More About AmblesideOnline's Copyright

AmblesideOnline Copyright Statement

AmblesideOnline began as a labor of love by homeschool moms who believe whole-heartedly in Charlotte Mason's educational philosophies. Our labor of love grew into a serious curriculum rather quickly, and back when our users could still be numbered in the hundreds, the question of commercializing the curriculum was raised. We decided emphatically that it would remain a free curriculum, and over the years, it has grown to be a complete 12-year program with many extras, the collective labors of literally dozens of willing volunteers who shared our vision. No one has ever been financially compensated for contributing to AO, although the thanks of the Advisory and many thousands of users goes out to them all. The expense of maintaining the AmblesideOnline website, purchasing domain names, and so forth, was maintained willingly by Advisory members for over ten years before Amazon affiliate links were added to the website, which income now covers the costs of operating AO and has allowed AO to expand in several ways.

As AO grew we began to receive proposals from people who wanted to create AO-approved products for music, art, and other things, for which they intended to charge money. We had to make a policy early, and we have applied this policy uniformly to all such requests:

The materials on the AO website are copyrighted in their content, format, and compilation to the AmblesideOnline Educational Foundation, and legally can only be posted at the AmblesideOnline website or in a publication produced by the Advisory. While we are fully supportive of individual efforts to provide a service to homeschoolers, it remains that if the AO Advisory ever allows use of AmblesideOnline materials on other websites or products, we put AOEF at legal risk of forfeiting the right to protect our work -- and to protest effectively -- when others violate our License Agreement and our copyright. As such--

  1. No one may put AmblesideOnline in the name of their product or service.
  2. No one may use the AmblesideOnline name to advertise or promote their product or service.
  3. No one may copy and publish the curriculum (or parts of the curriculum) elsewhere.
  4. No one may use the AO Forum or AO Facebook group to advertise their product or service for sale.

We have consistently refused all requests to do these things, not because we bear ill-will to anyone, but because we chose to make AmblesideOnline free; no one else has a right to make a profit by using our name, and we do not want AO users to become a targeted market. Many interesting projects have been proposed to us, and our refusals are not a reflection of the worthiness of any project, but rather we have followed these policies for the sake of AO's integrity and the protection of our members.

Because we offer AmblesideOnline for free use, some have presumed to treat our curriculum as public domain. It is not. It is protected by copyright under the law, just the same as any other curriculum materials. In recent years, as AO has acquired thousands of users, we have encountered even more copyright infringement, and to our dismay, many of those infringing or would-be infringers have objected to our policies. That does not change the fact that AO is a copyrighted work and not free to re-post. We appreciate the enthusiasm of our users, but we ask that they police themselves, and consider carefully before reposting our content elsewhere.

To those who argue that one cannot copyright a "booklist," although AO is much more than a booklist, we suggest a little research at The booklist portion of AO is a "compilation" or "collective" work.

From the website: "Compilations of data or compilations of preexisting works (also known as 'collective works') may also be copyrightable if the materials are selected, coordinated, or arranged in such a way that the resulting work as a whole constitutes a new work. When the collecting of the preexisting material that makes up the compilation is a purely mechanical task with no element of original selection, coordination, or arrangement, such as a white-pages telephone directory, copyright protection for the compilation is not available."

AmblesideOnline was created with an "element of original selection," and no one else could create the same list by mechanical or objective means, as you would create a list of Newbery Winners, or Books Published in 1978. As such, it is entitled to copyright protection.

The AO Advisory, and the AO Auxiliary who have joined us to keep AO alive and improving are just as committed to our original vision as we always have been. AmblesideOnline has been assembled from hours and hours of work by volunteers as a 21st century curriculum that attempts to recreate the depth and richness of the original curriculum Charlotte Mason wrote for the PNEU. It will remain free, and we will continue to adhere to the policies we have chosen to protect both the curriculum and the homeschooling families who use it. We encourage a spirit of collaboration and have seen members collect links, compile art prints, list YouTube versions of music, post helps, and create online resources for the free use of their fellow homeschoolers. As such, we cannot allow our copyrighted booklists, schedules, and other pages to be used for the financial profit of others.

The Advisory provides the AmblesideOnline curriculum and all the helpful ancillary resources as a free service. However, although the curriculum is free, it is still copyrighted. Any republishing of the content, either on paper or electronically (such as on a blog or website), requires written Advisory permission. This material represents many long hours of Advisory toil, and we appreciate the respect you show by linking to our website rather than republishing its contents (other than short attributed quotes) elsewhere.

We might allow a compiler to sell a hard copy of public domain material that correlates to AO's schedules if that public domain content was also placed online for the free use of our members on a no-strings basis (you may not collect email addresses of those using your free material). We feel that would be beneficial to everyone, making it possible for anyone to access what they need to educate their children, while offering a financial incentive for anyone who wishes to provide a service for those who want the convenience of such a resource without going online for it.

User-Created Resources and Helps

The only authorized and current version of the AmblesideOnline curriculum is that which is posted on our website at Various helps, schedules, print-outs, and booklets that users create and share freely on our support groups cannot be guaranteed to have any updates that the Advisory makes to the curriculum, and can never replace what is posted on our website.

If you are a creator of these helps, we ask that you provide them freely from our support group(s), and in such a way that users are directed to our website. User-created helps can be so comprehensive that other users sometimes rely on them rather than visiting the AO website, and then they miss important footnotes about books, explanations about how to use resources, and any updates made to the curriculum. As well, we have found that providing too much support and supplemental material prevents parents/teachers from grasping the understanding they need to implement this kind of education. In our experience, there is much to be gained from collecting the resources, reading the footnotes, pencilling together a schedule, working to wrap one's head around how this all works. Making it all too easy is sadly not always the best way to encourage others to grow and learn; there are no shortcuts to the learning process.

How to Share Resources Without Violating AO's Copyright.

If you have schedules, charts, or other documents you have created that you think other AO members would benefit from, you may post them to the files on our Facebook group or Forum with this disclaimer added to the document you're posting:

"Formatted by [ your name ] using copyrighted material from Posted with permission, for personal use only. Do NOT repost, republish, or sell in any form, electronic or otherwise. This should not be seen as official approval or endorsement. AO's booklists and curriculum are revised from time to time. Please be sure to check the AO website for the most up-to-date versions of our curriculum, booklists, and schedules."

From time to time we might peruse the files, and we reserve the right to remove any of them that we feel are not in keeping with CM's principles.

Q & A

Q: May I copy the site and link to it as my own work?
A: umm. . . NO. But thank you for asking.

Q: May I publish printables and schedules which use the AO years and Subject Rotations?
A: We are quite happy for families to use and make sundry helpful printables for their families' personal use, and/or to share gratis with the AO community via the forum. However, we ask that the AmblesideOnline materials (pretty much anything taken from the website) not be used for personal gain or reposted elsewhere on the web. If you are in doubt about a specific project and whether or not it complies, please ask.

Q: May I quote from the CM Series or from a Parent's Review article on my website or blog?
A: Yes! Please do! UNLESS your motive happens to be that of boosting visits to your site by mirroring ours. Which we can't really imagine that any of you lovelies would even think of doing. However, if that were the case, we'd thank you to please refer your readers to our site for the original text.

If you're in the market for hard copies of Charlotte Mason's books, we suggest that you look for reprints recently published by Living Book Press or Simply Charlotte Mason. There are other versions of the CM Series for sale at amazon that were taken from the AO website, complete with AO's formatting and added footnotes. Please do not support these opportunists as they are making money from what many volunteers worked hours to provide as a gift to the CM community. This includes Kindle versions. "Just because AO makes material available free on their website does not mean that others are free to take it and use it for their own profit." You can download the CM Series or paraphrases from our website to your Kindle for free by using "Push to Kindle" at That applies to other content on our website as well; you are welcome to download content for your personal use to your device.

Q: May I print copies of the CM series or PR articles?
A: We'd love for you to print materials for use in personal study or in small group study settings. HOWEVER, we reserve the right to grant or withhold permission to print for reselling purposes.

Q: What exactly does private distribution mean?
A: Well, let's think of this in terms of a private 'bridal shower;' how many would you think might be on that kind of invitation list? Certainly not more than 10-15, right? Well, we're thinking something similar. For example, 30 or 10,000 people in a reading group, or at a homeschool conference would no longer be considered very private. This goes for both print or electronic distribution. Occasional exceptions might be made, just ask.

Q: Am I allowed to make my own edited e-books or print mini-books using AO's Charlotte Mason Series online for sharing?
A: Nope, that would really stress us out. We've worked hard to make our materials available for free in various formats for ease of use. Get it for your kindle, print your own copy, print a copy for your best friend, but please refer the rest of your friends directly to the website. We hope that everyone will want to grab a copy for themselves and read it voraciously!

Q: I want to know EXACTLY how much I am allowed to copy and paste for quotes?
A: We're pretty sure that both you and we have way more important things to do than counting words. Please just use the same discretion you would use in quoting your average print book that you'd buy in the store!

Q: Charlotte Mason wrote way back in 1910's . . . aren't all of her works now in the public domain? So, why can't we freely use Charlotte Mason's work from AO's site?
A: Many volunteers have contributed their precious time typing the Series from the original version and quite a number of people have contributed links and commentary to make the AO annotated versions SUPER great. Though it's true we've made it available for FREE online, as opposed to offering them for purchase only, we are still jealous over our baby. Please respect the copyright.

Q: I don't understand why you won't allow people to market products and services that make it easier for moms to use AO. Why are you so stingy with something that's free? Why shouldn't I expect renumeration if I help people use AO? After all, my time is worth something.
A: After purchasing and pre-reading countless books that end up not making the cut, paying hundreds of dollars in library fines for overdue books that were being previewed for the curriculum, correlating pages and pages of notes to come up with history rotations that fit across the terms, working days together on three hours of sleep finalizing each high school Year, spending multiple series of 12-hour days linking books to free online etexts to the point of back pain and thumb-muscle discomfort, this sounds ungracious, as if our time means nothing. We are pleased to offer AO as a gift to homeschooling parents, and we prefer that our users offer their help and contributions in the same spirit.

We envision the AO project as a collective effort, like a church potluck. The Advisory has provided meat and vegetables, but everyone brings something to the table so there's a great big varied feast that everyone shares in, without any single person getting stuck with all the work. Recipes are shared, people swap tips, everyone enjoys the group effort. We have moms who post schedules, map links, YouTube playlists, study guides -- AO is richer because of what each mom adds to the AO "potluck." Some haven't brought a thing because the table already has plenty of food, but their friendly chatter and willingness to show newbies where the beverage table is adds to the general atmosphere.

AO is here for you to enjoy, and there's enough food here that you are welcome to fill your plate, pull up a chair, and enjoy a full seven-course meal at our table. You are welcome to take a small plate and get just a couple of things because you plan to add a few meat dishes from the restaurant down the street to fill out your meal. Some just come for coffee and dessert (artist/composer study) and they are welcome, too. Those with special needs (dietary or religious restrictions) are welcome to find a table to themselves and help each other navigate the tables and figure out which dishes they can eat, and what they might need to provide themselves to fill out their meal. We don't even mind if someone brings beautiful plastic forks and knives with a sign that says, "These utensils are crafted by me and free for you to use at this feast; if you'd like these in stainless or plated silver, my shop is at 456 Main Street," because their free offering adds to the table and doesn't require that anyone make a purchase to enjoy their meal.

But when one person starts collecting recipe cards from the potluck table and compiles them to sell, or when one person brings his bowl of beans and says, "here's my contribution, but you have to pay for it; I'm not giving it away," or starts hoarding some of the platters, or wants a fee for acting as tour guide -- others follow suit. The whole atmosphere changes, and what was a beautiful, open, giving community becomes something ugly and competitive, with each person protecting his own interests, and trying to find a way to turn the project into profit.

AO is a labor of love and we welcome you to use as much or as little as you need, but we feel that it is fair and proper to expect respect for our vision and help in contributing to the community rather than stifling it through self-interests.

With that in mind, please do not ask if you may set up a table at our potluck with brochures advertising your product. We will not allow you to interrupt conversation at our tables to sell your product or services. You may not prepare "to go" containers of our food to sell as a convenience so people don't have to go up to the potluck table and choose from the offerings themselves. You may not distribute flyers promoting your project on the windshields of the cars in the parking lot.

But please participate in the feast by adding your special platter of veggies cut into pretty shapes, or gluten-free dessert, or one-of-a-kind fruit punch. Or just pull up a chair, enjoy what's here, and share your burdens with the other chatty moms at the table. We're all in this together.

AmblesideOnline's free Charlotte Mason homeschool curriculum prepares children for a life of rich relationships with God, humanity, and the natural world.
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