Category: Blog

Copyright and Fair Use: Free Poster for Your School or Library

The issue of copyright comes up often in a school. Teachers want to use material in their lesson: newspapers, magazines, books, films, recordings, art, and so on. Often, they turn to the librarian for help on understanding Fair Use in the Library.

The best source for understanding Fair Use is the Library of Congress Copyright Office’s own information. Circular 21 summarizes the law about Fair Use. Download Circular 21 here. (pdf)

While it’s a relatively short document, just 24 pages, the section that you’ll want to read for books is even shorter, pages 5-7. The poster shows the main points of the Fair Use guidelines.

First, single copies are fine.
The problem is when multiple copies are reproduced for use in a classroom. In that case, there are three tests to apply, and some prohibited uses.

3 Tests of Fair Use

For reproduction that is allowed under Fair Use, there are 3 tests:

  1. The Spontaneity Test – Teacher just decided to use this material and doesn’t have time to request permission. Please try to locate the author’s email and ask permission.
  2. The Brevity Test – Short sections, usually less than 10%
  3. The Cumulative Effect Test – Copying is for only one course in the school; no more than 9 instances of such multiple copying for one course during one class term; no more than 3 from the same collective work during one class term.

Prohibited under Fair Use

The following instances of multiple copies are not allowed at all under Fair Use.

  1. Cannot be used to create or replace an anthology, compilation or collective works.
  2. Cannot copy from works intended to be consumable, such as workbooks,exercises, standardized tests, etc.
  3. Copying shall not substitute for the purchase of books or be repeated by the same teacher from term to term.
  4. Students cannot be charged.

Discussion of Fair Use Guidelines

We think the Spontaneity Test is one of the biggest changes in the last few decades. Thirty years ago, a teacher would have to write to the publicity or rights department of a publisher, hoping for an answer sometime this year. Today, however, teachers can easily find an author’s website and email them directly. Believe me, if I received a request from a teacher to use something from a book, I’d be included to give permission. If you asked to photocopy 100 copies of a color picture book, the answer is no. Emphatically. However, if you only want to photocopy one page for a class of 20 students, I’m likely to say yes. Authors want readers reading their work! Reasonable requests will likely be approved within minutes of your request. Be brave: Ask.

In the above example, I said that a single page would likely be acceptable to an author. Brevity is indeed important to authors. If you photocopy a full color picture book, a) you’re paying a lot for paper and ink for a product that won’t last, b) you’ve deprived the author of income for those copies. One page versus 32 page is a crucial distinction.

The Cumulative Test is frustrating to some teachers. When they find a favorite author, are working on an author study unit and so on, it’s hard not to use material for multiple stories. For example, if you’re studying a contemporary author and want to read chapters from all of his/her books, you can only use copies from three books. No more. Again, think of the impact on the author’s income. It’s not just the loss from one sale, but from multiple sales.

These are tricky issues because schools, libraries and teachers have one overwhelming concern: cost. Besides quality education, the lack of funding is the biggest issue teachers face when looking for teaching materials. There may be an absolutely perfect book for a certain lesson, but there are no funds to buy it. Teachers spend too much of their own money on such purchases. Publishers and authors understand this problem and work to hold down costs. But it’s a Catch-22. We can’t afford to give away books; teachers can’t afford to buy them.

There’s no easy solution. But U.S. Copyright Law still says you can’t photocopy that work. The author’s copyright is the only thing that allows them to keep working on the next book. Without copyright protection, an author’s ability to make a living from their writing is lost. As a culture, we need to protect copyright to encourage more writers and artists of all kinds. It’s not easy in the short run; but in the long run, it’s good for society.

The following poster may be reproduced and used as needed. We suggest posting it in your library, teacher workroom, beside copy machines and so on. To save it, right-click and SaveAs.

Free poster about Fair Use - Copyright for Libraries and Schools |

Blue House: Which Photo is Mims House?

Mims House makes its home in the historic Quapaw Quarter of Little Rock. Houses in this historic neighborhood are named for the family who lived there in 1890. The Mims family gave their name to our office. About 20 years ago, it was gutted and rebuilt with reproduction wallpapers and beautiful hardwoods.

Which of these blue houses is Mims House?
The first correct answer will receive a paperback book of your choice.

House 1

House 1: Which house is Mims House? |

House 2

Is this Mims House?

House 3

Which blue house is Mims House? |

House 4

Is this Mims House? |

House 5

Could this be Mims House? |

Leave a comment with your guess of which house is really Mims House.

Oldest Wild Bird in World Returns to Midway: Wisdom

The Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge and Battle of Midway National Memorial refuge officials report that Wisdom is back! She is the oldest known wild bird in the world. First banded in 1956, when they put her age at 5 years old minimum, she is now over 64 years old.

This beautiful old lady was sighted on November 19. After mating, she’s gone out again to forage and eat, but should be back soon to lay an egg. Officials think this will be at least her 37th egg/hatchling. If Wisdom hadn’t returned, it wouldn’t have been a surprise because often Laysan albatrosses take a year off here and there. Wisdom hasn’t take a break since at least 2007.

Find more at Wisdom’s Facebook page, run by the National Memorial staff.

Oldest Bird Returns for 2015-16 Breeding Season

In a recent blog post on the USFWS Pacific Region Tumbler, the Deputy Refuge Manager says:

“Wisdom left soon after mating but we expect her back any day now to lay her egg,” noted Deputy Refuge Manager, Bret Wolfe. “It is very humbling to think that she has been visiting Midway for at least 64 years. Navy sailors and their families likely walked by her not knowing she could possibly be rearing a chick over 50 years later. She represents a connection to Midway’s past as well as embodying our hope for the future.”

Wisdom, the Midway Albatross, November 25, 2015. The oldest wild bird in the world has survived another year and returned to Midway Island for another breeding season. |
Notice the red leg band with the letters ZZZ. This special colorful band allows officials to locate Wisdom easily. Photo by Kiah Walker, Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge and Battle of Midway National Memorial volunteer.

Read more of Wisdom’s story: The Oldest Bird in the World at 64+ Years Old

Wisdom, the Midway Albatross | Oldest Wild Bird in the World survives another year. | Mims House

November is Picture Book Month – Celebrate Children’s Literature

An international literacy movement has declared that November is Picture Book Month. Their blog includes a daily post by a picture book champion explaining why he/she thinks picture books are important. Here’s why I think picture books are important.

Our family was traveling toward a vacation spot and the conversation lagged. In the distance a storm threatened.

Then, one of my three daughters said, “Look at that cloud! The big, black cloud, all heavy with rain, that shadowed the ground on Kapiti Plain.” (Bringing the Rain to Kapiti Plain)

It sparked over an hour of conversation among my four kids about their favorite children’s picture books. Often, they quoted a line or two.

My Kids’ Favorite Picture Books

  1. “Goodnight, nobody.” (Goodnight Moon)
  2. “In an old house in Paris, all covered with vines. . .To the tiger in the zoo, she just said, ‘Pooh, pooh.'” (Madeline)
  3. “He started to do all of his old tricks. He flip-flopped and he flop-flipped.” (Harry, the Dirty Dog, the 50th anniversary edition)
  4. 3 days on a river in a red canoe. (3 Days on a River in a Red Canoe by Vera B. Williams, who sadly passed away this month.)

The list went on and on.

In other words, the picture books we had shared as they grew up had become warp and woof of our shared family life. That’s what literature does: stories, words, concepts, emotions–they burrow into our lives and enrich us in numerous ways. The more I thought about it, the more I was amazed at this simple truth: A deep and wide knowledge of literature – children’s literature specifically – carries through to adult life.

I had spent hours and hours going to the library to check out yet another stack of books, and then read and read for hours to the kids as they grew. Those were hours invested in a lives that I hoped would become thoughtful, sensitive, intelligent people.

My son is currently in gunsmithing school, learning to make and repair guns. He recently sent me a tirade of emails that shocked me. “Did you know,” he asked, “that no one here has ever heard of Aesop’s fables?”

He was outraged, that’s what shocked me – happily! He wanted to use the verbal shorthand that comes from quoting or referring to an Aesop’s fable. He might have said, “I may be a turtle on this project, but in the end, I’ll beat you rabbits.”

By that, he would mean that he’s working slowly, but steadily. By implication, he’s diligently doing the work with excellence; by contrast, the rabbits were speeding along, but maybe not doing the job with excellence.

Do you remember the story of A Bargain for Frances by Russell Hoban. In this gem, I learned diplomacy. Frances and her friend, Thelma, make a bargain for a tea set. When Frances realizes she’s been tricked, she tricks Thelma in return. At the end, Frances asks, “Do you want to be careful, or do you want to be friends?”

Indeed! Such wisdom from an unexpected source. Many times, I’ve been faced with someone whom I suspect of underhanded dealings, and I shake my head and whisper to myself, “Do you want to be careful, or do you want to be friends?”

What is a picture book? A simple 32-page story. A shared life. A shorthand for explaining a situation. A source of wisdom. They may be short, but they aren’t simple.

See the full list of Mims House Picture Books Here

Abayomi, the Brazilian Puma: The death of this cub's mother sparked interest in a puma corridor in Brazil. | Mims House
Click to read Abayomi’s story today.

Wisdom, the Midway Albatross | Surviving plastic pollution and other disasters for over 65 years. | Mims House

See the full list of Mims House Picture Books Here

Pay With Your Amazon Account

We are excited to offer you a new option for paying for ebooks. Amazon payments allows you to log into your Amazon account and use information stored there to pay for your ebooks.
This is now the default method of payment; however, if you scroll to the bottom of the order form, you still have the option to pay with PayPal, or to use your credit ard with Stripe.

We hope this additional payment option makes the process much simpler.

Happy Valentine’s Day Wisdom and Family!

In honor of Valentine’s Day and of Wisdom, the oldest bird in the world at 63, who just hatched a new chick on Feb 4, 2014 AND her mate (of undetermined age), here’s a 28-second video that shows the mating dance of the Laysan albatross. They bob up and down and trumpet.

If you can’t see this video, click here.

Here’s the latest photo of Wisdom and her chick, taken on 2/12/2014.

Wisdom’s bird band is visible as she sits with her chick on Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge. Photo credit: Dan Clark/USFWS
Wisdom’s bird band is visible as she sits with her chick on Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge. Photo credit: Dan Clark/USFWS

Illustrator Kitty Harvill Receives AFC Award

Artists for Conservation

Kitty Harvill, the illustrator of WISDOM, THE MIDWAY ALBATROSS, has just been named the recipient of the AFC Monthly Conservation Artist Award. The Award is made each month to a member of our group who has demonstrated a combination of artistic excellence and who has made an outstanding contribution to the conservation cause. We hope the extra exposure will put Wisdom’s story in front of even more children. See more of Kitty’s wildlife art at her blog or on her Facebook page.

If you can’t see this video, click here.

Congratulations to Wisdom on her STAR!

Manao'lana, Wisdom's 2013 chick. Taken February 26, 2013.
Manao’lana, Wisdom’s 2013 chick. Taken February 26, 2013.
Hurrah! Wisdom has a brand new chick hatched in February. She is named Manaolana, which is Hawaiian for Hope.

And our book, WISDOM, THE MIDWAY ALBATROSS received a
*STARRED REVIEW in Publisher’s Weekly
Harvill (Up, Up. Up! It’s Apple-Picking Time) contributes carefully detailed and naturalistic illustrations, portraying both the beauty and danger of Wisdom’s aquatic environment (discarded plastic and the 2011 Japanese earthquake and tsunami are among the hazards Wisdom manages to escape). . . .Pattison writes crisply and evocatively, and her closing notes provide a wealth of information for readers interested in Wisdom and her fellow albatrosses.