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Division of Program Support
NHEON > Office of Educational Technology > TECH PLAN GUIDE START

VI. POLICY & PROCEDURE:   A. Children's Internet Protection Act      B. Copyright & Fair Use     C. Acceptable Use Policy Kit

Acceptable Use Policy Kit

1. Why create an AUP
2. What to include in an AUP
3. Use of Facilities
4. Responsible Personnel

5. Network Access
6. Disciplinary Actions
7. Limitation of Liability
8. Bibliography

Network Access

SAMPLE WORDING: Users of the XYZNet are those students and employees of the XYZ district with a signed User Agreement on file. Users of the XYZ District will be allowed access to the XYZNet during class time as well as during other periods designated as "open access". Users of the XYZNet are prohibited from sending or receiving the following types of material on the Network:

  • Any materials which are profane or obscene (pornography, advocates or condones unlawful or dangerous acts, advocates or condones violence or discrimination towards other people (hate literature);
  • Material without an educational purpose such as for the purposes of entertainment;
  • Personal information on students. See FERPA below.

The XYZ School District is in receipt of federal education funding and has installed Internet filters on the XYZNet. Students and staff should self-monitor to determine appropriateness of material and activities. It is not our intent to curtail any academic freedom to use appropriate materials for educational purposes; however, all staff should be confident in evaluating material accessed on the Internet for use in the classroom. Staff will monitor students for inappropriate use of the Network. Special authorization may be obtained from the School Building Technology Coordinator to allow exceptions to prohibited material in cases of legitimate research. All staff and students will comply with copyright and licensing agreements. Any distance learning courseware developed by the XYZ District is owned by the District. Students needing access for class projects have highest priority for access to the Network. Students should immediately notify supervising staff if they mistakenly access prohibited material. The XYZ District cannot monitor in accord with a multitude of different family values; therefore parents are encouraged to discuss values with their children. Parents are responsible for monitoring any dial-up access provided by XYZ District.

All users have the right to privacy in their e-mail. However, if a user is believed to be in violation of the guidelines stated in this policy, a system administrator or teacher may need to gain access to private correspondence or files. An attempt will be made to notify the user of such inspections whenever possible. E-mail messages are subject to district review at any time.

District web pages will comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) (1994). See Hyperlinking web pages must be made with caution, as any hyperlinked sites will be subjected to the same scrutiny as all other material posted on any district web pages.

Academic Freedom: The wealth of material available to students on the Internet has a profound impact on the issue of academic freedom. The case of Keyishian v Board of Regents, 385 US 589,603 (1967) addresses the issue of safeguarding this freedom:

"Our nation is deeply committed to safeguarding academic freedom, which is of transcendent value to all of us and not merely the teachers concerned. That freedom is therefore a special concern of the First Amendment, which does not allow laws that cast a pall of orthodoxy over the classroom. The classroom is particularly a ‘marketplace of ideas.’ The Nation’s future depends upon leaders trained through wide exposure to that robust exchange of ideas which discovers truth out of a multitude of tongues, [rather] that through any kind of authoritative selection."

The NH Department of Education recommends providing professional development for teachers that will enable them to effectively use this new environment. Teachers should feel confident when selecting materials appropriate for their students as well as providing students with guidelines when evaluating material on the Internet.

Americans with Disabilities Act: If frames are unavoidable, a non-frames alternative must be provided as the first option. State government information must be accessible and frames are not viewable by older browsers, speech synthesizers, or Braille readers. Another resource to use for this purpose is a “Bobby,” a web-based tool that analyzes web pages for their accessibility to people with disabilities. This tool, offered by the Center for Applied Special Technology (CAST) at, is provided as a free public service in order to further its mission to expand opportunities for people with disabilities through the innovative uses of computer technology.

Copyright: The Digital Millennium Copyright Act enacted in 1998 by the US Congress as P.L. 105-304, 112 Stat.2860 (Oct.28, 1998) adopted the World Intellectual Property Organization’s Copyright Treaty and Performances and Phonogram Treaty. It also adopts implementing provisions including those intended to protect copyright holders against manufacture of devices to be used for and the actual circumvention of technological measures the holders have put in place to control access to their works. Included in this legislation is the right to make a copy of an authorized copy of a program in order to maintain or repair a computer. Libraries may make up to three copies of a work for the purposes of preservation or interlibrary loan as long as that copy is not made available outside of the premises.

If the work is clearly in the public domain (the copyright has expired, the work has been produced by a government agency, or the work has been clearly placed in the public domain by the creator) teachers and students my freely reproduce and distribute multiple copies of the work or place it on the school web site.

  • Works registered before 1/1/1978, become public domain 75 years after registration, thus works created in 1903 or earlier are in the public domain in the United States, and most of the world.
  • Works by American authors with copyrights registered from 1904 to 1922 are in the public domain in the United States only.
  • Works created after 1/1/1978 will become public domain after 1/1/2048.

If the work is protected by copyright or if it is unclear whether or not the work is protected by copyright, students, and teachers can copy and distribute the work under the following conditions:

  • If the use qualifies as "fair use." If the material is the kind of resource material teachers or students would generally use for instruction or writing research papers, such as articles and reports, it is appropriate to make one personal copy for research purposes. To make multiple copies, the "fair use" standard for making multiple copies of printed materials would apply.
  • If the teacher or student has permission from the owner of the copyright. This permission may be written on the material itself.
  • Materials may be made available to students on homepages under conditions similar to classroom guidelines. Restrict availability with password protection and limit by time.

The most controversial issue regarding copyright involves posting material to a web page. Although no cases involving schools have come to light, in the case of Marobie-FL, Inc. d/b/a Galactic Software v. National Association of Fire Equipment Distributors and Northwest Nexus, Inc. 983 F. Supp 1167 (N.N. Ill., Nov. 13, 1997). NAFED was found guilty of copyright infringement for uploading copyrighted clip art onto computers hosting NAFED’s web site.

In the case of student papers, credit should be given to cited sources.

There have been what are called "Coursepack Cases." These involve making copies of parts of copyrighted materials and binding them together for use in the classroom and selling that as a product for student use. These were held to be copyright infringement. See: Basic Books v. Kinko’s, 758 F. Supp. 1522 (S.D.N.Y. 1991) and Princeton University Press v. MDS, 99 F. 3d 1381 (6th Cir. 1996).

Distance Learning: Distance learning presents some interesting questions for traditional copyright law. Under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act the US Copyright Office is required to consult with copyright owners, educational institutions, and libraries as to methods to promote distance learning through digital technologies while maintaining an "appropriate balance between the rights of copyright owners and the interest of users."

E-mail: A district might be liable of negligence if through Internet access a student becomes involved in a life-threatening activity such as becoming involved with an online stalker. However, if the district advises students of such a potential danger through the use of an AUP, then the district probably has exercised reasonable precaution.

Family Educational Rights of Privacy Act (FERPA): Information on student Internet activity that may be traced to a particular student may constitute "personally identifiable information" about a student. Parents of minor students are entitled to access this information. Placement of personally identifiable information on the web site concerning a student raises significant FERPA issues.

NH RSA 189:1-e Directory Information is the NH state law that enhances the effect of FERPA:

A local education agency which maintains education records may provide information designated as directory information consistent with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). Each year schools shall give parents public notice of the types of information designated as directory information. By a specified time after parents are notified of their review rights, parents shall request in writing to remove all or part of the information on their child that they do not wish to be available to the public. Such approval shall be renewed on an annual basis. Items of directory information, which is information not generally considered harmful or an invasion of privacy if disclosed, may include:

      1. Name and address of a student
      2. Field of Study
      3. Weight and height of athletes
      4. Most recent previous school attended
      5. Date and place of birth
      6. Participation in officially recognized activities and sports
      7. Dates of attendance, degrees, and awards.

Filtering: This is an extremely controversial issue, with a great deal of information both pro and con available on the Internet. The new educational technology legislation included within the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) mandates filtering for schools receiving federal funds. CIPA compliance is also required for schools to be eligible for E-Rate Discounts. For more information on this issue, we recommend you review the following web site:

Hyperlinking: All information that is posted on a web site should be reviewed regularly, dated, evaluated for continued accuracy and relevancy, and removed as soon as the information becomes stale, irrelevant or inaccurate. Information posted on a web site is usually considered current. Also be wary of any hyperlinks placed on a web site. In the business arena, for example, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has indicated that if a company provides a hyperlink from the company’s web site to a third party’s web site, the company may be viewed as having adopted the information on the third-party site.

Licensing: All school districts should comply with all software licensing agreements. These agreements vary with the products purchased. Do not allow staff or students to place copies of software on computers or the Network without first checking the licensing agreement accompanying the software. 

Privacy Issues: Responsible system administrators monitor activity on their system, occasionally for the purpose of reporting the manner in which a system is being used. Through this process it is possible to encounter inappropriate activities by staff or students. Although it might seem prudent to state that the district has access to all personal files, this is inconsistent with our teaching students to be careful of posting personal information. The standard case cited is New Jersey v. T.L.O., 469 US 325 (1985). This case led to the following standards to use:

Was the search "justified in its inception"? A search is justified when there are "reasonable grounds for suspecting that the search would turn up evidence that the student has violated or is violating either the law or rules of the school."

Was the search "reasonably related in scope to the circumstances which justified the interference in the first place?" A search is reasonable when "the measures adopted are reasonably related to the objectives of the search and not excessively intrusive in light of the age and sex of the student and the nature of the infraction."

It would be prudent to include a clause which makes students and employees aware that personal files and email may result in investigation through:

  • Routine system maintenance
  • General inspection or monitoring, with or without notice, if there is reasonable suspicion of widespread inappropriate use
  • Specific review of individual files or monitoring of individual activity, with or without notice, if there is an individualized reasonable suspicion of inappropriate use.
  • Also notify students that general monitoring of web research is an ongoing activity. There should also be district standards regarding who has the right to authorize access or monitoring. [See personnel.] A district may have no expectation of privacy as a consequence of violation of the AUP.

District employees do have constitutionally protected privacy interest in the work environment as a result of O’Connor v. Ortega, 480 US 709 (1987). The TLO standards may be applied to employee privacy for non-investigatory, work-related purposes, as well as for investigations of work-related misconduct. There is also the reasonable expectation that unless there is a public records request, the district will respect the privacy of an employee’s email. Access of an employee’s email is a serious invasion of privacy that should only be undertaken in accord with a strict procedure that requires high level authorization and written notice setting forth the justification for such access and the results. The prohibition against accessing stored communications does not apply with respect to conduct authorized "by the person or entity providing a wire or electronic communications service." This defense was upheld by the United States District Court in Nevada. Bohach v. City of Reno, et al, 932 F. Supp. 1232 (1996). 

In Smyth v. The Pillsbury Company, 914 F. Supp. 97, E.D. Penn. (1996), the court found that an employee who transmitted inappropriate and unprofessional messages over the company’s e-mail system could not have had a reasonable expectation of privacy. Once an employee disseminated the communication, the message was no longer private. In the case of Strauss v. Microsoft Corp., 1995 US Dist. Lexis 7433 (1995) it was found that off-color comments made through email were admissible in a sex discrimination case.

Web access: Obtaining individual accounts for all students is probably not feasible. Generally a group account is established for elementary classrooms with the teacher able to monitor use. At the secondary level it may be appropriate to issue students their own password and personal account. Having parents sign an agreement reinforces the importance of following the AUP and may assist in limiting district liability. It is unnecessary to have employees sign any such agreement. Employees are bound by all district policies in their personal use of the network and may be held personally responsible for a student’s misuse if they do sign any such agreement. The NH Department of Education does not recommend dial-up access for students from home to the district system and out to the Internet, as this could potentially overload district resources.


Last update: 10/9/04