Apple recently released iBooks Author, a free application available for Mac users. (I have a Macbook, so I needed to update my operating system to use the app.) If you have KeyNote, you’ll recognize some of the features in the toolbar such as Inspector, Media, Colors, and Fonts. There’s a wonderful integration of Mac programs here with the ability to drag and drop Word documents, iMovie videos, and KeyNote presentations from your desktop into a project. Picture galleries as well as 3D renderings can be included. Teachers will love the feature that allows you to create multiple choice questions for students to answer.
Not being able to upload PDFs into the program, however, is a major drawback. If you try to do so, you’ll only be able to see the first page of a multi-page PDF file. The only way I could get PDFs into iBooks Author was to create a new Word document and add a PDF as an image, but only ONE page at a time. Needless to say, this is time-consuming and probably not worth your time for something such as a 20-page file.
I’m guessing the omission of PDFs as part of the compatible software is very much on purpose. Every flick of your finger opens a Pandora’s box worth of copyright issues. Anyone with extra time on their hands could scan pages from books, place them in an iBook, and distribute them, which seriously violates copyright laws. Lifting pictures from the Internet and placing them into iBooks Author is quite simple, but again that violates copyright. You Tube videos can be downloaded and saved using a site called SaveVid, and uploading those videos that aren’t your creations violates copyright.
If iBooks with copyright violations enter the market yet are offered for free to only a teacher’s group of 150 students, will copyright holders even have access to track down these violations? Even copyright holders could have access to track down copied work, do they care enough to dedicate countless staff to finding material and prosecuting pirates? Perhaps copyright holders would go after the serious violators who are trying to profit from the distribution of these pirated materials.
If you want to avoid any legal issues, write your own material and take take your own pictures and video. Have kids create videos and give them credit for work they do in your book, but have students and their parents sign copyright and media release forms. If you want to use pictures, video, and other content from the Web, you can always attempt to contact the copyright holder and request permission to use their material in your publication. For more information on copyright laws, check out Fair Use, Copyright for Teachers and School Librarians, and A Fair(y) Use Tale.