Thursday, April 22, 2021

Selling on TPT 101: Terms of Use and Credits

Selling on TPT 101: Credits and Terms of Use | Apples to Applique

Hi, friends! Welcome to TPT 101: Part 6! (Click on these links to find Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, and Part 5!)

Today, we're going to talk about an important part of product creation that can seem a little tedious: crediting artists whose work you've used and creating your own terms of use.

Most clip artists require a link back to their store when you use their art. Typically, they will include their logo as an image file with any clip art you have purchased. The best way to credit them in your product is by including a page in your file that acknowledges them. I put something along the lines of "Clip art and fonts by these talented artists", followed by images of their logos. Then, I link each of their logos to their respective stores. This can be done easily in PowerPoint by right-clicking on the logo and then clicking on "link". Then you simply insert the link to that store. Of course, you will want to double-check the terms of use of each artist, but for most of them, this process meets the criteria.

Speaking of terms of use, you will want to create your own for your products. Personally, I include this at the bottom of my credits page with my copyright information, but some sellers put it as a separate page. It doesn't really matter how you choose to do it, as long as it is included and easy for your buyers to find and understand. 

To create your terms of use, think of what you want to allow with the purchase of your product. Most sellers include some wording about not using the product for commercial use and prohibiting the redistribution to other teachers, indicating that the sale is for a single classroom. Here is the wording I use, which you are welcome to use yourself or adjust to meet your needs: 

"©[Year] Amber Hock, M.Ed., Apples to Applique. All rights reserved. Purchase of this unit entitles the purchaser to reproduce the pages in limited quantity for one classroom use only. Resource may not be uploaded to the internet. Duplication for an entire school, district, or commercial use is prohibited without written permission from the publisher."

Creating your credits and terms of use is one of the less-fun aspects of creating, but is so important! The good news is that, once you have created it, you can easily copy and adapt it for future products.

I hope you're getting more comfortable with the idea of creating and listing your products! Stay tuned for Part 7, where we'll discuss how to flatten and secure your products to prevent elements from being lifted and stolen.

Until then, keep working on bringing your ideas to life, and keep teaching with heart and passion!

Sunday, April 4, 2021

Selling on TPT 101: Copyright and Trademark

Selling on TPT 101: Copyright and Trademark | Apples to Applique
Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer, and this is not official legal advice. For specific questions, contact a lawyer who specializes in copyright law.

Welcome to TPT 101: Part 5! (Click on these links to find Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4!

When I have talked to other teachers about the possibility of selling on Teachers Pay Teachers, many of them are hesitant because they are afraid of unintentionally breaking copyright law. I understand that fear; it is a legitimate concern, and something to learn about before you dive into creating resources. I am by no means an expert on all things copyright or trademark, and this is NOT legal advice, but I wanted to pass along some things that I have learned over the last 6 years of creating.

1. Many things are copyrighted or trademarked that you would not assume, and you cannot use these terms/characters/images without express permission from the owner. That means you cannot use them at all. You cannot refer to them in your title, description, or product. This includes specific curriculum!

2. Websites like Trademarkia are your friend. If you are unsure about a brand or term, type it into their search bar and see if there is a live trademark on it.

3. Don't trust what you see other TPT sellers doing. You will find thousands of copyright violations on Teachers Pay Teachers. Sadly, TPT does not vet their products and will only take products down if they receive a cease and desist letter. I believe this takes away from the legitimacy of the site as a whole, but they claim they cannot take on this responsibility. It is up to us as sellers to ensure the quality of the site by taking extra care that our resources do not violate copyright and trademark; this helps all of us by enabling buyers to trust that our resources are ethical and legitimate.

Again, just because you see something on TPT does not mean it is not a violation of copyright. Some sellers have gone through the proper channels to receive permission, others are simply innocently unaware, and, disappointingly, some have decided it is worth the risk. I am here to tell you it is not; some companies do frequently go through the site and issue cease and desist letters and TPT can offer refunds on all of those sales, which come out of your earnings. The company can also take legal and financial action against you, so just don't go there. It isn't worth it!

4. Always do your own research and do not blindly trust secondhand research from others, but a good rule of thumb is to avoid common characters and brand names. Use generic terms in place of brand names. Just avoid referring to children's characters all together; these companies simply do not grant permission for their use by entrepreneurs, so don't even waste your time trying. 

I actually have a personal anecdote on this one that also serves as a warning: when I was first starting on TPT, I purchased some clip art featuring some popular children's book characters which stated it was for commercial use. I thought I was in the clear, but I was not. The clip artist had merely saved images from an internet search, packaged them together, and resold them. Of course the seller didn't care if they were used for commercial purposes; they didn't have the rights to them in the first place! Thankfully I realized the error before that particular company did a sweep of TPT (which they do frequently) and I deleted the products. But had I done more research on copyright and trademark, I would have avoided the situation in the first place.

5. Try not to be discouraged by this post! I do not want to scare you away from creating products! Just make sure your work is your original creation and that any clip art you purchase is the original work of the seller. Most clip artists do only sell their own work, and as long as they are not a replication of a familiar character, and they state that you are allowed to use their work commercially, you should be good to go!

Stay tuned for Part 6, in which we will discuss writing your own terms of use and properly crediting artists whose work you've used in your products.

Until then, keep teaching (and creating!) with heart and passion!