Another one about Copyright: Why I won't stop talking about it
OK, I know, you might be thinking "again? (facepalm)", Yes, again! It seems this topic is a never-ending tale and I can't stop surprising myself (in a bad way), day after day. Let me be clear, I am not getting paid by publishers to write this post, nor am I writing about one specific episode that had happen to me exclusively - I'm saying this because I don't want y'all to make assumptions later on. - This is purely my observation on copyright since my last post on the topic.
As I said, I wrote a blog post on the topic for BlogDisal some time ago, but I believe I must revisit the topic because things seems to have gotten worse. In 2018, during the IATEFL Conference in Brighton, UK, I had the privilege of watching Dorothy Zemach and her plenary "Sausage and the law: How textbooks are made", I must say that it was balls to the walls the best plenary I have ever watched, Dorothy is not only brutally honest, but down-to-earth and refreshing. After watching Dorothy, I couldn't help but wonder: "When will we ever stop talking about copyright and understand that a few actions we take in our daily lives are just not OK?"
Now you might be wondering what specifically am I talking about? So here is a list of actions that are NOT OK:
Illegal download of PDF books: Time and time again I see posts on Facebook groups of teachers asking for the PDF version of the book they want, and astonishingly some of these groups have now created Google Drives where they store and share illegally hundreds of books. Here is the thing, the moment we start pirating books, it's the moment the prices go up, we need to stick together and talk directly to the publishers, illegal download of PDF books is not the answer. Don't get me wrong, I totally understand that we cannot afford many books, and some of the books we wish to have are not available in our country, but I strongly encourage you to contact your publisher representative or even the author of the book to try to find a solution that does not involve a crime, because my friend, downloading anything from the Internet that you haven't paid for or that it was not freely given to you by the people who created is and will always be a crime. (please check the links below for further information)
Using your phone or computer to record content that is not yours: It's not because you're using your own phone or your own computer that it is OK for you to record (or take pictures) of the content. Read the topic above again, because it applies to this category as well.
Copying ideas, slides & materials from other professionals and forgetting to mention them: Remember that conference you attended and you watched a fabulous talk by your favorite speaker? I'm sure you took some pictures of the slides so you could look at them later. Here is the thing, it is not OK for you to use those words in your own work without mentioning the source. If you wish to become a teacher trainer, don't copy the content that another trainer created, develop your own content. Also, don't write to the speaker asking for the slides so you can recreate their talk in your school, or better yet, don't ask the speaker to 'teach you' (for free) how to deliver THEIR workshop so YOU can recreate the session in your institution - you want the workshop? Pay the trainer and they'll come to you and train your teachers.
Sharing content that is not yours through Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp or any other communication system: You, me, everyone - we all use social media and some kind of app to communicate with our family and friends, we also send each other pictures, links, etc., but let me remind you that if you are sharing content that is not your own (even though you naively think people are not watching you - but they are, they always are), it is a crime. If you take a screenshot of your WhatsApp conversation and you post on social media, and you didn't bother to ask the person if you could share that, it is still a crime.
To sum up, copyright is a legal right, it is serious and the lack of respect for it can damage the book industry, the music industry and many lives that depend on it. I strongly recommend watching Dorothy's plenary so you can understand the creative process of writing a book, this way you might be a little bit more open to the idea. If you are in doubt about whether your actions are or are not in accordance with copyrighting, ask yourself: "Would I feel crushed if someone copied my ideas? Would I be financially and emotionally hurt if someone copied my hard work?" Just some food for thought.