BY ELIZABETH HERITAGE
This piece was published in the New Zealand School Executive Officers’ Magazine in late 2014.
In March 2014, the Network for Learning launched its ambitious resource sharing portal, Pond. At the time of writing, hundreds of teachers have joined Pond; soon, all Kiwi teachers will be able to use Pond to openly share their resources with every other teacher in the country.
While teachers have a thriving culture of resource sharing, not much of this sharing is open or visible, which means that it can be hard for teachers to find good resources when they need them.
This causes thousands of teachers to reinvent the wheel, producing resources that have already been produced by others working elsewhere in the education system. Pond has the potential to change that, and enable more open sharing, for the benefit of everyone.
Before teachers can share resources, though, they are going to have to confront copyright. Copyright allows copyright holders to restrict what other people can do with a work. It is automatic (no ‘c’ required); it lasts for the life of the author plus fifty years; and it is more restrictive than most people realise.
So, how does this apply to teacher resources? Under section 21 of the 1994 Copyright Act, employers own the copyright of works produced by employees in the course of their employment. This means that any original copyright work produced by a teacher working at a New Zealand school is, by default, owned by the Board of Trustees.
This, in turn, means that any teacher who shares without asking permission from his or her Board of Trustees is legally infringing the Board’s copyright.
This can cause disputes, especially when a teacher moves to another school and wishes to take their resources with them. Copyright restrictions can also discourage teachers from sharing and collaborating, potentially to the detriment of student achievement.
To solve these problems, and ensure that teachers can increasingly share and collaborate, Creative Commons Aotearoa New Zealand is advocating the adoption of Creative Commons policies. These policies give teachers advance permission to share their resources using Creative Commons licences.
Creative Commons provides free licences that copyright holders can use to share their work for reuse. These licences are simple, clear and legally robust, and are used by schools, governments, universities and other public organisations all over the world. You don’t need to pay or register to use them.
Between fifty and one hundred schools have already adopted CC policies, with many more working to do so. Creative Commons Aotearoa New Zealand provides a range of support materials, including an off-the-shelf policy developed by Albany Senior High School. For more information, visit creativecommons.org.nz/ccinschools.