Teachers and copyright

Not long ago a teacher on a list serve that I belong to raised concerns about some of her colleagues whom she felt may be crossing copyright laws.  This was my response:

As an author, I’m thrilled when teachers find my books useful in a classroom setting. I’ve seen such creative teaching strategies over the years…from found poems using phrases from a book typed and put into a basket for children to choose and piece together, to new stories being written from the point of view of one of my characters, to a story being read with a student-created soundscape reflecting the setting.  I don’t object to my words being copied for this sort classroom use. In fact, I applaud it.

However, like many other authors, I draw the line at copying for the purposes of income.  If you are making money using my work, you are infringing on my copyright.  I also object to copying a book electronically so that additional purchases are not necessary.  I’ve seen some of my picture books scanned and read to an entire school so that a library only need purchase one copy.  While I understand that libraries are being squeezed, this approach really hurts creators.  Most people are not aware how little authors and illustrators make (5% each of the retail sale price of a book).  We have to sell a lot of books to earn a living, and if you copy  our work, we aren’t even making that small amount.  Writers and illustrators want to write more books for you and your students to enjoy. Please let these teachers know that our work is our livelihood. We can only continue to create if we can earn a living doing it.

Thanks for listening to my rant.

Sheryl