Many of us think of copyright laws in terms of inconvenience.
It is such a hassle to get permission to copy a work, and it gets expensive to purchase the materials I want - especially for educational purposes - so why don't I just copy (either on a machine or on a website) the work and hope no one notices?
There are several things wrong with that thinking, but let's focus on the two main purposes of copyright law:
Here's a third consideration. Copyright Infringement is unethical and illegal. Copyright means the right to copy in whatever form and by whatever means you choose. Only the creator of the work has that right, and they can assign that right to whomever they choose. The law prohibits unauthorized people from copying a protected work because they do not have the right. In addition, copying or pirating a work without permission is theft. It's unethical.
Some teachers (and others) go beyond copying and distributing materials. They present at conferences and workshop as if the material were their own. Friends of mine complain about going to a conference and watching another teacher present my friends' material as the presenter had created it.
If you are guilty of stealing someone else's property (e.g. making copies of a book or other material without permission) or presenting another person's work as your own, you have lost all moral authority to complain when your students plagiarize or steal. You do the same thing. Punishing students for doing what you do is hypocritical and makes you a bully.
What can a teacher do?
Find materials that are licensed or copyright free and use them. Many people offer materials under a licensing agreement, free for use, or in the public domain. Do not assume, however, that anything you see on the internet is free to use. The work may be pirated, or you missed the copyright.
How do I know if something is free to use?
Look for a notice or use websites that advertise copyright-free materials. There are several categories of materials that are usable without concern for copyright infringement.
Creative Commons and GNU
Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer, and nothing on this page should be construed as legal advice. The contents of the page are for informational purposes only. All legal questions should be referred to a qualified attorney.
Below are some links to information about copyright for both content creators and content users. Click on the words in bold for the link to the related website.
Columbia University Libraries Fair Use Checklist-—This short article provides an overview of Fair Use as well as links to resources including a Fair Use Checklist.
Creative Commons — The Creative Commons organization provides a way for copyright holders to license their works while retaining their copyright.
GNU General Public License — GNU is another nonexclusive option for licensing a work.
Pixabay — Pixabay is one of a number of sights offering licensed and copyright-free images.