Thursday, August 29, 2013

The Right Way to Share Ambleside Online

For those who don't know, AO has always been copyrighted, even before we were AO. We've had a licensing agreement on our site since Oct 2002.

We've been lax about enforcement because we don't like to be bad guys, and we hoped the licensing agreement on the site would speak for itself so we didn't have to. However, an increasing number of people seem to have interpreted "free for using" as free for taking, reposting, and sometimes reselling (either directly, or by copying and pasting from our site, but stripping out our affiliate links and replacing them with their own), or copying and pasting our work to their websites, and then, ironically, copyrighting those pages to themselves, even though they just violated our copyright.

We don't really like confrontations of this nature, so even when we have encountered blatant copyright violations, we've hardly ever asked people to take them down. The few times we have asked, we've been told, "But look here, here, and here, they are in violation of your copyrights and you seem to have let them go . . ." So our generosity has been misunderstood and taken for license.

Related to this, links are not the largest issue, but please do consider that when you copy and paste from our website to yours, replacing our affiliate links on our booklists with your own, that you are hindering AO's ability to pay for itself - and the Advisory ourselves did not even add affiliate links until about 2 years ago, paying for everything for the first dozen years or so out of our own pockets. What we have always envisioned is that our work is like a CM potluck - we prepared the main dishes, set up the location and hosted a giant picnic, inviting the community to join us, free of charge, and to pitch in as they are able, adding to the collective effort. We hate to sound whiny, but it is frustrating, and even hurtful, to see others copyrighting our work, or attempting to profit from it, when we have sacrificed so much to create it.

It's becoming a problem, and we really need to Mom up and face our reluctance to confront people about violations of our licensing agreement. We need to be forthright about protecting our work, but we'd still prefer to do this as gently as possible. So we're asking you to please take a look at your own blogs and websites and see - did you copy and paste from material on our site that is *not* in the pubic domain? PR magazine articles are in the public domain, as are the original CM volumes. However, the CM volumes you see on our website have been edited, footnoted, and annotated by us, and our words and work are not in the public domain.

Some websites have copied and pasted so much of our material that people are confusing those websites for AO.

It's creating quite a few headaches for us, and almost nobody out there who has copied and pasted from our material has asked us for permission, and many seem not to even be aware there has always been a licensing agreement - the first versions were sent to our email list in 1999, 2000 and 2001, and appeared on the website at least as early as 2002.

We love for you to talk about the curriculum, to link to it, and to explain to your readers how you've made it your own - but that does not require copying and pasting huge chunks of our work. Fair use generally allows about 300 words to be reproduced for the purpose of review. Could you please review your public writings outside the AO forum and if you've violated our Terms of Service, please, please take those down without waiting for us to ask? The right way to share AO is to link to our website, not to re-post AO's booklists, schedules and materials elsewhere. Thank you so much!


  1. Very tactfully done. Great job ladies...our family appreciates all you have done and continue to do so much.

  2. It is true, however, that there are resources online that make AO more accessible. They do not take away from the incredible amount of time and effort that the advisory has poured forth. Rather, they enhance it. However you have worked to do so, the curriculum as written has proven challenging to implement and many have benefitted from both your tremendous work and the narrative explanations of how others have made use of it. I am so thankful to both the AO advisory and the other homeschooling women who have made it possible for me to bring CM methods and philosophy into my every day practice.

  3. Hi, Amy,
    We have never told anybody they cannot share their own resources or talk about how they make the curriculum work for them. We have only asked that they not copy and paste our work to other places (and especially not to resell it or put their own copyright notices on our work).