Thursday, June 12, 2014

IPad for Stories: Educational Fair Use?

Dear Rich: I would like to use a single story from an anthology of stories in my 6th grade Humanities class. Our school has recently begun a 1:1 iPad program, so each student will have an iPad to use.  Therefore, I would like to scan the story and share it with my students through our password-protected school website. To my mind, this would be the digital equivalent of providing students with a photocopy of the story. Is scanning and sharing with students online off-limits, or would this fall under educational fair use? Unfortunately the educational fair use guidelines were written prior to the existence of iPad learning and they reference photocopying, not digital scans. The guidelines provide that a copy of a short story can be distributed to each student provided it meets the guideline standards of brevity and spontaneity. In terms of brevity, the guidelines limit copying to a complete article, story, or essay if less than 2,500 words or an excerpt from any prose work of not more than 1,000 words or 10% of the work, whichever is less. (We summarize the rules here.) Although you can analogize to these rules, the proposed digital educational rules (no official consensus was ever reached) do not include a similar textual reproduction rule. In summary, there is no rule that clearly exempts your use. In any case, we don't imagine you'll run into a problem, particularly if access is password-protected and you can remove the copies from iPads (or terminate access).