In an internet dominated world, where everyone is a publisher and free speech is king-Do you really know who owns your ideas?

It’s a question that has dominated my thinking, upset me, infuriated me, frustrated me and just made me plain mad.

If they’re my ideas, my created content, my hard work then surely they belong to me.


What sparked this blog post was something that happened to some resources that I put on the TES (Times Educational Supplement) website. I saw this tweet from the very well known US educator Vicki Davis (@Coolcatteacher)

image Knowing that I have created a big piece of work (How to make a simple amazing ebook) that sounded exactly like the tweet I clicked the link.It sent me here-


Sharemylesson is basically the TES US sister site. Indeed it was my resource, my hard work, my ideas and it was EXACTLY the same as the resource I posted on the UK TES site.

What made me angry and upset was that nobody from the ‘ELA Team’ had sought my permission to use my resource as if it was their own.I nearly cried at this bit ‘Adapted from a resource contributed by TES Connect by Ideas Factory’   especially when I downloaded the resource (I could sign in with my TES Connect log in) and found that they had changed NOTHING. They were even stupid enough to keep my last slide mentioning my name and my website!

Just to clarify here’s the dictionary definition for the word



changed in order to improve or made more fit for a particular purpose; “seeds precisely adapted to the area”; “instructions altered to suit the children’s different ages”

At this point my blood was beginning to boil-The ‘ELA team’ had changed nothing they had simply stolen my resource and were passing it off as their own. I fired off a few messages to the TES and sharemylesson twitter accounts and to be fair the TES tweeps were very accommodating. Slowly though it was dawning on me that I didn’t have a leg to stand on (it must have been the TES DM about emailing their solicitors..EDIT-Since found out it was their Director of Resources Ann Mroz- appologies for mistake).  I then googled the TES Connect Terms and conditions and to my horror but not surprise I found this-

“Rights in posted content

With respect to all Content you post on the Websites, you grant TSL Education a royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable, non-exclusive and fully sub-licensable right and licence to use, reproduce, modify, adapt, publish, translate, create derivative works from, distribute, perform and display such Content (in whole or part) worldwide and/or to incorporate it in other works in any form, media, or technology now known or later developed. With respect to all Content you post to the Websites, you hereby waive any moral rights you have in the Content. You agree to perform all further acts necessary to perfect any of the above rights granted by you to TSL Education, including the execution of deeds and documents, at our request.”

OMG!Any work that is shared on the TES website by hard working, thoughtful and collaborating teachers basically belongs to TES. They can do what they want with it, by sharing resources on their website you “waive any moral rights you have in the Content”. They own your ideas, your created content and your hard work.

Is this wrong-certainly from a legal point of view it isn’t. TES is a business, a commercial entity that wants to make money and I completely understand why they have the terms and conditions.

Do TES contributors get paid for their resources? Is the message of ‘sharing’ and ‘collaborating’ with the ‘largest collection of teachers in the world’ one that fits with  “waive any moral rights you have in the Content”.

So I have deleted all my resources-they are all available here on my website. I write this because I learn from my mistakes, I urge everyone reading this to learn from my mistakes as well. Look carefully at the Terms and conditions of any website where you have shared your ideas. If you are not happy, do not upload anything to them, find an alternative, fairer site.

Interestingly Twitter are in the middle of a court battle about supporting the right of the individual to own their tweets. Twitter says that its users own their tweets, and all that personal information. Read here for more about this fascinating case.

At least there’s one internet company that understand that your ideas are your own!

Written by Julian S Wood -"rel="author"
  • mikemcsharry

    Ha – so that’s where Pinterest got their ideas for copyright (or lack of it).
    The line they are missing is ‘When we’ve seen you roast in hell for a few days then we may let youhave your stuff back’
    The only resource TES has from me is a video – which includes my dulcet tones which they’d never undestanf south of Milton Keynes anyway.

    • Julian S Wood

      Thanks for the comment Mike-looks like I’ve stirred up a bit of a hornets nest!

  • @IrritableTech

    It was terms and conditions exactly like this why music artists stopped uploading music to MySpace. Myspace granted themselves full rights and it took a protest from numerous artists including Billy Bragg to have the terms changed.
    It really is best to keep your resources on your own site, and link to them as you do now. I try to do this with everything I produce, even down to quick twitter snaps. Thanks for the blog.

  • TeacherToolkit

    Julian, I have only just discovered this post after publishing this today:

    Ross – @TeacherToolkit

    • Julian S Wood

      Thanks for the comment Ross.

      Sorry to hear that you have suffered the same as me at the hands of TES.

      Hopefully with the publicising your post more people will have their eyes opened up to those ‘Sweat-shop’ Terms and Conditions.

    • Julian S Wood

      Thanks Ross for the comment

      Read your post with interest and hope that the message gets through to those unaware of the terrible Terms and Conditions of the TES website.

      Here’s hoping!

  • Pingback: #Vamoose! I’m off… | @ TeacherToolkit()

  • Conrad Harrison

    As far as I am aware, whilst copyright protects intellectual property, it does not protect ideas. So an idea can be presented in a multitude of different ways in various media, and each would have its own copyright issues. So didn’t loose the idea, but I get your point. Why would you want to put the time and effort into presenting the idea in a different form? It seems that TES connect is like a publisher, and in similar manner authors relinquish their copyright to the publisher to get publication and distribution. The statement on share my lesson: “most popular resources by this author statement” should more preferably make reference to publisher not author. Authors whether in print or on the Internet do need to be aware of the rights they hand over to potential publishers.

    I don’t like sites which copy content, I think its far better to link to original sources. Early last year on LinkedIn I posted a link to an article, and then someone asked me to give credit to them because they were the author and gave permission to the site I linked to, and suggested I could phone up the website manager to check. My response was for the purported author to tell the website manager to give proper credit to the source of the article, rather than tell other people to link to and credit some other site.

    The same goes here you want people to visit your site, not read your articles somewhere else. Its different than paper publications where have little choice but to reprint articles with permission from some other source. On the net can link direct to origin.

    • Julian S Wood

      A very good point Conrad and thanks for the comment.

      To lose both copyright and IP is harsh.

      But as I wrote in my post I completely understand reasons behind but wanted educators to go ‘eyes-wide-open’.

      Yes I love Creative Commons attribution-all my stuff here is-one brilliant way to share with link to original.

      Thanks again

  • Pingback: #Vamoose! I’m off… to a meeting with TES Resources | @ TeacherToolkit()

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UK Primary School Future Learning Technologist.I am into Experience and Fun Based Learning.I use web tools to stimulate writing. I've been Playing and Learning since 1970. Have some fabulous ideas now & again.. Check out my profile!
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