It Must Have Been Love… Or Maybe Copyright?

A Brief Overview of a Basic Inquiry

I’m not really sure why, but for some reason I found myself struggling to write this week, which is very unusual because I usually have so much to say. As I pondered what to write about, I felt as if I wasn’t really sure what online learning is composed of (although I know this isn’t true). First, I thought I would research and write about using hand signals to create more equitable discussions after watching this video but found out quickly that the writing wasn’t flowing.

Photo Courtesy of Anna Tarazevich from

Feeling a sense of despair as I was standing in the preparation room at school, madly searching for materials that I knew I wouldn’t be able to find, I saw it. I knew instantly that it was just the right topic to discuss and learn more about, because as an adult I find myself confused with this rule and that rule, and the sub rule of that rule. I bet you’re thinking right now, well what the heck did you see? Well, I saw that orange poster above the photocopier, the one many of you are all familiar with. The poster about copyright rules for teachers. It literally stopped me in my frenzy of scavenger hunting, and I found myself starring.

 I knew I was onto something, and messaged Amanda right away as we had been talking about it previously. If anyone knows Amanda, you know that she is downright passionate about this topic and has explained it a few times in class, and has taught a few of our classmates already about adding it to their website, etc. So, I knew I was onto something when she asked me a question about Canva that we were both unsure about (and full disclosure, I am a beginner with this website), and after searching through the Terms of Use I realized that one line said one thing, and a few lines later it seemed to contradict what the previous lines were about. Frustrating, right? As an adult I find myself often confused at copyright rules, so imagine how the kids in our classrooms feel?

I perused the orange poster, and it was a good start, but it wasn’t exactly what I was looking for (at the time). I looked a little harder, and using Common Sense already for creating my Digital Citizenship Course, I found an article that seemed to be a good fit: 1 to 1 Teacher Backgrounder: Creative Credit & Copright (coincidentally, which Amanda also later suggested). It was a quick an easy read to get started. It outlined the key terminology, why you should teach it, and a diagram about the Four Points of Fair Use. I can’t say enough great things about Common Sense Education, as they have ready to go lesson plans with all of the materials such as Slides, Worksheets, etc., they have great articles for educators, and students, and overall, it is very aesthetically appealing (which I tend to be drawn to).

Four Points of Fair Use from common sense education.

I then took a deeper look into Edutopia’s Teacher’s Should Know Copyright from Wrong, although it had some good information, I didn’t feel as if it gave me the right information that I was looking for. So, I thought that I would go back to the Four Points of Fair Use and check out the Google slide that they created for Grade 7 students and was very impressed with what I learned. The lesson mostly covered the differences between Copyright, Public Domain and Fair use. It focused primarily on Fair Use for students, as outlined it as “the ability to use copyrighted work without permission, but only in certain ways and specific situations”. It then went on to explain what fair use may look like using a diagram.

The Poster I Locked Eyes With

Photo Courtesy of Cottonbro from

Great, I had a start on what I was looking for, and I learned a few things, but I still felt as if I wasn’t getting to what I really wanted to learn. So again, I headed to Google to see if I could find myself something that was more aligned with what I had madly written down in the preparation room. And there it was, the orange poster appeared once again in front of me, so I knew it was something that I needed to review again. It also finally had a name to me—Copyright Matters: Some Key Questions & Answers for Teachers (4th Edition). I made a decision right then and there, that this was what I was going to review, as the magnitude of Copyright information on the internet was so vast, that I think I would quickly find myself with Alice down the Rabbit Hole, meeting the Queen of Hearts in no time.  

Although my first thoughts were that the document could be updated, since it was now 5 years old, and that the colour was screaming for the 70s classroom I painted over this year, I realized that was what drew my attention to in the first place. The booklet covers a ton of information from why it is important for teachers, to streaming lessons live, and back to where to find more information. Each section is short and to the point as well, which is nice when you need quick information that you don’t have to really sort through. It is mostly questions and answers based and it’s a good summary of topics surrounding copyright in schools.

Photo Courtesy of Cup of Couple from

However, I found that there were a few discussion points that were lacking that are very relevant in today’s world of online pandemic teaching. Items such as: using website creations such as Canva, what can be used when selling materials on sites such as Teacher’s Pay Teachers, etc. To me, the topic of online use seems to be lacking and what I was most looking for. Although in my opinion, it needs to be updated, it’s a great tool for teachers who are still using a lot of print-based materials in the classroom, are working with different media, and about rights that teachers and students both have in terms of their work. Even though there are other components at play with teachers and school divisions owning teacher’s work (which is a discussion for a different time), this document does a good job of outlining what copyright means and examples of how it looks in classrooms and schools.

Different Terms of Use

Something else to note is that each educational technology and teaching tool, as well as websites such as Canva and Teacher’s Pay Teachers, have their own terms of use that need to be reviewed. Usually, the terms of use sections, in my opinion, are not well laid out or not easy to interpret and understand explicitly what you can and cannot do. The legal jargon is heavy, and there is no ‘Cole’s Notes’ option either. A recommendation would be for the website to have legal jargon (which is necessary) but to also have a brief summary underneath or a subsection to ensure that users easily understand what they can and cannot do.

Photo Courtesy of Cottonbro from

To Sell, or Not to Sell

Although I have briefly touched on some important points and learned some useful things about Copyright, I barely scratched the surface. I have to admit, that when I was getting more and more into it, I felt like I knew less and less. I think that I need to have a specific question in mind to research more about to get a better idea of what I am supposed to do or not do. In the future, I think that it would be a neat idea to create items to potentially sell. However, in order to do so, I would need to look into contractual obligations, as well as the terms of use of the platform I am interested in working with. I would also then need to look into copyright issues on the items that I create, for example, if attribution needs to be made, or fonts and such need to be licensed, etc. In order to do it right, I’m thinking that there needs to be a lot of research involved.

Ready, Set, Feedback!

Because I am not well versed in this topic area, I would love to hear your thoughts and experiences.

Photo Courtesy of Karolina Grabowska from
  1. What experience do you have with Copyright? If you have a lot or are passionate about it, what advice can you give to someone beginning to look into it?
  2.  Where is your go-to for good information surrounding this topic?
  3.  What advice do you have for reading through the: ‘Terms of Use’ sections for copyright information?
  4. How comfortable do you feel with the topic of copyright?
  5. Do you, or do you plan to sell anything on sites such as TPT? If so, does your division allow it, or how do you get past it? Or what advice do you have to someone that may think of selling their work in the future?

6 thoughts on “It Must Have Been Love… Or Maybe Copyright?

  1. This is something that I have never really thought about. I know so often we are copying and creating learning materials that likely do not follow the rules. You have sparked my interest now… I will have to look into the terms of use more often when I use a new program! Great post!

    1. Jocelyn, let me know what you come across. I would love to hear about it! There are so many rules, and rules about rules, that so often I feel a little bit like I have read a million things and am still confused about the first thing. I can’t wait to hear about your learnings!

  2. Kelly, I definitely encourage you to sell your work/resources in the future if you can!! The material you created on Canva for your course is so visually appealing and well done. Unfortunately, I have always felt intimidated and confused by Copyright rules as well.

    When the pandemic started, some consultants from our division created a FAQ sheet about Copyright. They also recommended that we use the Fair Dealing Decision Tool and the Fair Dealing Guidelines. Here are the links:

    Thanks for sharing!

    1. You are way too kind, Raquel. Thanks for the compliments. I think that I still have a lot of learning to do with graphic design and visual appeal, but I enjoy doing it. Sometimes, I am too fixated on it and forget why I am making something in the first place.

      I think most people feel the same, confused by copyright dos and don’ts. Thanks for sharing some resources with me. They look great and are very helpful. Thanks again for sending them my way, I really appreciate it.

  3. Great post! Thanks for sharing some excellent websites to learn more about the topic. I do think this is a topic that many teachers ignore, but really, we should all be well-verse in it since we’re in the business of sharing content with others in our daily teaching.

    I know the poster 🙂 I think that this topic, although always relevant, became impossible to ignore in the spring, when suddenly everyone was sharing content online, in the homes of every student. Suddenly, teachers were asking, can I read this? Am I allowed to scan that? What if I put it on Seesaw?

    Since last spring, I’ve definitely looked at the subject more carefully. But, I know that it’s a topic I have so much more to learn about. Since working out of the classroom, I definitely pay attention to the terms of use before recommending a platform to teachers.

    I’ve never sold anything on TpT, but I have heard it come up as an issue. A few years ago, my STF rep told us that technically, if it’s used in class, it belongs to the division. I think the topic would make for a very interesting discussion for sure!

    1. I love how you look at the terms of use before making recommendations on different tools and websites, that’s something that I should probably do a better job at. Jennifer, I also appreciate that you shared what the STF rep told you about. I think that this is a discussion that would be worth having. I wonder if Alec would talk more about this and the challenges that it may present to online and blended learning? Hmm… something to consider maybe. Thanks for stopping in and giving me some good insight, I really appreciate it!

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