In today's digital world in schools we are all creators and copyright protects the outcomes of our creative effort so we can choose how we would like other people to treat it - we can allow people to share and copy it, reserve some rights so we are acknowledged for our work or reserve all the rights so other people have to ask us first before they copy or re-use it; there are also other rights which offer protection against for instance, defamation and misrepresentation of our work. This is the CREATOR side of things.
A student or teacher can copy a lot of the things they require for their work as long as it's just one copy (for books and big things it's just short passages or quotations) AND it's not film or audio or music recordings AND it's for PERSONAL STUDY; as soon as you start sharing it, making multiple copies, re-using or publishing it in any way - even within the school network or VLE or beyond the school by paper, DVD or on the web - you have to check out and be guided by the Copyright Act or the licence conditions that apply to the images, text, music, film - whatever it is you want to copy or re-use. This is the USER or consumer side of things - and of course the detail is a lot more complicated than this very generalised description.
Schools are sophisticated users of resources and communications technologies (digital and analogue) and as well as being USERS and CREATORS of copyright materials they are also DISTRIBUTORS and PUBLISHERS and very importantly, as it slips by almost un-noticed, RE-USERS of other people's materials. In many instances pupils and teachers can take on all four roles in a single school activity.
Copyright is embedded in school activities and has become an integral part of digital literacy, citizenship, e-safety and enterprise education plus every subject on the curriculum and most other school and learning associated activities.
Copyright is all around us: on the web, in books and magazines, in games and films and photographs; and art works and music, and, and, and ... you simply can't get away from it.
Not everything is 'in copyright' - but a lot of it is.
Copyright applies in school, out of school and 'at home' - EVERYWHERE.
Copyright applies when using other people's materials - 'RE-USING' them - and putting them in our work.
Copyright applies to the ORIGINAL stuff that teachers and pupils create.
'Digital isn't different' and copyright applies to materials 'on the internet' and in digital learning resources - whether you've bought them, made them yourself or simply come across them on the web.
There is no single catch-all in UK Copyright law that exempts people in schools or the activity of 'education', 'teaching' or 'learning' from 'copyright' and the 'rules' apply equally to students, teachers, the workforce, the management. the governors and the school itself.
So whether you are - a learner, teacher or school - you have to MANAGE, rather than ignore, COPYRIGHT.
The common principle for all 'copyright' is to respect other people's work and for them to respect yours. Copy Rights have Copy Responsibilities associated with them. If someone says you can use something but they'd like their name kept with the work, you should oblige and acknowledge them. If someone asks you not to use something without asking them first, you should ask. If you publish something perhaps you should make clear how you would like it to be used by others.
The term 'rights' in the word 'copyright' applies to the owner of the copyright material; it is their right to make or licence copies of the material and to 'exploit' it commercially or non-commercially. They can also 'transfer the rights' to someone else - but that's their decision to take, not yours to assume (= infringe).
The bottom line in the UK is that you have to have the 'permission' of the copyright owner to copy, distribute or re-use their work. Which is clearly reasonable, though writing off to get permissions doesn't always fit into the time (or budget) constraints of learning and teaching in schools... however and ...
... happily there are some allowances in UK Copyright law for 'personal study' and for 'education' called 'exceptions' - BUT, in this age of digitally assisted learning, they don't cover everything you and your pupils will want to do. Different media have different copyright 'rules' - so for instance, film and books aren't treated the same in the 'exceptions'. And the 'exceptions' aren't always the same for 'teaching' as they are for 'learning' ... more on all of this is in the extended Section 'Schools & Copyright'.
... and joy of joys, there are of course many resources you don't have to ask especially for permissions to use - materials that are published with permission given for education use, materials with 'open licences', materials that are 'out of copyright' or in the 'public domain' and materials with licences that the school has bought into. And that, thankfully, is quite a lot of good 'stuff'!
... and for a little more help, here in 'Quickstart' we've included:
an FAQ section