While teachers often share knowledge and classroom resources with each other, it is important to be aware of intellectual property rights when doing so.

Each original work a person creates is covered by copyright automatically. However, original works that teachers create as part of their employment are usually owned by the school’s board of trustees and require the board’s permission to share.

Creative Commons licences enable teachers to share their original work with others. To help teachers understand copyright and licences in the broad sense, non-profit organisation Tohatoha is creating a set of online resources to be released early next year.

CEO Mandy Henk says there are huge benefits to sharing this type of information and she is keen to help teachers to do it legally.

“I think it’s fairly common for teachers to create lesson plans or worksheets and I would imagine that there are a lot of Facebook groups where teachers share this stuff. Technically they’re not supposed to do that, so we offer a way to ensure that someday some teacher isn’t made an example of, because that’s not what anyone wants to have happen,” she says.

“The licences are completely free and you just decide which of the six licences meet your needs, but teachers need to ensure that their school trustees have adopted a Creative Commons policy. Otherwise, the right to share the work rests with the board.”

It is important for every professional who creates content to understand copyright to ensure they are working within the bounds of the law, says Mandy.

For more information about Creative Commons and about Tohatoha’s in-person workshops.

A quick guide to Creative Commons in New Zealand

  • Creative Commons Aotearoa is now called Tohatoha and is developing new informational resources for
    New Zealand schools.
  • Copyright owners own the rights to the use of their works, but they can choose to share their work with Creative Commons licences.
  • Creative Commons licences give advance permission from the copyright owner to allow people to share material more freely, according to the terms of the licence.
  • People who use Creative Commons licences are contributing to the Commons, the global pool of reusable works, and are helping to create a culture of legal sharing, reuse and innovation.

Source: Education Gazette

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