Ethical, Legal, and Social Issues in a Digital Age

Check out this website.  It is called “Teachers Pay Teachers” (TPT).  I know my aunt Julie will probably love this website, as she is always looking for new and innovative ways to keep her young students engaged.  What is the website all about?  Well, it’s a business model similar to craft website Etsy, or perhaps even (slightly) similar to the auction site Ebay.  It is a website where teachers can buy and sell reproducible teaching resources from $Free to $40 and up.  The website boasts anything from site word readers, holiday-specific activities, all basic subjects (Math, English, History, even Art) and activities tailored to students in specific grades.

So now you know what it is.  Here is the question-is it right?  As the title of this blog suggests, is it ethical or legal?  Hmm.  Here is where it gets tricky.  I first took to searching for some of the resources outside of TPT to see if any of the stuff was ‘borrowed’ from elsewhere.  Every random post that I pulled up seemed legit.  In fact, several of the teachers sharing and selling resources on this page offer up their wares for free on their blogs.  There is also quite an extensive Copyright page on the site, you can find it by clicking here or FAQ’s here.   The FAQ page contains several interesting topics, such as “Who owns the daily Teaching Content I made for my classes, me or the school that I work for?” and ”
Who owns the tests I created for my class, me or the school that I work for?”.  The answer is…it depends.  <<Here is where I point out that you should always read any contracts you sign.  Hey, I’m a lawyer’s sister, and I’ve been scolded educated enough on this issue!>>  Traditional exceptions vs loopholes, IP regulations vs hard copy, work for hire laws, insert headache here.

It does seem that the website keeps a rather close eye on material being posted, though the website is growing, and it is increasingly difficult to monitor open marketplace websites.  The question now is, how do you protect yourself and your best interests?  Well…

  1. As I said before, read your contract.  Know what your rights are at your school district.
  2. Be prepared to back up your work.  (read: don’t steal other people’s stuff!)
  3. Be on the lookout for other people profiting from the sale of your original work.  If you put it out there, just keep an eye out for it popping up in other places.
  4. I don’t know if I said this yet, but read your contract.

Stay tuned later today for my next post, “Fun with Copyright” It’ll be a hoot.

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