Distance Learning and Copyright

Like most schools in China, the COVID-19 virus has plunged us into a nationwide test of Distance Learning. Many expatriate teachers like myself have found themselves planning and teaching lessons from all corners of the globe and without any of their regular resources.

Distance learning can be a challenge when you are used to having resources in easy access. As we plan lessons, it is important to use resources legally and give authors, musicians, and creators the credit and respect they deserve. Educators are afforded “fair use” exceptions, but this is not permission to use any material in whatever manner you wish. A few main points related to copyright laws that affect KG teachers include:

  1. You may use the smaller of 2 pages or 10% of a copyrighted children’s illustrated book.
  2. You may use up to 30 seconds of audio.
  3. You may share content with students only on a password-protected site for up to 15 days.

In all cases, credit the sources, display the copyright notice including the author, title, publisher, and place and date of publication. Explicitly state that materials are for educational use only and that they may not be saved or shared. For more information, this article is particularly helpful.

What resources can I use freely?

Copyright protection expires 70 years after the death of the creator, at which point it enters the public domain and is free for anyone to use or alter. Additionally, creators can give up their copyright protection by giving their work to the creative commons. Another option is to send students to the original source via a link.

Children’s music and rhymes are mostly in the public domain. If more than one artist produces the song and it’s a classic from your childhood, it’s likely free to use. However, if it’s a video that a company has produced (Super Simple Songs), they have copyright of their video product. Just send families the link to the original source instead of downloading and embedding in your PPT.

Public domain stories include: Aesops fables, Fairy tales, etc.

https://freekidsbooks.org/age-group/stories-age-2-5-years/

https://www.coreknowledge.org/?s=classic+tales

Write and share your own book creations with www.bookcreator.com

If you need to use a copyrighted source?

Contact the publisher for permission. This is common and easily done, but not a guarantee that permission will be granted.

Why should I bother with using resources legally?

Authors, musicians, and creators can only continue to do what they do if their livelihood is protected. These people have every right to pursue charges when materials are distributed illegally. Publishers are well-aware that all Chinese schools are engaged in distance learning and paying closer attention.

But, we’re in China?

China holds the same requirements and has signed the World Intellectual Property Organization Copyright Treaty (WIPO).

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