Teachers: @TesResources has a problem and they want you to work harder to deal with it

TES Resources has a problem. Its resource sharing platform is riddled with copyright infringements. What are they going to do about it? Well, they are going to ask you to add to the already burgeoning workload of hardworking teachers and get you to police it. As if you don’t already have enough to do.

TES Resources is a great platform. It allows teachers to share resources freely with hundreds of colleagues up and down the country. It truly exemplifies the collegial spirit of teaching. Well, it did.

It did until July 2014, when they announced that teachers would be able to start selling the resources they were already sharing for free. They sold this move as ‘teacher empowerment’. Weirdly, this announcement didn’t mention the cut that they were taking from these transactions.

Now, I have been very outspoken about the selling of resources on social media in recent times, but this post isn’t about my moral objections to teachers selling resources to one another.

This week, it was brought to my attention that a resource that I shared freely on this blog had actually been copied and was being sold on TES Resources for £3 a pop. It had been on the website for nearly 2 years and had received a number of downloads.

I should point out that the aim of this post isn’t to vilify the individuals concerned in this practice. Not because the practice isn’t reprehensible, but rather that, in the spirit of charity, I am happy to concede that some people may do this in complete ignorance that they have taken this idea from someone or that there is a victim of their actions. People make mistakes, and if they show contrition for those mistakes, I’m happy to move on.

In the case of my resource, TES were straight on the case once I’d brought it to their attention and are investigating as we speak. In the first instance they have taken down the resource. I wait with interest to see if there is any attempt to remunerate the injured party. After all, someone has made money from something I chose to give freely. (Should such remuneration arrive, I have earmarked my local paediatric oncology ward to receive the funds – it is a charity that is very close to my tutor group and me, for reasons which I shan’t go into here.)

However, like the mythological hydra, as soon as TES had sliced off this head, another one grew back in its place. It was brought to my attention the next evening that another of my resources that I’ve shared freely was on sale for £4 on the site.

And I am not the only one, large numbers of people have offered me evidence that the TES platform is riddled with people selling others’ resources.

Here are a few examples that came shortly after I made a request on Twitter last night. Important to note that these are just the ones who were up, saw my tweet and responded. I’m sure this is just the tip of the iceberg:

Not only that, as the last tweet suggests, this practice is driving people away from using the platform to share resources freely:

This might suggest that more sold resources on TES = fewer free ones.

And there are plenty more responses where all these came from. I’m sure you get the picture.

So what are TES Resources going to do about it. Actually, it’s more what they expect you to do about it. They want you – hardworking teachers, already overburdened with a burgeoning workload – they want you to police the site for them.

That’s right. Rather than come up with a way to police this themselves, they are asking us to identify stolen content. Imagine if the police said they wouldn’t deal with antisocial behaviour in your neighbourhood unless you went out and brought the assailants into the police station yourself?

Quite how they want busy teachers to do this is beyond me. Do they want us to do a regular search weekly? Monthly? And what should we search for? I produce lots of resources every month – are we supposed to search for everything we’ve ever produced and shared? Do they not get that we are very busy? Have they not read the pages of their own publication, drowning in articles on workload? Why do they think people use the site for resources in the first place? To save time. Now they want to us to use that time to work for them in managing their site, for free.

Nope. This is on you, TES. You can’t pass this off onto already overworked teachers.

Was this a problem before TES introduced selling? Well, yes, I’m sure people uploaded resources that weren’t their own. But the difference is they weren’t profiting. I share my resources freely, so someone else uploading it means that it will still be shared freely. Okay, so the lack of credit may irk, but that can be easily addressed.

What would I do if I were the TES? I’d embrace the collegial nature of the profession and of sharing freely and leave the cynical hawking of resources to other sites. But whatever they do, the responsibility is theirs to kill off this heinous practice on their site. Over to you, TES.


12 thoughts on “Teachers: @TesResources has a problem and they want you to work harder to deal with it”

  1. I’ve never used TES resources, and I too have blogged about the issues with paid content. The interesting thing to me right now is that they have indeed profited; from a business POV the more sales the better.

    I’m not legally trained. But if they’ve made money from plagiarised resources sold on the site, you could argue that it’s morally equivalent to handling stolen goods. The least they could do would be to pay you (for a donation, which in passing I’d like to say is a great idea) what *they* made as commission, while pursuing the thief.

      1. It wouldn’t take long to create a GoogleForm for people to use; paste in link to the contested resource, number of downloads, money the plagiarist owes, and a link to the evidence of originality eg blog post. Make the spreadsheet public and TES Resources – plus anyone else interested – can see just how bad the problem is. If they wanted to fix this, it wouldn’t be difficult to automate the reporting themselves. Shall we do it for them?

    1. Hi Magda. Thanks for replying. I read your blog, but I feel very strongly that just expecting teachers to stumble upon these resources and report them is not enough. I suspect that this policy will mean that the majority of instances will go unreported. Indeed. My resources was online for 2 years before it was brought to my attention. It is simply not good enough to expect teachers to manage this site whilst you make sit back and profit from it. We are busy enough as it is without worrying about whether our resources have been taken and having the expectation that we have to constantly search for them to protect ourselves. This is your site and it is your job to protect us: a proactive policy is needed to replace your current reactive one, which places the burden on teaches and absolves you of any responsibility.

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