Thursday, August 11, 2005

Photocopying Homeschool Materials

I am currently working on an article about copyright laws and how they apply to homeschoolers in the area of workbooks. In talking to several authors and publishers, I am shocked at the extent of the problem of illicit copying. I've heard stories of people returning books for refund with photocopies accidentally left inside the books, Catholic schools buying a few books and then photocopying for the rest of the class, support groups purchasing workbooks to be photocopied by everyone in the group, and more.

I'm sure that most of this is not done maliciously, but because they are not aware of the harm done by their actions. It's okay to make copies of workbooks if permission is given on the copyright page. You can also write to the publisher and ask permission. Often times, they will grant permission especially if you truly cannot afford to buy multiple workbooks.

Look to the Winter issue of Heart and Mind to read the article. In the meantime, I sure wouldn't mind hearing input on the topic.


Nancy C. Brown said...

I would think most people would understand this is a moral issue, as in "Thou Shalt Not Steal." But I know a lot of people don't understand taking paper clips from the office is wrong either.

I think sometimes it's just a matter of teaching people.

I think CHC has dealt with this a lot, and I noticed they have some articles on their web site at:

Love2Learn Mom said...

I think it's also important to consider that small publishers suffer even more from this than large publishers do. Books are expensive and homeschoolers need quite a few of them - it helps me to remember that when I purchase Catholic books and other books from Catholic suppliers, I'm not only getting good educational materials, but I'm also making a contribution to a worthwhile apostolate.

Nancy C. Brown said...

Yes, I also like to think that with my dollars, I am supporting a Catholic apostolate. And the small ones do struggle, but must have people being honest or their work will not survive.
I just attended a book sale, and someone had photocopied many a workbook so that in the future (which was now) she would sell them "like new." Hmmm.

bigmomma64 said...

I agree wholeheartedly with what you all have said, but quite frankly, homeschooling materials aren't cheap (although the investment is definitely worthy) and they can become a strain on the pocketbook when the items bought at the beginning of a school year aren't working out and one has to look for alternatives. This gets expensive especially when you have a large family.

The other problem is that there is no way to preview a product without having to shell out money on shipping fees both coming and going unless you know someone personally with the curriculum you are using AND you have time to go visit this person to look at the item.

If there was some way to check out the content of curriculum items before plunking down the money, I think more customers would be satisfied with their choices and less likely to feel that stealing by ignoring copywright laws is the way to go to save themselves some money. We have consciences, but we also have pocketbooks that talk to us as well.

Love2Learn Mom said...

There are more Catholic homeschool companies (such as Catholic Heritage Curricula and Seton) with sample pages posted online. Catholic Homeschool conferences can be wonderful if you can get there. Additionally, most companies are pretty generous about their return policy if the books are clean and un-used (perhaps we should add "uncopied"). I think all of us understand the budget issues, books are expensive and we always seem to need a lot of them, but I really do believe that God will provide when we are trying to follow hiw will.