The Weekly Update

from SD State Library School Library Services

March 14, 2022

Copyright Matters!

Copyright laws seem like they should be common sense, but they are often times confusing. There are rules to copyright, though, and it is important to make sure you are always in the clear. As the information literacy experts in your schools, it is also important for you to be able to pass along this information to your teachers, students, and administrators.

Here are some terms and definitions you may want to become more familiar with:


An exclusive legal right given to the creator or an assignee of an original work of authorship that is fixed in any tangible medium of expression currently known or later developed. In the United States, a copyright is not dependent upon registration of the work. Exclusive owners of a copyright may provide a license to another party to create copies of the work. Protection does not extend to an idea, procedure, process, system tile, principle or discovery.

Fair use

Fair use is a critical right that permits the public to use portions of copyrighted material without permission from the copyright owner, under certain circumstances, to engage in a wide variety of vital activities. It enables new technologies, and is a cornerstone of free speech, creativity and the economy. Fair use industries account for 16% of the U.S. economy and generate $5.6 trillion in annual revenue. Examples of fair use include educational use, search engines, internet memes, parody and quoting from a news article or academic study. Fair use also allows people to make entirely new uses of copyrighted works that courts and Congress have never contemplated. In the U.S., it is codified under Section 107 of the Copyright Act and has been interpreted broadly by our judicial system.

The four factors used to determine if something is protected by fair use include:

1. the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes;

2. the nature of the copyrighted work;

3. the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole;

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

Public domain

The public domain includes creative works that are not subject to copyright because their copyright has expired, as well as aspects of copyrighted works–such as their underlying ideas–that are not subject to copyright. The public domain is a critical source of creativity, inspiration and innovation for creators. Works and ideas in the public domain belong to the public and their use does not violate copyright. Public domain works like Homer’s Odyssey, the Bible, and Shakespeare’s plays are the basis for modern storytelling, and even Hollywood has used the public domain to create countless works. For example, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein has inspired everything from 2015 film Ex Machina to Mel Brooks’ Young Frankenstein to The Munsters to the “Monster Mash” song, along with dozens of books, video games, TV episodes and comic book characters. In 2002, prominent economists including Milton Friedman, Ronald Coase and Kenneth Arrow found that the public domain benefits the economy.

*Definitions from re:create: Innovators, Creators and Consumers United for Balanced Copyright.

To learn more about copyright in the school setting, join us for our Copyright Matters webinar on March 16. Click the picture below for more information and to register.

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Copyright and Content Use in K-12

I recently attended this webinar that shared wonderful information about copyright in our schools. They encouraged us to share the recording, so I am! I hope you find it useful.
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1 Video About Copyright Concerns in 3D Printing

With many of our school libraries now housing STEM labs and possibly having 3D printers, we will have to consider copyright laws as they relate to this technology. Below is a video one of SDSL's free databases - EBSCOhost's Teacher Reference Center - from which you can learn more.

2 Copyright Tools from ALA

Public Domain Slider

The Public Domain Slider is a tool to help determine the copyright status of a work that is first published in the U.S.

Exceptions for Instructors eTool

The Exceptions for Instructors eTool guides users through the educational exceptions in U.S. copyright law, helping to explain and clarify rights and responsibilities for the performance and display of copyrighted content in traditional, distance and blended educational models.

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3 Websites for Fair Use Images

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..from SDSL School Library Services

The Weekly Update is a correspondence from the South Dakota State Library focusing on current topics in school libraries, best practices, resources, professional development, and more.

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