Macrat’s word of the year: COPYWRONG

Competing with ‘fake news’ that was recently voted the 2017 Word of the Year (WOTY), and the 2016 WOTY ‘post-truth’, you might wonder why we have selected ‘copywrong’.

The short answer is: Because it is wrong to infringe copyright.

This year has brought the question of copyright into sharp focus at the Macrat office, as a number of DBE curriculum advisors saw fit to copy Macrat material and distribute it to teachers in their groups (without paying for it).

At the time we were all very distressed as we try to keep our prices low so that all teachers can afford the resources, and if teachers have a problem financially, we would like to think that they would discuss it with us so that we can come to an arrangement. We felt quite ‘violated’ when DBE officials, who should know better, distributed our material without permission.

The talk about Charl Pauw’s book this week has again reminded me of the issue of copyright and I was astounded to find out that ‘copywrong’ is in fact a word and not only a word conjured up in my own mind.

When a copy of Charl Pauw’s book arrived on my phone last week, I surprised most of the people in the WhatsApp group by asking them to please delete the PDF. I will buy the book and anyone who wants to read it may borrow it. Charl Pauw has very graciously said that if people can genuinely not afford the book, they should read the PDF, but otherwise he has recommended that interested people purchase the book.

In our world where information is so readily available online, do people – especially young people – even consider copyright? When is it OK to download music, photocopy material or duplicate texts without paying for it? Is it honest or ethical to distribute educational material to poor schools at the expense of the person who wrote the material? When is it OK to phocotopy a few pages from a textbook for your learners?

It’s not always easy to decide what the right thing is to do, but there is only ever one right thing to do – and that is not to do the wrong thing. Using copyrighted material without paying for it, or asking permission to use it, is the wrong thing to do. Please do not encourage copywrong and teach your learners (and colleagues) the difference between right and wrong – and about facing up to the consequences of making the wrong choices. Teach them by example about having a moral conscience and not hesitating to do the right thing – otherwise how will they ever tell the difference between right and wrong?

Please let us know your thoughts on this issue.

Categories: Macrat Musings

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