Copyright Laws

Investigation of copyright laws for technology use

Reviewing Copyright Laws for Technology Use of:

  • AUDIO files such as songs or podcasts
  • VISUAL works such as photos and clipart
  • TEXT such as research, writing, or poetry

What is Copyright?

Essentially, copyright laws are created to protect the commercial reproduction rights of artists and authors. The Copyright Act (Title 17 of the U.S. Code) protects original “works of authorship,” which include literature, music, paintings, movies, choreography and computer programs -- it protects the way an author or artist expresses an idea, principle or fact; it does not protect the underlying ideas or facts themselves (Zaharoff, 2014).
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Copyright Covers 5 Key Rights:

  • Reproduction - the right to create identical / similar copies of the work
  • Adaptation - the right to create derivatives of the original work
  • Distribution - the right to make the first sale of each copy of the work
  • Performance - the right to publicly recite, play, dance or act the work
  • Display - the right to publicly show the work (Zaharoff, 2014, para. 3)

Songs, podcasts, music...

A sheet of music, recorded song, or concert that's been captured on video is copyrighted. Copyright for audio files protects the particular series of sounds that are embodied in a recording against unauthorized reproduction, alteration, or distribution of phonorecords containing those sounds (U.S. Copyright Office, 2014, para. 2).

Photos, clipart, drawings, sculptures...

The owner of copyright in a visual work is the only one with exclusive rights to make copies, prepare derivatives, distribute or sell copies of the work, and publicly display the work. Individuals or parties with a desire to use the work in the above mentioned ways, must have permission of the artist/author or someone who has derived rights through the artist/author (U.S. Copyright Office, 2014, p. 1).

Research, writing, poetry...

Copies may be made only from legally acquired originals and must contain copyright information. “Consumables,” such as workbooks, may not be copied. Archiving rights are designed to allow libraries to share with other libraries one-of-a-kind and out-of-print books (Davidson, n.d.).

Copyright Materials for Online Educational Study

What does this mean for instructors who are making available various materials (audio and video clips, online articles, etc.) online for educational study?

Factors of Fair Use- If using copyrighted material in teaching, four factors will determine whether or not use of that material qualifies as "fair use" (University of Oregon, 2014, Fair Use). Note that ALL FOUR of these factors must be evaluated for fair use to apply:

1. Nature of the Use

2. Nature of the Copyrighted Work

3. The Quantity of the Work Used

4. The Potential Impact on the Copyright holder's Market

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Davidson, H. (n.d.). Hall Davidson. Retrieved from

University of Oregon. (2014). Teaching effectiveness program. Retrieved from

U.S. copyright office. (2014). Retrieved from

Zaharoff, H. (2014). Morse Barnes-Brown Pendleton. Retrieved from