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EdTech Update




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Fair use scenario - Kathy and the IWB

In a continuing series of scenarios that explore educational fair use issues. You comments are most welcome.

Third grade teacher Kathy was one of the lucky ones in the school who has an interactive white board installed in her classroom. As she experiments with the equipment and software, she is finding that many of the activities in her reading series work well as interactive lessons. Kathy has been scanning parts of the series' student workbook for use with with IWB software.

  1. What is the copyrighted material? Who owns it?
  2. Does the use of the work fall under fair use guidelines? Is the use transformational in nature? Can this be considered "educational" use?
  3. What is your level of comfort in helping create such a product? Are there any changes or limits you might like to see that would make you more comfortable with this project?

Your level of comfort with this use of copyrighted materials: High 5 4 3 2 1 Low

You comments are most welcome.

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Reader Comments (9)

I would be comfortable with this unless I knew that the company sold a product that did the same thing at a reasonable price that my school could conceivably buy. That is, unless I knew I was directly taking away a sale.

November 18, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterTom Hoffman

I'd be comfortable with it as well. Seems to be an educational use and you've already legally purchased the material once. I know I shouldn't but I have a fairly liberal view on all of this. In statistics they consider risks not worth considering to be de minimus. I used to feel very strongly that no one really cared too much and then I heard of the horrible Business Software Alliance. A group bent on giving disgruntled employees a way to turn in their employers for using pirated or illegally obtained software. I think the risk just went up to make it worth considering.

November 18, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterCharlie A. Roy

Hi Tom,

This is where my “level of comfort” is as well. I expect we will see textbook publishers catch up with some of these technologies soon and “sell” the digital rights to much of their materials.

Thanks for the comment,


Hi Charlie,

I, too, tend be liberal about fair use and believe all educators ought to be.

My readings tell me that the likelihood of being sued is very, very low unless the IP violation is very egregious (buying one copy of Office and putting it on every district computer.) What I have read is that a “cease and desist” letter is the usual result of minor copyright violations when noticed.

All the best,


November 20, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterDoug Johnson

I would be pretty comfortable in this scenario. If the product Kathy was making was actually for sale from the company, I would suggest we buy it, if possible.

November 20, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterJoan Tracy

What does Kathy mean by "parts of the student workbook"? What percentage of the entire workbook, or is this a percentage of several individual pages?
As long as the students are using their workbooks, and the IWB use is supplemental and used for instruction, then the use sounds fine.
She is using the series purchased by the school system, not one from another series not purchased.

Our level of comfort with this use is a 4.

January 5, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterGroup 5

We are comfortable with this use. The district has bought the reading series. She is just using the White Board to display something she has the license for. We feel she should somehow note where she obtained the material.

January 12, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterGroup 5a

Personally I feel that this is completely fine. I do not feel that I am taking away a sale, and I feel that it is for educational uses so it should be fine in the end. In the end it is purchased material from the workbook that the school already bought.

September 30, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAdam Bauer

A group of us in class read the scenario and evaluated it. We believe that this is fine, simply because there is not a smartboard product that accompanies the workbook. If the software was available, she would be breaking the law. So as a group we agreed our comfort level is a 5!

September 30, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterCPSC 109 POD 3

We feel comfortable with this task, because the workbook has been purchased already. It isn't being scanned and distributed to the class. The material is instructional and will benefit the students as they learn the materials on the interactive white board.

The use of the material falls under the fair use guidelines.

Kathy needs to be very careful in her decisions as to not violate any fair use guidelines.

February 17, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMissi & Erin

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