Copyright Help

Notes for School Librarians

What is copyright?

Copyright is defined as the exclusive right of a creator to reproduce, prepare derivative works, distribute, perform, display, sell, lend or rent their creations.

What is fair use?

Fair use is the guidelines that educators follow to reproduce works for educational purposes.


In order to claim Fair Use:

  • Must be a non-profit educational institution
  • Must used for face to face instruction
  • Must use materials in support of curricular objectives in the school, has to be part of the lesson plan - not for recreational or reward usage
  • Must be legally obtained


Fair Use Guidelines

  • Allows teachers and students to use copyrighted materials without permission for educational purposes
  • Personally owned videos can be shown in the classroom as long as it supports educational objectives
  • How much can you copy? You cannot copy a whole book. You can copy a chapter or a few pages*
  • It is not fair use to copy "systematically," that is, where the aim is to substitute for subscription or purchase.
  • You can use a clip of a song or a short video clip
  • Copying is more likely to be fair if it is spontaneous- not planned to be used over many years. If you want to use a copyrighted work every year for many years, ask for permission from the copyright holder.
  • The more copying you do, the less likely it is to be fair use.
  • Always cite your sources!

*See handout from Technology & Learning for more specifics on Copyright and Fair Use

Helpful Links

For Educators

For Students