Copyright as a stumbling block: This applies to online teaching

The Corona pandemic brought about drastic changes in everyday life that initially turned many people's lives upside down. This was also the case for teachers and students in most German states. In addition to the organizational and technical challenges that homeschooling presents, digital education also requires compliance with various legal requirements.

Various copyright regulations must be observed, especially when making copies of textbooks or publishing worksheets on the Internet. The free advice portal provides information about the applicable guidelines for copyright in distance learning and the possible consequences of copyright infringement.

What guidelines do teachers have to follow?

Materials, such as workbooks or books, that are provided by the school for face-to-face teaching cannot be used for distance learning without further ado. Apart from the fact that everything would have to be digitized first, teachers are not allowed to scan an entire textbook and upload the copies.

In copyright law, such copies are considered reproductions that may only be made within a legally defined framework. Teachers may have to abide by the following rules:

  • No more than 15 percent or 20 pages of a printed work may be reproduced per year and per class.
  • If the work was published after 2005, a maximum of 15 percent of it may be copied.
  • Smaller works of six pages or less may be digitized in their entirety. The same applies to newspaper articles, images or photos.
  • Copies made are for classroom use only.
  • If digital works are involved, the licensing conditions of the publishers must be taken to heart.
  • When using external content, the author and the source must always be indicated.

The issue of data protection should not be neglected in homeschooling either. Schools and teachers should ensure that unauthorized persons cannot gain access to personal data . Secure passwords and firewalls are recommended. Teachers should also avoid mixing personal and school data by using the same computer for both. In addition, the services and programs used must comply with the requirements of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

What regulations must students observe when homeschooling?

In addition to the copyright regulations for teachers, there are also a number of factors that students should consider when teaching at a distance. For one thing, they are not allowed to simply publish or distribute on the Internet materials that have been made available for the classroom. Second, they are also not allowed to share classroom materials with friends who attend a different class. Finally, the copies are only intended for use in a specific class.

It is also particularly important that the source be cited when using third-party content. Students who use quotes, images, or videos in a paper or online presentation must always credit  as well as the source to avoid violating copyright laws. If people are clearly recognizable in photos or videos, theright to one's own image also applies. These may only be published if the persons concerned have given their consent .

In order to make students aware of copyright law in homeschooling from the outset, teachers should regularly point out that digital content may not simply be published or distributed. They should also inform students about the prohibition of taking screenshots or other recordings during a video conference .

What happens in case of copyright infringement?

Teachers, , who do not comply with copyright law during distance learning may receive a warning . If the copyright infringement was not intentional, it is usually considered a breach of official duty. In this case, the respective federal state is liable and assumes the costs for possible claims for damages.

Teachers who are civil servants may be subject to disciplinary proceedings . To avoid this, teachers should always be fully aware of the terms of use for copyrighted content. If they are unsure, they have the option of contacting providers directly to find out more about the regulations for using certain content in the classroom, so that they do not commit a copyright infringement when homeschooling.

This guest article was provided to klicksafe by

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