The Importance of Protecting Intellectual Property

The Importance of Protecting Intellectual Property

There are many intellectual property considerations when entering into contracts or selling your products online. I’ve got some tips for fellow sellers that prove handy in contract negotiations and promoting your merchandise. First things first, safeguard your copyrights and ensure your capacity to defend them by officially registering them with the US Copyright Office! Head over to copyright.gov where, for a $65 fee, you can swiftly complete the application process online.

Within your Products:

Ensure each of your works includes a copyright disclaimer. In all my creations, including those offered for free, I insert the following on page 2, right after the cover page: :

© YEAR Michelle Heisler: The Teaching Bank. All rights reserved. Purchase of this unit entitles the purchaser to the right to reproduce the pages in limited quantities for classroom use only. Duplication for an entire school, an entire school system, or commercial purposes is strictly forbidden without written permission from the publisher. The Teaching Bank, ADDRESS, EMAIL ADDRESS

Copying any part of this product and placing it on the Internet in any form (even a personal/classroom website) is strictly forbidden and is a violation of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). These items can be picked up in a Google search and then shared worldwide for free.

*You may use this for your own personal use, but you are not allowed to use this in any commercial courses you sell to other sellers.

Additionally, I’ve included the FBI Piracy seal in my Terms of Use (TOU) page. You can find detailed information about the seal’s use, requirements, and the TOU here: FBI Piracy Seal Information.

Alongside my Terms of Use (TOU) page, I’ve integrated the following identifier onto every single page of my products, including the free ones:

© YEAR Michelle Heisler: The Teaching Bank

Incorporating these identifiers across your products eliminates doubt about ownership and creates a barrier against replication.

After Publication:

Regularly conduct Google searches using your name, store name, and product names. You’ll be surprised to find instances where, despite these notices on your products, people still upload them to various websites. Most infringers aren’t malicious—they often don’t realize that posting a unit on their personal or school website exposes it globally through Google. The only secure online location for a file is on a password-protected site.

Once you identify the website, individual, or school district, seek out their email address and send a DMCA letter requesting the removal of the content. You can access a template letter that I’ve used successfully on Tools for Teachers by Laurah J. Many individuals, once informed, comply and apologize promptly as they might not have been aware of their mistake.

Aside from notifying the infringing site, it’s advisable to inform Google for the removal of the content from their search function. You can take this action here: Google DMCA Complaint.

Other Resources:

Check out the excellent free resource by Laurah J at Tools for Teachers by Laurah J: “Understanding Copyright and Trademark Law: A Guide for TpT Sellers.” I highly suggest downloading this guide—it’s beneficial for both new and experienced TpT sellers!

No strategy guarantees 100% protection from copyright infringement. There will always be individuals or entities willing to disregard the law despite the consequences. However, these measures can make it more challenging and dissuade those who aren’t prepared to invest the effort. They might also serve as a means to educate those who genuinely lack awareness of the law and have no intent to cause harm.

How Does Copyright Affect YOU as a Teacher?

How Does Copyright Affect YOU as a Teacher?

While working in your classroom, striving to support your students with limited resources, you might wonder about the boundaries when using available materials to aid their understanding. As educators, we often have flexibility within copyright guidelines, yet it’s crucial to discern when our actions might breach legal boundaries. Our responsibility is to set a positive ethical example for our students. Just as we discourage plagiarism and cheating, we must uphold the same standards ourselves.

How can teachers safeguard themselves while ensuring compliance and making the most of available resources?

In educational settings, teachers often benefit from the “fair use” principles outlined in copyright law. This doctrine allows the use of copyrighted materials without a license in specific situations to encourage freedom of expression.

According to the copyright.gov site, “Section 107 of the Copyright Act provides the statutory framework for determining whether something is a fair use and identifies certain types of uses—such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research—as examples of activities that may qualify as fair use.”

While teaching a class, you typically have considerable freedom in choosing educational materials to aid learning, such as books, lyrics, or videos. However, it’s crucial to ensure that the materials you use don’t infringe on copyrights. Avoid benefiting from stolen work by using original sources. For instance, utilize a legally purchased movie clip rather than a pirated one from a website. Similarly, use purchased educational resources like TpT products rather than improperly shared versions.

At what point might a teacher overstep the bounds of fair use?

The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) explicitly prohibits the posting of copyrighted material on the Internet where it could be accessed through a general search. While using such content within your classroom is permissible, sharing it online ventures into a legally ambiguous space that could result in significant financial penalties.

Any material uploaded online must be on a password-protected platform. Creating an open webpage for your class and placing resources like textbook excerpts, TpT purchases, novels, or song lyrics for students to access at home is prohibited unless it’s protected by a password. Unprotected content, even if not linked anywhere, can be indexed in general searches, inadvertently making it available worldwide. This shifts a teacher’s well-intentioned act into the realm of internet piracy.

Most textbook publishers and teacher authors have a Terms of Use (TOU) section within their resources, outlining sharing guidelines. It’s crucial to read and adhere to these guidelines, both to demonstrate ethical standards to students and to safeguard against potential legal repercussions.

The vast majority of teachers sharing materials online may not realize they’re making them accessible to a wider audience beyond their students and parents. Teachers are generally generous and honest, aiming to facilitate easy access for their students and families. Hopefully, this information helps in navigating compliance and sets a standard of best practices. In an environment where teachers often face unwarranted criticism, preserving honesty and integrity within the profession is essential.

The Teaching Bank’s Most Frequently Asked Questions-FAQ

The Teaching Bank’s Most Frequently Asked Questions-FAQ

Here are a few of the most frequent questions that I am asked from buyers, and potential buyers, about my resources. Hopefully, you will find these answers helpful.

If you cannot find the answer to your question. Please email me directly.Email The Teaching Bank

The Teaching Bank PDF FAQs5 The Teaching Bank PDF FAQs6


If you still have questions, please email me directly.Email The Teaching Bank