Quick Legal Question (copyright law)

appleguy123

macrumors 604
Original poster
Apr 1, 2009
6,551
631
15 minutes in the future
My school has been using tablets in the class for this year, and I've been assigned to write an article for the newspaper about it. Instead of using books this year, they photocopied old text books and have been distributing them as a PDF on the web. This is clearly illegal, right? I want to write about it in the article, but I can't find any precedent to show that this is copyright infringement.

Can anyone shed some light on this issue for me? I would appreciate it!
 
Last edited:

acidfast7

macrumors 65816
Nov 22, 2008
1,436
5
EU
seems like you would be wrong in the OP's case since "copyleft" requires the copyright holder to offer the work under a "copyleft" designation
the school could request that, in writing. it's quite common with scientific works. i'm not 100% sure on textbooks though.
 

Macky-Mac

macrumors 68030
May 18, 2004
2,589
1,142
....There's no way that any publisher would let their copyrighted works be put online for all to see...
while I understand why you might assume that, do you know for a fact that your school didn't contact the publisher for permission?
 

mobilehaathi

macrumors G3
Aug 19, 2008
9,347
6,218
The Anthropocene
I think the upshot here is that you shouldn't write an article claiming the school is doing something illegal based on nothing other than your presumptions.;)
 

balamw

Moderator
Staff member
Aug 16, 2005
19,075
963
New England
I think the upshot here is that you shouldn't write an article claiming the school is doing something illegal based on nothing other than your presumptions.;)
Unless you want to be introduced to the school's attorneys. Getting it wrong can be an expensive learning experience.

You could also just drop a dime on them to the publisher if you really suspect foul play and let their attorney's lead the charge if there is one. They have derper pockets than the school.

B
 

darkplanets

macrumors 6502a
Nov 6, 2009
851
0
Unless you want to be introduced to the school's attorneys. Getting it wrong can be an expensive learning experience.

You could also just drop a dime on them to the publisher if you really suspect foul play and let their attorney's lead the charge if there is one. They have derper pockets than the school.

B
Or you could not say anything. This is a school. Funding is tight at this point in time. I value people's education over someone getting their royalties, especially someone who is an overzealous enforcer of said rights.
 

balamw

Moderator
Staff member
Aug 16, 2005
19,075
963
New England
Or you could not say anything. This is a school. Funding is tight at this point in time. I value people's education over someone getting their royalties, especially someone who is an overzealous enforcer of said rights.
I only presented that as an alternative to the OP's original plan of publishing something in the newspaper that might expose them to nasty legal consequences, regardless of the validity of the claims.

B
 

vrDrew

macrumors 65816
Jan 31, 2010
1,317
11,872
Midlife, Midwest
You can justify just about anything by claiming "school funding is tight." Whats next, letting heroin addicts drive the school buses and buying tainted meat for the cafeteria?

Schools play an important role in society, that of educating young people. What kind of lesson are they teaching kids about respect for the law; other people's property; or the basic honesty involved in simply copying other people's work without permission?

I suspect that this photocopying is being done by some otherwise well-meaning person who maybe doesn't realize the full implication of what they are doing. I think its important that whoever is responsible be given the chance to reconsider, once they are clearly informed of the unethical (to say the least) nature of photocopying textbooks.

But more importantly, maybe the community at large needs to take responsibility for the sort of rabid, often ignorant, anti-tax attitudes that leaves school districts having to make a choice between paying teachers salaries and paying for textbooks. Its about damn time some of those Tea Party fools see where their nonsense leads.
 

Naimfan

Suspended
Jan 15, 2003
4,669
1,996
Easy.

Meet with the teacher(s) who did it, and ask if they had permission. If they don't know, talk to the principal, and if they don't know, talk to the school board's staff counsel.

It is IMPOSSIBLE to say anything about possible copyright infringement based on the facts you provided.
 

swiftaw

macrumors 603
Jan 31, 2005
6,309
20
Omaha, NE, USA
Obviously you don't know if they got permission from the publishers to use PDF versions of their book. However, if they had, you would think that the publisher would have supplied an eBook rather than getting the school to make copies themselves. Also, I'm pretty sure that even with permission the publishers would want their books on a open website.

Again, you don't know for sure, but I'd say it's highly likely that the publishers don't know what your school is up to.
 

Demosthenes X

macrumors 68000
Oct 21, 2008
1,954
4
Even where permission to copy material has been granted, I highly doubt it would allow for posting the copied works on a publicly available website. In Canada, there are provisions for copying for private use, and licensed copy shops can copy more, provided they track copies and collect royalties on them.

Something like this would never fly up here.