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Teachers in intellectual property litigation over lesson plans

Most everyone remembers that special teacher whose lessons were interesting because they deviated from the textbook. Such teachers often spend many hours preparing lessons and creating innovative ways to make learning joyful for their students. Technology allows these teachers to share their creative lesson plans and to make money doing so. However, some New York educators are resorting to intellectual property litigation because others are profiting from their hard work.

It is common for teachers to create their own websites or blogs where they share their lesson plans as a resource for other educators. Additionally, websites like Teachers Pay Teachers allow instructors to sell their plans and curriculum materials to other teachers. Unfortunately, it is not unusual for a teacher to find that colleagues have taken his or her material from the website and posted it on Teachers Pay Teachers to sell as their own.

One woman found that several other teachers had poached items from her website and posted them exactly as they were, even with the teacher’s own handwritten notes still on the page. Some posters are apologetic and remove the items, but others refuse and continue to profit when customers purchase their offerings. The website does not police the items posted since it would be impossible to know which items are stolen and which are posted with permission.

The sad fact is that many educators do not know or respect the laws related to copyright protection and may even try to sell materials owned by a school district. Still, they have a responsibility to comply with the laws that protect the creative work of their peers. Intellectual property litigation is often the only step teachers can take to protect their rights to use their creative lesson plans and materials as they see fit. With the assistance of an attorney, New York teachers can pursue a cease and desist order as well as seeking restitution.