Digital Ethics Part 3

Copyright and Fair Use

Copyright Guidlines NCWise OWL

The guidelines for including work that is done by other people in your own presentation, report, or movie:

Writing from a book, magazine, etc.

  • Up to 1000 words, but not more than 10% of the book or article


  • Up to 250 words (or the entire poem if it is less than 250 words)
  • No more than 3 poems by the same poet
  • No more than 5 poems from a collection of poetry

Photographs or drawings

  • Up to 5 graphics or photos from the same person
  • No more than 15 images from the same collection
  • Images can not be changed


  • Up to 3 minutes but no more than 10% of the entire video
  • The video clip may not be changed in any way


  • Up to 30 seconds but no more than 10% of sheet music
  • Up to 30 seconds but no more than 10% of a recording
  • The music can not be changed in any major way

Giving credit to your source

  • An opening screen of a presentation must indicate that it follows the "fair use" rules of the U.S. Copyright law
  • Copyright information for all items used must be included in a bibliography
A Fair(y) Use Tale

Copyright Definitions

What is Copyright?

Copyright refers to a Federal law that protects work created by you or anyone else from being copied, changed, or used without permission. In other words, when you create something like a story, photograph, poem, song, or drawing, it belongs to you and others have to get your permission to use it.

What is "Fair Use"?

“Fair Use” refers to a set of guidelines that allows you to use parts of copyrighted works for educational purposes, such as writing a report or making a multimedia presentation. The basic guidelines for “Fair Use” are covered HERE.

Do I always have to follow the copyright laws and guidelines?

You may avoid the copyright issue by simply writing or emailing the person who created the work and asking permission to use it. Getting written permission like this is always the safest way to make sure your report or presentation is legal, and it's easy, thanks to the convenience of email.

How can I make sure my own work is copyrighted?

Your work is automatically copyrighted. You may indicate this by putting a notice in your work - something like “Copyright 2006, My Name” (using your own name, of course).

Can I register my copyrighted work?

You may register your creation with the U.S. Copyright Office, ( but you would probably only want to do this is you planned on selling it or if you want to display or present it in public (it costs money to register a work).

How long does a copyright last?

A work is protected until 70 years after the death of its creator. An exception to this is that an work that was published before 1923 is currently not protected by copyright. Another way of saying that something is not protected by copyright is that is “in the public domain”.

11 Big Myths About Copyright Explained

by Brad Templeton

Students work in small group to discuss these myths and share out with the class.

1) "If it doesn't have a copyright notice, it's not copyrighted."

2) "If I don't charge for it, it's not a violation."

3) "If it's posted to Usenet it's in the public domain."

4) "My posting was just fair use!"

5) "If you don't defend your copyright you lose it." -- "Somebody has that name copyrighted!"

6) "If I make up my own stories, but base them on another work, my new work belongs to me."

7) "They can't get me, defendants in court have powerful rights!"

8) "Oh, so copyright violation isn't a crime or anything?"

9) "It doesn't hurt anybody -- in fact it's free advertising."

10) "They e-mailed me a copy, so I can post it."

11)"So I can't ever reproduce anything?"