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Copyright for Educators: Digital Curriculum

Omaha Public Schools Copyright Guidelines

Omaha Public Schools complies with Public Law 94-553 (effective January 1, 1978) (President 8/15/85) and all amendments to it as listed in Title 17 of the United States Code. Copyright Law of the United States

Reproduction or use of copyrighted material in course creation requires the course developer to provide to e-learning staff  

  • all bibliographic information 
  • written permission from the copyright holder to use materials
  • The guidelines do not allow users to:        
  • use the same works for more than one semester, class, or course
  • use copyrighted work for commercial purposes
  • use copyrighted work without attributing the author

Using Material Found on the Internet

You should assume that most of the materials on the Internet are copyrighted, not public domain, including electronic mail messages. Once an expression is committed to a tangible medium, including a computer file, it is protected. No notice is required. So unless a work is in the public domain or the copyright owner allows further reproduction, unauthorized copying in excess of fair use or other lawful exceptions is prohibited.

When working on the Internet keep in mind:

  • Include a copyright notice on materials you author and post; unless your work is subject to contractual restrictions or conditions;

  • Look for a copyright notice on other materials to help determine what use is permissible;

  • Unless permission to use the materials is explicitly stated or falls within fair use, do not copy, download, scan, digitize, or forward materials without the explicit consent of the copyright owner. Do not re-post such material on your own web site without permission. Instead, use a link to the source material.

Best Practices

The following principles summarize key points and best practices followed by many school districts regarding their e-courses.

Online Doesn’t Mean “Free” –Widespread use of the Internet has fostered misconceptions concerning the lawful use of copyrighted information in electronic form. In short, the same copyright rules apply. Simply because content is placed online in a course management system does not mean it is free from copyright protection. Unless fair use or another exception applies, make sure you have permission before posting content. For a sample fair use analysis checklist,

Limit Course Materials to Small Excerpts – Most experts advise using a single article or chapter,or less, of a copyrighted work, but even brief excerpts must be viewed in the overall context of other readings offered for a course. If the total effect is to create a compilation or “digital coursepack” of unlicensed materials, the case for treating individual excerpts as fair use is significantly weakened and permission should be sought.

Course Management Systems Are Not a Substitute for the Purchase of  Textbooks –It violates the intent, spirit and letter of the law to use course management systems as a substitute for the purchase of books, subscriptions or other materials when substantial portions of the material are required for educational purposes.

Article Links – Providing a link to the content in an online database subscribed to by the institution’s library is allowed under copyright law provided the user is a current member of the institution.

Get Permission Before Posting – You must secure copyright permissions prior to posting content. Reposting of the same material for use in a subsequent semester requires a new permission.

Include Copyright Notices – Materials posted in a course management system should contain both the copyright notice from, and a complete citation to, the original material, as well as a clear caution against further electronic distribution.

Know What You’ve Paid For – Reuse rights included in subscriptions vary greatly by publisher. Be sure to check your license’s terms and conditions to determine if the rightsholder has granted you permission to post the copyrighted work within a course management system. This can alleviate the need to request permission and ensure you don’t pay twice for rights you already hold.

Remove Expired Course Materials Promptly – Make sure you take down (or remove access to) copyrighted materials for a particular class when the term concludes.

Omaha Public Schools does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, marital status, sexual orientation, disability, age, genetic information, citizenship status, or economic status in its programs, activities and employment and provides equal access to the Boy Scouts and other designated youth groups. The following individual has been designated to address inquiries regarding the non-discrimination policies: Superintendent of Schools, 3215 Cuming Street, Omaha, NE 68131 (531-299-9822).

Las Escuelas Públicas de Omaha no discriminan basados en la raza, color, origen nacional, religión, sexo, estado civil, orientación sexual, discapacidad , edad, información genética, estado de ciudadanía, o estado económico, en sus programas, actividades y empleo, y provee acceso equitativo a los “Boy Scouts” y a otros grupos juveniles designados. La siguiente persona ha sido designada para atender estas inquietudes referentes a las pólizas de no discriminación: El Superintendente de las Escuelas, 3215 Cuming Street, Omaha, NE 68131 (531-299-9822).