New technologies have raised a host of questions about fair use and other copyright issues - issues that, if left unaddressed, could have serious repercussions for schools. Educators and schools may be sued if they violate or infringe upon the rights of copyright.
Board members will want their districts to gain a maximum benefit from technology without violating the rights of software authors and owners. You may want to consult your school attorney or outside counsel to be sure your current copyright policies are comprehensive or to design new policies.
What should these policies cover? Some school district policies state that no illegal software can be used on a school systems machines; others subject teachers to dismissal if they use pirated software or encourage or allow students to illegally duplicate computer software or illegally access any data base or electronic bulletin board. Some districts also audit, without notice, any equipment on the districts property to make certain it is in compliance with copyright laws and the district's policies.
Educating Students on Copyright Law
Because it is important to teach students that the right of software producers must be respected, you may want to incorporate ethical issues into a specific computer curriculum. You might also want to publish your districts policies regarding computer use in a student handbook and in newsletters or other materials sent home to parents.
(Excerpted from NSBA's publication, Becoming a Better Board Member)
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