of the copyright, and permission needs to be sought.
You can read the whole article here:
Copyright for New Zealand Teachers > Unleash Education
The Creative Commons solution
Now; being a creative with my own views on copyright, and my own works that hold copyrights, I am very interested in the whole process. To me, as I move through my teaching career, I often see ideas, or think of ideas, and then go about doing my best to make my own resources that are better; whether through advancing functionality or simply putting my own aesthetic improvements on existing ideas.
I also would want to be able to share these, and use these in any future teacher positions I might hold at other schools.
So I quickly went about searching for solutions. In the process, it also surprised me how many teachers have no idea that this was the law.
The solution as it turns out is actually relatively simple, but requires the board to make a deliberate policy change or addition. Creative Commons have made a ‘in schools’ page which outlines the issues quite well, but on top of that, they have developed a policy template for schools to use. I recommend using the ‘annotated’ version first, to get your head around the language of copyright, which can be relatively technical if you’re not used to it.
Our board is currently in the process of adopting this policy for our school. I hope that this makes the situation around copyright for teachers clear for you, and that you can encourage your school to check its policy around this.
This is a copy of the policy template that Creative Commons has provided. It includes the annotations, which I have tried to make a little clearer using fuller sentences than those provided by Creative Commons.
SCHOOL wishes to encourage the open and free exchange of information, knowledge and resources, and support the collaborative production of copyright works that are freely available to all. SCHOOL encourages both staff and students to support free and open access to copyright works.
The preamble gives the general purpose for the policy. It also states the school’s position that it will be using Creative Commons licences to share copyright works.
The Board of Trustees of SCHOOL:
1. Recognises that the Board of Trustees holds first ownership of copyright of works produced by the Board’s employees in the course of their employment.
This states that the default ownership settings for copyright works produced by teachers and employees of the school under section 21(2) of the Copyright Act 1994 (NZ) belongs to the school/Board of Trustees.
2. Applies by default a Creative Commons Attribution Licence to all teaching materials and policies in which the Board of Trustees of the school owns copyright.
This is the key part of the policy, as it is referred to throughout the rest of the document below.
It limits the default application of Creative Commons licensing to teaching materials and policies. While these are broad categories, the clause is intended to refer to those teaching or policy resources that would be of use to other schools, and is not intended to apply to every copyright work produced in the school.
Note also that ‘default’ means that the school can make exceptions to the policy at its discretion.
3. May apply a Creative Commons Attribution licence to other copyright works, aside from those described in (2), with the express agreement of the Principal.
This gives the school flexibility, should it decide to openly release works other than those outlined in the second (2) clause.
4. May make exceptions to 2) at the discretion of the Principal. Any such exceptions should be limited by a specific time period and should consider the application of other, more restrictive Creative Commons licences, as opposed to simply reserving all rights in a copyright work.
This will give the school some more flexibility, should it decide to be more restrictive than as outlined in the second (2) clause.
5. Will transfer to the original creator the copyright in created works licensed by the school under a Creative Commons Attribution or Creative Commons Share-Alike .licence
The Board of Trustees recognises the benefits of using the most open Creative Commons licences, and provides an incentive to employees to embrace the use of such licences.
6. Does not make any claim over the ownership of copyright works produced by students. The copyright to these works remains with the creator.
This simply clarifies that the school has no rights over copyright works produced by students, since they are not employed by the school.
7. Recognises that this policy only applies to copyright works, and not to any other forms of intellectual property.
This simply clarifies that Creative Commons licensing only applies to copyright works.
8. Recognises that the copyright in works produced by an employee other than in the course of their employment by the Board of Trustees of the school remains the property of that employee. Where this is unclear, the process for dispute resolution, outlined below, shall apply.
This is key for me and other creative type people. It recognises that there may be some uncertainty as to what constitutes a work produced in the course of one’s employment. It is intended to assure teachers that the policy only applies to works that are owned by the school, and to point to the dispute resolution process, below.
For example; a teacher who creates a drawing or artwork at school, but hasn’t been “employed” or asked to do this by the school, the teacher owns the copyright. This applies to creative works outside of school; such as works created at home as a hobby or secondary employment, such as musical pieces or photography works.
This also applies to written articles, such as those found on this website; which while are inspired and influenced by my teaching position, are not part of my employment, and so I retain the copyright.
Creative Commons: An international non-profit that provides free open licences that copyright holders can use to share their work.
Teaching Materials: Copyright works produced by employees of the school for the purposes of teaching.
Policies and Procedures: Copyright works that determine, and provide guidance around, a course of action adopted by the school.
The definitions around what is and is not covered by the policy should be adjusted by the school, as required.
Where the first ownership of copyright in a given work is disputed or unclear, the following process will apply:
- In the first instance the dispute should be documented and presented to the school Principal.
- If the dispute is still not resolved then the documentation should be presented to the chairman of the Board of Trustees.
- If the dispute is still not resolved following 1) and 2), mediation with an appropriate authority will be undertaken.
This should be replaced with the school’s dispute resolution process, where appropriate.