Breaking the law?

Understanding Copyright and Fair Use Law

OK...So what is it?

Copyright is a form of protection for creators of original work.

The creator alone has the ability to...

  • make copies of their work
  • distribute copies of their work
  • perform and display their work in public
  • make modifications or adaptations to their work

Copyright law protects the creators from having their ideas 'stolen.'

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What can I use?

The Copyright law states that Fair Use of a copyrighted work may be used for purposes in teaching.

Teachers may reasonably use copyrighted material in special circumstances without the Copyright owner's permission.

There are 4 factors that need to be considered when reasonably using a copyrighted work.

  • the purpose and character of the use, including whether the use is for a commercial purpose or is for a non-profit educational purposes
  • what kind of work is the copyrighted work
  • the amount and importance of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole
  • the effect of the use upon the potential commercial market for our value of the of the copyrighted work

The chart below clearly explains the factors of Fair Use and what to consider when using a piece of copyrighted material.


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If you need more information...

This video explains the basics of what and when it is ok to use copyrighted work.
Copyright Basics

This link is to the United States Copyright Office.

This link provides and overview of Copyright law and information for teachers, students and parents.

This site is a great resource for teachers to get information on how to teach the importance of intellectual property to their students. There are tons of links to activities, lesson plans, and other support.

This link provides trustworthy information and tools for teachers, students, and parents to use about the media they use.

This link will take you to Creative Commons, a nonprofit organization that enables the sharing and use of creativity and knowledge through free legal tools.

**Interested in learning more about Creative Commons and how to use their tools in your classroom? Watch the video below.**
Creative Commons - Wanna Work Together?
All cited images and videos on this site are used under the Fair Use interpretation of copyright law.