In most cases, the person who creates the work is considered its author and owns the copyright. But, unless you have an agreement with your district to the contrary, materials you create in the course of your job belong to your employer. When an employer special-orders or commissions supplementary work (an instructional text, test or answer material for a test), it is considered “work for hire” and belongs to your employer.
But the work need not have been specifically ordered by the employer to be considered the employer’s property. A number of factors will determine whether a work was created within the scope of employment and therefore belongs to the employer, such as:
Was the work created during the regular workday?
Was the work created to aid the educator in the educator’s performance of his work for the employer?
Was there any specific agreement between educator and employer about the copyright?
Was the work created using the employer’s resources or equipment?
Lesson plans and other instructional materials
Certain materials that teachers routinely create, including lesson plans, classroom materials and tests, are traditionally treated as jointly owned by the teacher and the school district. Because there is little potential for commercial exploitation of these materials, districts generally don’t care and don’t ask teachers if they use materials in one district that they created while working in another. However, districts typically retain sole ownership of materials such as large curriculum documents.
In-services and other special materials
Distance learning courses, as well as professional development courses and workshops, have a greater market value to districts and the teachers who create them than do traditional classroom materials. Your district might be able to argue that materials you’ve created for such workshops were produced in the scope of your job duties so it can therefore claim ownership. The questions above might be helpful in determining whether the district or educator owns the material.