Bright Ideas Press recently requested that a blogging mom remove her free notebooking pages because the company felt that they infringed on their copyright of the Mystery of History curriculum.
This is an important issue for homeschooling moms. We love to supplement our curriculum with homemade materials — notebooking pages, minibook templates, worksheets, etc. Furthermore, we love to share what we create with others. What is okay to share, and what is not okay?
The issue here is the creation of derivative materials from trademarked products. Even if a mom were sharing her printables free of charge, she is violating intellectual property rights when she uses the exact (trademarked) name of the curriculum or uses lesson/chapter titles from that resource.
What is the solution?
1. She can not share what she creates.
A publisher doesn’t care if you make derivative works for your own educational use. It’s when you start sharing them that the problem arises.
2. She can make her printables more generic.
Removing any reference to a specific, trademarked curriculum or book will fix the problem. In the case linked above, this is easy. Daisy can rename her printables History Pages or some other general title. No publisher owns the rights to general terms like “The Middle Ages” or “Ancient Egypt.”
Moral of the Story
Look at your free printables through the eyes of a publisher or author. They worked hard, creating that curriculum and will work hard to protect it. Do your freebies give away too much about the curriculum or use exact wording from the curriculum? If so, revamp the printables so that they can be used with any curriculum at all.
The publisher would be glad for you to mention your use of their curriculum. So do that. But make sure your freebies are supplements to your topic of study and not derivative works of a specific curriculum.