So many generous teachers post free materials online that it is not always clear what is free to share, or what has been lifted, photocopied and is an illegal copy. Let us be clear on one thing: sharing legally shareable resources is good practice. For years whenever I published a lesson online I thought to myself, “this is free, I don´t need to claim ownership over a free resource”. Recently, however, several people have contacted me regarding unattributed resources that they thought may have been originally mine (they were not). After reading the many comments on Martina Bex´s recent post about her unending struggle against copyright violators it became clear to me that there are many teachers who really do not want to violate copyright.
For those of us who share: let´s do a very small thing to help clarify what is shareable and what is not. Let´s use the system of Creative Commons to indicate that our works are shareable, can be copied, redistributed, and altered. Or not, but let us be super clear by placing an appropriate creative commons license on the bottom of any resource we share. It is easy (and free). All you have to do is go to the Creative Commons website and decide what level of sharing is appropriate for your work. On the bottom of the page include a notice to indicate the copyright status.
Here is an example for this blog post:
“hello all you beautiful teachers” by Mike Peto is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International license. You are free to adapt and share for non-commercial purposes as long as you keep this notice. See copyright details here: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/4.0/
For a downloadable resource I plan on scaling down the font to size 10 and placing it in a text box at the bottom of the page.
The following step, of course, is to start asking about authorship whenever we receive an unattributed resource. This is not to make people feel bad about passing things on, but to create a professional culture in which piracy does not pass unnoticed through our professional groups.
We are already a generous group; if you are releasing free material then let´s go a tiny step further to protect our colleagues who truly need our help.