Copyright Concerns & Guidelines


Copyright and Fair Use Guidelines for Teachers (PDF)Copyright protects the rights of the creator of a work from unauthorized copying. In other words, if you develop a Web page or write a poem, or a book, or a piece of music, no one can reproduce it or sell it without your permission.

Copyright is one method of encouraging people or businesses to take the time and financial risk to produce and distribute information. Problems arise when others want to copy the information you, or others, have worked hard to produce. This really wasn't much of an issue until fast, inexpensive copy and printing machines, audio and video recorders, and computers came into use. Only rarely did anyone bother to copy long passages by hand, and certainly not multiple copies. However, with the advent of these fast, easy methods of copying, where to draw the line between the creators' rights and the users' rights became more complicated.

Fair Use
One means of addressing the conflict between the rights of the creator and the rights of the users of the information is the doctrine of "fair use." In 1978, fair use became law in the United States, even though it had been recognized long before that. Fair use allows copying of a limited amount of material without permission from, or payment to, the copyright owner, when the use is
reasonable and not harmful to the rights of the copyright owner.

Fair use specifies four criteria to use in determining whether a particular instance of copying is "fair use."
These include:

  1. The purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purpose.
  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. The effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.


Limitations to Fair Use
The Fair Use Guidelines for Educational Multimedia
Created in 1996 to clarify the application of fair use of copyrighted works as teaching methods are adapted to new learning environments. These are guidelines only, accepted by many, but not yet placed into law.

Fair use is limited by the following parameters:

Educators may use their projects for teaching courses for two years. Use beyond that time period requires obtaining permission for each copyrighted portion.

Portions are generally specified in the aggregate, meaning the total amount that can be used from a single copyrighted work.

Motion Media
Up to 10% or 3 minutes, whichever is less, from a single copyrighted work.

Up to 10% or 1000 words, whichever is less, from a single copyrighted work. Special limitations are placed on poems.

Music, Lyrics, and Music Video
Up to 10%, but in no event more than 30 seconds, of the music and lyrics from an individual musical work.

Illustrations and Photographs
No more than 5 images by an artist or photographer. From a published collective work, no more than 10% or 15 images, whichever is less. The jury is still out on how this might apply to use of an image found on a Web site where only one or two images might exist. ASK PERMISSION. Also
make sure the Web owner is indeed the legal copyright owner.

Up to 10% or 2500 fields or cell entries from a database or table.

Copying and Distribution
There may be no more than two copies, only one of which can be placed on reserve. An additional copy may be made for preservation (backup) purposes. Student projects can be included in portfolios or used for jobseeking purposes.

When in doubt, ask for permission before use.


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