Are You A Thief?

A guide to copyright, fair use and Creative Commons

Copyright matters more that you think.

Google defines copyright as "The exclusive legal right, given to an originator or an assignee to print, publish, perform, film, or record literary, artistic, or musical material, and to authorize others to do the same." What this means is that when a piece of work is created, the creator has some exclusive rights over his or her work. This covers online material as well. Teachers must be careful about what they use from the internet for their classes to ensure that they are not breaking copyright laws.

What Copyright covers:

Copyright covers specific, concrete “intellectual property” ie. photos, videos, music, lesson plans etc.

Copyright does not cover things such as ideas, facts, or “non-tangible” things

Copyright is not to be confused with a patent or a trademark

Fair Use: Copyright limitations

When it comes to fair use educators and schools have more flexibility than anyone else. Fair use allows people to copy part of something for a limited time and make personal use of the information for things like parody, commentary, criticism, news reporting and research.

When using copyrighted material keep in mind the following four points

1. The purpose and character of the use, are you using the material for commercial or educational purposes? If educational than it qualifies for fair use.

2. The nature of the copyrighted work

3. The amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the whole work.

4. The effect upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.

Creative Commons

Creative Commons is a resource that all teachers should be aware of, it is a licensing tool that allows you to control the copyright on work that you create. This is used by creators and artists that want to share their work but do not want to be bothered with giving permission every time. A Creative Commons license is adaptable and allows you to choose how material can be used and if it can be adapted.

In general it allows you to use material as long as attribution is given and others are informed of where you found the work. Additionally you must not profit from using the content and must use the same license on anything you create with the content or work. Some works may not be licensed for adapting so make sure you are familiar with the Creative Commons series of symbols.