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John Simkin

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I am a member of a forum for history teachers. Yesterday a history teacher posted the following message:

If you:

-have a digital projector but no internet connection in your classroom;

-suffer from an erratic connection at school;

-want to retain control over web links etc., or

-don't want your network administrator to get his/her hands on your machine,

then it can be difficult, if not impossible, to work with entire websites in the classroom.

I tried the WebWhacker Education Edition (which costs around $40) and found it to be unsatisfactory, but I persevered with it because there didn't seem to be anything else. There's another option now, which is elegant and free, and which I've been using to good effect.

You need to use the Mozilla browser (download from http://ftp.mozilla.org/pub/mozilla.org/moz...6-installer.exe for the Windoze version or get off a cover disc) or the Firefox browser (from http://ftp.mozilla.org/pub/mozilla.org/fir...xSetup-0.8.exe) and then install the Spiderzilla extension (here http://spiderzilla.mozdev.org/).

It works a treat, and IMHO the Mozilla setup is far superior to Internet Explorer, particularly when you consider it provides an email client with fewer holes than Outlook Express and a lot more flexibility.

A word of warning - if you're using a dial-up connection choose your sites very carefully, and set the spidering limits low, otherwise you could spend a long time downloading a load of irrelevant stuff!

I replied: Unless you have permission from the website owner (highly unlikely it will be given) this is an illegal activity. Some websites will have software that will indicate that you are downloading their site and you are likely to get into big trouble.

I also pointed out that people produce free material for use on the Internet. The only reward they get for this work is the advertising the site carries or through sponsorship (based on page impressions). Once this material is downloaded for use on another platform these rewards come to an end. Therefore the copyright holder understandably sees this as theft.

Some producers of educational material do it as a hobby and do not seek any reward for their work. They might well agree to have their website downloaded onto a school intranet. However, you will need to ask their permission first. They will especially concerned that this material is not then uploaded onto a school website and presented as the teacher’s own work (not an uncommon occurrence).

He then came back with the argument:

That WebWhacker did not come with any warnings about downloading sites without permission etc. - some disclaimer of the type that accompanies recordable/re-writable CDs might have been expected. I don't pretend to be as well-informed about these matters as you, particularly given your direct interest in the matter, and I would really like to know the ins and outs of this area.

Also, we are allowed to copy a certain percentage of any book for use in school, are we not? Why then not allow us to copy a percentage of a website. I have found the BBC's history of the Troubles in Northern Ireland invaluable, for example, but it represents the tiniest fraction of the stuff that's to be found on BBCi (which carries no advertising, I think, so am I on safer ground there?)

I replied: “You are allowed to photocopy parts of books in schools. However, this is an agreement that has been arranged with the government, Publishers Association and the Society of Authors. Every term schools are selected to keep a record of everything they photocopy. From these details authors and publishers are paid money for the materials they have had photocopied. Every six months I get a reasonable cheque for my work being photocopied. No such arrangement has been made for downloading websites.”

I must say I was shocked that a teacher could believe that it was acceptable to download a whole website to an intranet without seeking permission. Has anyone else encountered this problem?

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I have lots of evidence that free materials from two of my sites has been stolen in this way. They've even gone to lengths to remove original identifying markings that link it to my sites and pass it off as their own work. This is plagiarism pure and simple.

I have two branches to one of my sites. One is free and the other is subscription based. I don't actually earn any money from either and both are advert free. A personal thing, since I detest adverts with a passion but accept that if it wasn't for advertisements, many great educational sites wouldn't exist. My subscription site enables me to pay authors a decent royalty fee for real quality stuff and provide them and me with up to date IT equipment to do the job efficiently.

What is particularly interesting is that plagiarisms and theft occur from my free site and never from the subscription site where the materials are of much higher quality. One of the reasons is undoubtedly that the free site has more traffic, but I think that there is a perception that if material appears for free then it is fair game to use it as one wishes, whereas if it has been paid for, the purchaser is more protective of it and unwilling to pass it on.

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John Simkin writes:

I must say I was shocked that a teacher could believe that it was acceptable to download a whole website to an intranet without seeking permission. Has anyone else encountered this problem?

It is not at all uncommon for teachers to believe that it is OK to copy anything that they find on the Web – and, of course, it isn’t. John is quite right to point this out, and I support entirely what he says. In my training workshops I always draw teachers’ attention to the basics of copyright law, and I have produced a Web page containing a few essential guidelines and links:


There are two useful documents that can be found at the BECTA ICT Advice site: http://www.ictadvice.org

Search the site under “copyright” to find them. I am quoting the relevant extracts below:

Document 1: What are the copyright laws about electronic materials?

Copyright information is commonly made available on web pages, usually under a heading such as ‘Conditions of use’ or ‘Copyright statement’ - and often at the bottom of a page. Where the intended use is not defined or is severely restricted, contact the site owner or webmaster to request permission to use it in the way you want to.

When contacting a copyright holder, the following information will be useful:

 The name of the software product or, for a resource on a web page, the relevant URL

 Details of the intended use and the purpose of that use, for example, making multiple copies for classroom handouts

 Where the resource is to be used, for example, in a single educational establishment, across an EA or on a school website

 Whether any revenues will be generated.

 Permission is only granted at the discretion of the copyright holder, who may wish to charge a fee for use. However, they may allow free use for educational purposes and might subsequently include educational uses in future copyright statements.

Document 2: Copyright involving electronic materials: advice and issues for schools

Fair Dealing

Fair dealing permits certain acts without requiring the permission of the copyright owner. These include what is reasonable for private study and research. Making multiple copies for classroom use has been established as being outside these definitions. The provisions for fair dealing are covered by the Copyright, Design and Patents Act 1988.

Permissible uses with respect to ICT are:

 web browsers making a temporary copy of a web page or relevant files, otherwise known as caching, as it is integral to accessing the Internet and using it efficiently

 printing out of a single copy of a web page, although not the whole web site, for private study or research. For schools, the same rules apply as for photocopying, that no more than 1% of the web site may be reproduced

 making a single copy of a web page, although not the whole web site, to a hard drive or floppy disk, as long as it is not for the purpose of producing multiple copies

 quoting from a web page or text available on the Internet as long as the source is acknowledged and it is for the purpose of criticism or review

 making a temporary copy of a file or web page for the purpose of electronic transmission such as email, to an individual for their private study or research. The copy should be deleted as soon as the transmission is complete.

Fair dealing ceases if:

 a single hard copy or electronic copy is made with the intention of producing multiple copies or redistributing it either in paper form or electronically

 it is known that a licence is available to permit copying, but has not been sought

 the copies are used commercially, sold or hired, whether it was the original intention or not when the copying took place

 the copy is made publicly available, such as on a web site, without the permission of the copyright holder.

What are the issues surrounding permissible use of electronic materials?

The difficulty of relying on fair dealing to define what can and cannot be done is that it is very limited and, particularly when ICT is involved, open to interpretation. For example, many electronic processes require copies of files to be made automatically. Strictly, this would be a breach of copyright if the copies were not deleted as soon as a process was completed, yet most computer programs are not set up to do this immediately.

Also, by printing part of a web site, other copyrighted materials may be included, such as photographs. Therefore, whilst only a small part of the actual site has been reproduced, 100% of other types of media may be reproduced incidentally, which would fall outside fair dealing conditions.

Regarding the issue of plagiarism, which Rob Jones raises, see Section 7 on the above Web page at the ICT4LT website:

7. Plagiarism: detection, deterrence and avoidance


My work on the Web has been plagiarised too. I found one culprit and rapped his knuckles firmly.

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