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Copyright in international schools

Discussion in 'Teaching abroad' started by briancant, Jun 19, 2019.

  1. briancant

    briancant Occasional commenter

    My last international school decided to go all digital and get rid of all the text books. They made the students buy (at a very inflated price) school laptops. Rather than do as UK schools do and purchase online licences for the text books they employed a lady in the office to start cutting the spines off textbooks and scanning them. The students could then download them in pdf format using Google classroom. Everyone seemed to treat this as perfectly normal. I felt it was illegal and must have been covered in copyright law as a form of intellectual theft.

    Can anyone offer any comments on this? Is it acceptable? Or is it breaking the law?
  2. Rott Weiler

    Rott Weiler Star commenter Forum guide

    Well, it wouldn't be legal in the UK or EU. Which country?
  3. teachtronic

    teachtronic New commenter

    sounds like it is an infringement unless the school has permission to do this, which sounds from your description unlikely. on another note, going digital is great however experience tell us students then forget simple basic research skills and soft skills such as writing, what will they do when the power goes out? wifi fails? panic and become manic?
  4. the hippo

    the hippo Lead commenter Community helper

    briancant, illegal or immoral? Or both? Or neither? When I was teaching in China, my school used to "clone" books all the time. It was easy and very cheap to get a textbook or a reading book copied and the "clones" were identical to the original. No, in China this is not illegal at all and of course it is one of the reasons for the strained trade relations between China and the US. When I was in Qatar, there seemed to be a rather flexible approach to the laws of copyright.

    If your school belongs to COBIS or some similar outfit, then they may want you to play by the rules, even if you are doing something that would not get you into trouble in that country.
  5. briancant

    briancant Occasional commenter

    It was in the EU.
  6. dumbbells66

    dumbbells66 Lead commenter

    Dodgy outfit in Spain by any chance?
  7. briancant

    briancant Occasional commenter

    Ha! I can confirm it was dodgy. Just so no one can identify the school and hence me I will neither confirm or deny it's location.
  8. dumbbells66

    dumbbells66 Lead commenter

    im calling Spain :p
    yasf, theintlteacher and briancant like this.
  9. the hippo

    the hippo Lead commenter Community helper

    Hmm. I think that doing this sort of thing anywhere in the EU would be asking for trouble. The very worst that could happen is that you will face legal action and then the school will deny all knowledge of what you were doing and wash its hands of you.

    My mind wanders back to an incident that happened about thirty years ago, in the UK, when I was teaching at a prep school north of Worthing. A colleague of mine (not really a friend, as he could be a nasty piece of work) had started his own software company. He went off to a conference or training day at a well-known public school. The main speaker demonstrated a piece of software. My colleague had written it! The problem was that he had kept records of every sale, so he knew that this piece of software had been "pirated". He then wrote to the school, where the conference was being held, and threatened legal action. The school paid up quite a healthy contribution to his retirement fund.
  10. briancant

    briancant Occasional commenter

    This was the school scanning the textbooks not the teachers. It was part of a great deal of profiteering by the 'head'. He saw the school as a captive market to sell as many over priced goods as he could, computers, bags, sweatshirts.... he was making a fortune. This was only part of a very very dodgy school. The young trendy teachers who were mates with the students used to smoke on site! I couldn't believe any of it. I bailed out part way through the year and without a reference I became a tutor, but I am bitter about my experience.
  11. makhnovite

    makhnovite Established commenter

    Absolutely illegal and techtronic makes some good points. Becoming a laptop school was very trendy about 12 years ago, but the received wisdom now seems to suggest that BYOD is a better option, usually for research, as always these things need to be properly thought through with all the necessary policies and safeguards put in place, and then enforced!
  12. briancant

    briancant Occasional commenter

    My feelings exactly. At this school the computers were brought in very quickly on what I think was a whim of the headteacher's. I suspect the supplier contacted him and said do you fancy making a load of money? Discipline was a big issue at the school so this didn't help. The school also had a large number of unqualified teachers who didn't really understand how students should behave.

    I like the idea of BYOD but that wouldn't have netted the head any cash!
  13. gulfgolf

    gulfgolf Established commenter

    Rott Weiler likes this.
  14. dumbbells66

    dumbbells66 Lead commenter

    Im 100% sure its Spain now :p
    briancant likes this.
  15. yasf

    yasf Established commenter

    Interesting. Outside the EU, even COBIS schools have been known to clone books (getting the real things through customs can be extremely problematic.) I've never known this kind of thing to happen in the EU though. But there again, I've never worked in Spain either.
  16. makhnovite

    makhnovite Established commenter

    And of course using unlicensed software and non copyright textbooks used to be a failing condition of CIS accreditation, not sure about the IBO?
  17. amysdad

    amysdad Established commenter

    Sometimes though, in some countries it's the only way to get textbooks for some subjects. In the Middle East, for example, I know of situations where entire sections have been removed from History textbooks relating to the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, or where Geography atlases have had pages marking Israel removed (or, in the case of China, where it isn't clear enough that Taiwan is not a separate country - our Geography textbooks had to be checked for this recently.)
    yasf likes this.
  18. frogusmaximus

    frogusmaximus Occasional commenter

    My last school would be in big trouble if the extent of their copyright law breaking got out. Quite amazed some of the major publishing companies haven't done more about this. Wouldn't you query how a major international school is teaching their students to read having only bought one copy of each book from them?

    Of course a well established international accreditation group would also be up **** creek as they gave them the thumbs up, basically as they did not do their job correctly and query how the resources were sourced.
  19. the hippo

    the hippo Lead commenter Community helper

    I get the impression that the CIS are pretty lax about this (and one or two other things).
  20. frogusmaximus

    frogusmaximus Occasional commenter

    Just a bit.

    In before admin scrubs your named link, ha.

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