Copyright Laws

Middle School Guidelines

What is copyright?

Copyright is a form of protection given to the author or creator of "original works of authorship."

It is illegal for anyone to do the following without the author or creator's permission.

  • make copies
  • distribute copies
  • perform work publicly (such as music, plays, dances, etc.)
  • display work publicly (such as television, internet, artwork, etc.)

Why should you care about copyright?

As a creator, you want to have the right to do what you want with what you created. Other people want those same rights. This is where copyright comes in. Copyright gives you a set of rights that prevent other people from copying your work.

What's protected by copyright?

Copyright protects original work that is fixed in a tangible form of expression.


  • literary works (books, poems, reports, brochures, online works, games, computer programs)
  • musical compositions and sound recordings
  • pictorial and graphic works
  • motion pictures
  • choreographic works

Not Protected:

  • ideas, procedures, concepts, and discoveries
  • titles, names, short phrases
  • works that are not fixed in a tangible form (improvised speeches and performances)
  • works by the US government

Work does not have to registered or contain the copyright symbol to be protected.

Fair Use Guidelines

"Fair Use" allows limited copying of copyrighted works for educational and research purposes.

The following factors must be considered-

  • the purpose and character of the use-should be educational or non-profit

  • the nature of the copyrighted work-should be factual and unpublished

  • the amount and substantiality of the portion used-can use small amounts but not all of it

  • the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work-does not affect the profit of the owner

When in doubt...ask permission!

By: Ashley Brockhaus