Teachers Write – About Copyright & Sharing Content

Hi, everybody! I’ve gotten some emails & requests lately from people who are excited about Teachers Write (which is great!) and want to share the content with the whole entire world (which can be great or not-so-great, depending on how you do it.)

Here’s the thing… Material posted on blogs is protected under copyright.  Copying and pasting an entire blog post and posting it on another blog or website or wiki, or turning it into a pdf and offering it for download is kind of like scanning a published book into your computer and uploading it to an illegal download site for book pirating.

When people do that with books & music, they are stealing from authors and artists. I’m not making any money from this blog, but the fact that you are here, on my website, reading my content is important to me. If the content that I share here (or that Gae shares on her blog or Jen on TMT)  is suddenly published in a zillion other places, that makes it less special.  It also makes it harder for me to defend the many hours I’m spending on this writing camp to my publishers when they ask when my next book will be done.

More importantly than that, though, I feel a responsibility to the guest authors who have been sharing their time and ideas here. I asked them for — and received — permission to post their mini-lessons and essays and prompts here, on this blog as part of the official Teachers Write camp.  That’s all. They haven’t given permission for their stuff to be shared elsewhere, and while finding it in other places might be okay with some of them, it will most certainly ruffle the feathers of others, and rightfully so. Because the words belong to them, and it’s not what they gave permission for.

I totally understand that you are all awesome people who respect authors and artists and ideas, and I know that your only goal here is to share what you think is useful content. But please, please do that in a way that respects the creators of that content as well as copyright laws. Here are some guidelines:


OKAY: Writing a blog post with the writing that you created in response to a writing prompt or assignment, with a link to the assignment at its original URL.

NOT OKAY: Copying and pasting the entire assignment or prompt on  your own blog or website.


OKAY: Copying and pasting the content of an assignment or prompt into a Word document to save in a file or print for a paper binder for your own personal use.

NOT OKAY: Copying and pasting assignments/prompts into a Word document and offering it as a download online. (Essentially, this is the file-sharing model used by Napster and other pirating sites.)


OKAY: Creating a “Best of Teachers Write” list with post titles and the original URL links to your favorite assignments and prompts, and sharing this list that you created on your blog, Facebook, Twitter, or anywhere else you like.

NOT OKAY: Copying and pasting a guest author’s prompt that you loved into your blog, facebook update, or someplace else online.


When in doubt, don’t copy and paste. Link to the original content on the site where it was originally published.

Please don’t fret if you broke one of these guidelines before you read this.  Just fix it if you can. I know that you are all awesome people, and you don’t need to email me to ask if I still love you. I do. 🙂

But really….these are good guidelines for any website or book or other artistic content that you like. Send people to the original source — the original website, the published book, the link to purchase the song on iTunes — rather than copying or sharing in a way that takes away from the creator of that work.

Many of you have written to me or talked in blog comments about wanting to have this Teachers Write content in one place where it’s easier to access. I hear you loud and clear, and one of the publishers I work with has already approached me about the possibility of putting together a Teachers Write book.  I love that idea. I hope it works out and gives us that place to have all the lessons and prompts easy to access, and I hope we can include some excerpts of the great writing you’ve done this summer, too. But doing that the right way — writing to every author who contributed a guest post to see if they’d like to have it included or not — will take time.  I’m working on it — I promise — and I do think we’ll end up with what you’ve asked for, which is all of the material in one place as both a paper book and an e-book.  (I also have this fantasy that if it comes together & people buy it, I’ll be able to offer a one-time scholarship for teachers who want to attend a writing conference or retreat…but that is a post for another day.)

Anyway…I know you want all the Teachers Write stuff in one place.

I’m working on it, but I really want to do it the right way, legally, and in a way that respects all the authors who have contributed. In the mean time, all the Teachers Write posts will be here, on my blog, and you can bookmark any post and visit any time.

If you’d help me out with that by following the sharing guidelines above, I’d really appreciate it.

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  1. MariaSelke @mselke01
    Posted July 19, 2012 at 2:01 pm | Permalink

    A book would be marvelous! I know I’d buy that. I bet you never thought this camp would get big enough to need a disclaimer like this, right? Thank you for stating these guidelines clearly. I think it’s important the people know that any time they like something they read online they should always link back to the original source. That way we all win 🙂

  2. Posted July 19, 2012 at 2:13 pm | Permalink

    Guidelines are good. What an awesome bunch of teachers here.

  3. Erika
    Posted July 19, 2012 at 2:29 pm | Permalink

    It makes sense. Thanks for clarifying. Thanks also for all you have down for this amazing project.

  4. Posted July 19, 2012 at 2:40 pm | Permalink

    Thanks! This is so important in a day and age when it is so easy to click and paste. I have been working with my fourth graders to understand this so we as teachers must also be clear. Love the okay/not okay. This perfect and I plan to share with my 4/5 graders writers this fall!

    And yes to book and ebook. Thought you might go that direction! Congrats on a great summer camp. You guys have worked hard and you can see it.

  5. Posted July 19, 2012 at 3:06 pm | Permalink

    Well-said, Kate. Actually, this summary is more than well-said — it is masterful — and thank you so much for doing this — and for doing Teachers Write! Much aloha and many mahalos to you, Gae, and Jen. 🙂

  6. Posted July 19, 2012 at 3:08 pm | Permalink

    Honestly, I love you all and have been playing along at home, but I have been reluctant to post what I’ve been up to for this reason. These guidelines are wonderful and should be posted (WITH THE URL!) everywhere! 🙂 Kate, I will thank you in person in a few weeks. I hope that the Teachers Write! book happens!

  7. Posted July 19, 2012 at 4:15 pm | Permalink

    So…just to be clear, the pdf I rec’d from Andy is okay? I will use it in my classroom, but I had bookmarked everything and had it anyway…

  8. Posted July 19, 2012 at 4:15 pm | Permalink

    You know how it is when you know something is not quite right, but you don’t know why. I really appreciate the clear Okay/ Not Okay guidelines. These waters are still murky as I navigate more and more into the blog world. You have done a great service for all of us. We will definitely buy the book.

    • Posted July 19, 2012 at 4:34 pm | Permalink

      I would like to echo Margaret’s words and add a huge thank-you as well!

  9. Posted July 19, 2012 at 4:24 pm | Permalink

    Kate, thank you for the reminder. It has been a great summer of learning and sharing. Also, thank you for your patience, organization, and your way with words. You are not only an awesome author, but you are also an awesome teacher!:)

  10. Andrea Payan
    Posted July 19, 2012 at 10:06 pm | Permalink

    Thank you for the crystal clear guidelines and the reminder. I love the idea of a book and THANK YOU again for working on this and putting everything together for us.

  11. Jone
    Posted July 20, 2012 at 12:14 pm | Permalink

    Grear post, Kate. Copyright is something I always teach my students. And remind teachers when they want to copy things.

  12. Posted July 22, 2012 at 3:46 pm | Permalink

    Great post – thank you! I’ve just recently started my blog, and this is wonderful to know. I certainly would never want to offend great writers and teachers out there who are creating marvelous material!

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