Thursday, July 23, 2015

The Use and Misuse of Copyrighted Materials in the Classroom


As the new school year approaches, teachers often wonder what materials they can use to supplement the textbooks provided by their schools. Can you photocopy a short story for your English class? Can you show a movie to your third graders? Are there special rules for materials found on the Internet?

It isn’t possible to give a thorough answer in a blog post, but here are some quick tips. These are general guidelines only. 

  • Printed Material
    • In general, short works and short excerpts of larger works may be copied one-per-student if (1) made from legally acquired originals and (2) there isn’t enough time between the decision to use it and the moment of its use to obtain permission. (This latter condition requires good faith, and the work or excerpt can’t be used again without permission.)
    • Short works and short excerpts of larger works may be incorporated by a teacher into a multimedia presentation (e.g., PowerPoint) for classroom teaching if (1) made from legally acquired originals and (2) there isn’t enough time between the decision to use it and the moment of its use to obtain permission.
    • This copying must not be a frequent occurrence (no more than nine times per class per year).
    • Short excerpts may be incorporated into student multimedia projects if made from legally acquired originals.
    • Current newspaper and news magazine articles may be reproduced.
    • Creating anthologies from copyrighted material is not allowed.
    • Teachers may not reproduce workbooks or other “consumables.”
    • Students may not be charged any more than the actual copying cost.
    • Special rules apply to course packs sold to students.
  • Digital Text (e.g., E-Books)
    • Digital materials are subject to the same rules as print materials.
  • Movies and Television Programs
    • In general, movies and television shows that have been published for general consumption (e.g., commercially sold DVDs) may be shown in the classroom if legally acquired and shown for instructional purposes.
    • Programs recorded from broadcast television (the “free” stations) may be shown within a short time after the program airs (generally ten school days.)
    • Teachers may not use pirated copies or copies made from pirated copies.
    • Admission fees are not allowed, even if charged indirectly.
    • In general, teachers may not use cable television programs recorded from the television.
  • Images (Art and Photographs)
    • Single works may be used if limited to just a few (usually no more than five) images by the same artist or photographer.
    • Excerpts from collections may be used if they are a small part of the collection.
  • Music
    • Copies that have been legitimately obtained may be played for the class.
    • Short excerpts may be included in student multimedia presentations or in those prepared by a teacher for classroom use.
  • Internet
    • Materials on the Internet are subject to the same copyright rules as other materials of the same type. Assume the materials are copyrighted unless you have reason to know they are in the public domain (e.g., federal publications or material published before 1923).
    • Links may be freely shared as long as they do not provide direct access to materials that are password protected.
  • Computer Software
    • Licensing provisions must be honored.
There are no restrictions on material that is in the public domain (e.g., federal publications and material that was first published before 1923). However, annotations and other added material may have to be removed unless they are also in the public domain.

Have a great school year.


Kathryn Page Camp is a licensed attorney and full-time writer. Her most recent book, Writers in Wonderland: Keeping Your Words Legal (KP/PK Publishing 2013), is a Kirkus’ Indie Books of the Month Selection. Kathryn is also the author of In God We Trust: How the Supreme Court’s First Amendment Decisions Affect Organized Religion (FaithWalk Publishing 2006) and numerous articles. You can learn more about Kathryn at

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Read any good sci-fi lately?

Actually, I have.

I saw an invitation on the ACFW Speculative Group Facebook page to review a new science fiction book due out in August called Trial Run by Thomas Locke, aka T. Davis Bunn. I bought Emissary, a fantasy by Locke, for my daughter. She liked it so I thought I would check out his sci-fi, too. I’m really glad I did.

The last sci-fi book I read was Earth Afire by Orson Scott Card, and I found myself initially comparing the two books. Card introduced his nine main characters in the first nine chapters; one chapter per character. Locke does something very similar except Locke’s chapters are significantly shorter; generally only a few pages long, sometimes just two.

While it took me longer to connect with a character in Locke’s book than it did in Card’s, once I did connect it was hard to put Trial Run down. It’s all there – action, mystery, a hint of romance, and an intriguing “technology” for the lack of a better word. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that Locke knows how to write. It’s pretty easy to see why he’s won so many awards. He knows his craft.

For me it was refreshing to read a science fiction story that is completely clean with no obvious agenda. And speaking of agendas, this book is not overtly Christian. If you’re looking for a salvation message, you won’t find it in Trial Run. However, I did see a sliver of opportunity for future books in the series. It will be interesting to see where Locke goes with it.

As a writer, it’s interesting to see what Bunn is doing to build up his pen name and new audiences for genres in which he’s not known. As a reader, I enjoyed reading a good book that I can, without reservation, recommend to everyone I know.

If you want to check out a sample of Trial Run and even download a free ebook from Thomas Locke’s website, you can do that here:

I had fun with the story. I hope you do, too.

Humbly submitted by H.T. Lord

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

What Steven James Means to Me

By Kelly Bridgewater

From Amazon
This is the seventh month of me writing about the authors who have influenced me as a writer. If you missed any previous posts, please return to them and read up on how these certain authors influenced me. There were C. S. Lewis, J. R. R. Tolkien, J. K. Rowling, Arthur Conan Doyle, Alexandre Dumas, and Frances Hodgson Burnett.

Today I will be talking about a contemporary author who I personally met in February 2014. He was the keynote speaker of the Advanced Writer’s Boot Camp Conference in Asheville, North Carolina. I attended with my husband and loved listening to Steven James talk about his rejection letters. He read snippets of them, having the audience rolling in laughter. It made us feel better about the rejection letters we receive.

I was first introduced to Steven James when I was roaming the bookshelves at my local library. If I don’t have a certain author whose book I want to read usually I scan the spine for books by the Christian publisher. I found the Revell Publishing symbol on a book spine, which read The Rook  James. I had never heard of Steven James, but the book was published by a Christian company and the book was thick, so I withdrew it from the shelf and took it home.

I was hooked.

Luckily, for me, The Rook was the second book in the Patrick Bower’s series. The Pawn and The Knight were already published and The Bishop was just about to come out. I loved how Patrick Bower used a unique system to hunt for the serial killers. The killer surprised me in practically every book. When I met James in February, 2014, he was impressed by my copy of The Knight because I had scribbled all over the margins and highlighted key phrases with post-it notes sticking out of the top. I was studying how James crafted a story where the killer was a total shock.

From February 2014 when I got to meet Steven James
Steven James taught me to push the limits when it comes to writing Christian suspense. Not all Christian suspense books have to be completely planned out and PG for the “saved” audience. We are like the secular audience in that we like a story that grips us and tightens more and more as the story progresses. Likewise, he encouraged me to not choose the first bad thing that happened to our characters. Make a list and allow them to squirm. As a writer, you don’t want the reader to guess the ending before they arrive there.

Have you experienced any of Steven James’ Patrick Bower’s series? If so, what is your favorite book of the series? Have you ever studied a book so much that you have marked up your copy of their book in order to improve your own personal writing?

Saturday, July 11, 2015

The Mind of a Line Editor

by Jean Kavich Bloom

For new authors, the editorial process can be a mystery. Then when they are in the thick of it, the number of editing and proofreading rounds can be both surprising and daunting. (For one thing, how are they supposed to concentrate on writing their next book if the one being edited keeps popping back for attention?) But at least when a book gets to the last editing stage—known as line or copy editing—they can see the light at the end of the editorial tunnel. Trust me, proofreading is not as intense!

Authors experiencing a line edit for the first time might wonder how the editor will approach the work. Or more to the point, how he or she will approach their book. I can speak only for myself, so here is a peek into my process.  

1.       I listen to understand. If I don’t know the author, and especially if a publishing house has not asked me to work with the author directly, I try to find a video of him or her speaking. I can often find one on the author’s website or on YouTube. Literal voice is not the same as literary voice, but I still have a better sense of who that author is and how personality might be infusing the work.

2.       I read to understand. I try to read more than edit the first time through a manuscript. Yes, I correct some grammar, spelling, and punctuation nuts and bolts as I go along (most line editors can’t help themselves!), and to ensure I won’t overlook them later I highlight places where I will need to give extra attention. The most important aspect of the first read-through, however, is that I get to know how every element is intended to work together to make a whole.  

3.       I champion the reader. As I read for the second time, the detailed and final work of editing begins. Word by word and line by line, I put myself in the reader’s place. Editors before me have cared for any structure or pacing issues—especially in novels—for example, but my job is to try to ensure that no reader is unnecessarily stopped cold—or even slowed down—by error or squishy-ness. Plausibility issues, word choices not quite on target, repetition, and so on are all on the table on behalf of readers.  

4.       I champion the author. I know every page—sometimes every word—an author crafts is hard-won. Writing is a joy, but it is also hard work. Though I am forthright about what I think, in my expertise and opinion, needs to be addressed, my goal is to help the author make the book the best it can be, supporting his or her career. I am always aware the book is not mine, but I am also aware it is my responsibility as an editor to treat it as carefully and thoroughly as if it were.  

Editing is a wonderful profession; we editors care about editorial excellence. But I hope authors understand above all else that most editors—even the ones examining every word and line—care about them, their work, and their readers just as much as they care about the nitty-gritty of language and writing technique. 

After twenty-four years with publishing house Zondervan in Grand Rapids, Michigan, most recently as an executive managing editor, Jean Bloom returned to Central Indiana to be near family and take her freelance editorial business full-time (Bloom in Words Editorial Services). Her personal blog is Bloom in Words too, where she often posts articles about the writing life. She and her husband, Cal, have three children and five grandchildren.


Monday, July 6, 2015

ACFW June Luncheon with Linda Glaz and Gail Gaymer Martin

We had a fantastic time at the luncheon in Fort Wayne on June 20! If you weren't there, maybe this little re-cap will give you a good peek into what we experienced. 

Our first speaker of the day was Linda Glaz, literary agent with Hartline Literary Agency (and my agent and Rick Barry's agent as well). Linda spoke on "Everything You Wanted to Know About Writing but Were Afraid to Ask." Some of the highlights of her talk included anecdotes of her experiences both as a writer and an agent. Especially insightful was the information she shared regarding POV (point of view), especially writing from a male point of view. 

"People want character-driven books with constant motivation. Every single thing that happens to a character must have a motivation." She also stressed the difference between "preachiness" in books or having an agenda. Our books should influence in subtle ways just as Jesus's parables did. 

Linda also reminded us that readers today want "instant gratification and they want it by page one. Page one has to catch the reader." Also, the characters need powerful opposition and they must have two paths to choose from. Readers need to wonder which one they will choose. 

Gail Gaymer Martin delighted us with her presentation on "The Sagging Middle." Here are some of the tips she shared about elements of a great story:
  • When one conflict is solved, a greater one arises and tension builds
  • Characters placed in impossible situations
  • Characters forced to do something they'd never do
  • Secrets
  • Subplots
  • Red herrings

My favorite tip was "twisting the premise." Examples of this are situations such as a bad first date instead of a great first date, rain instead of sunshine and "no" instead of "yes." Good examples of twisted premises are the movies Under the Tuscan Sun, No Country for Old Men, Sixth Sense and The Village.

Other movies with great premise twists are Rosemary's Baby (instead of a happy pregnancy resulting in a happy human baby...), The Secret Window (Johnny Depp), and Shutter Island (DiCaprio).

The more I learn about writing fiction, the more I realize how clever and brilliant good writers must be. It's harder than ever to captivate an audience, and we'll only learn to do so by continuing to study the craft. Another thing I'm impressed with among Christian writers, is how generously information is shared. This is because our writing, as Christians, carries with it the precious responsibility of bringing hope to as many as possible before the soon and coming return of King Jesus. Being a member of ACFW helps us to keep our calling sure and our craft fresh.

I'm truly grateful to have been a part of the meeting June 20. I learned a lot and was reminded of things I'd forgotten. The only thing that would have made it better was to have all of YOU there with us! 

Until next time -- write on! Jesus is coming soon!

Karla Akins is the author of The Pastor's Wife Wears Biker Boots and countless short stories, biographies and other books for middle grades. She currently serves as Vice-President of ACFW-Indiana Chapter and resides in North Manchester with her pastor-husband, twin adult sons with autism and her mother-in-law with Alzheimer's. Her three dogs and two cats serve as attentive editors.