Teachers Pay Teachers: Image Copyright and Educational Fair Use
December 17, 2013 | 4:15 pm
By Joanna Cabot
I might become a content seller in the new year! A fellow teacher turned me onto a neat little website called Teachers Pay Teachers, which everyone at school is addicted to. Teachers can upload (and sell) their own self-created resources. What makes the site so addictive is that every seller is required to offer their first resource for free, so there are a lot of free materials for other teachers to enjoy.
The funny thing is, I perused the seller FAQs (primarily to make sure sellers can be non-American, which they can) and saw a lot of stuff about how to upload a file, create a thumbnail and do other technical things. But I didn’t see anything about the kind of content you can sell, and I think this might be a sticky issue for some unwitting sellers—if their file contains images, that is!
It’s a common practice for teachers to borrow images off a Google search. Any text they add to accompany it is, of course, their own creation. But I suspect many of them don’t realize that the presence of the images might be a problem if they offer their work for sale. I had a colleague spend a few days creating some fancy worksheets to go with her Grinch who Stole Christmas story. The school owns the book, and paid for it. Her borrowing of the images for the purposes of teaching it is educational fair use. But she can’t go and sell it with someone else’s work on it.
I wonder if the rise of these sorts of websites might prompt a mini revolution as far as this stuff goes. I’ll certainly be spending some time over the Christmas break going through some of my more sell-able stuff and seeing if I can replace the random Google clipart with something Creative Commons licensed. Several teachers at this website even sell (for a very moderate price) clipart packages which include a license for reuse in your own for-sale materials. Might the incentive of commerce prompt a more copyright-compliant creative community?