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Copyright Protection

This page is designed to help you understand and abide by the rules of copyright protection.

Copyright Law of the United States - This is the law direct from the "horse's mouth" at the U.S. Copyright Office.  Educators may also want to pay particular attention to Section 107, Page 19.

Q&A on Copyright in the Campus Community - The Copyright Clearance Center has published a new edition of a popular copyright guidebook for colleges and universities. The seventh edition of "Questions & Answers on Copyright for the Campus Community" provides answers to 31 common copyright questions, as well as other information, to help colleges understand how copyright law applies to them. The latest edition provides updated information on the use of electronic course materials and software. In recent years, many faculty members have begun posting copyrighted content on web sites and internal course management systems, where this content can be read, downloaded, and printed by students. The guidebook makes clear that the use of such content is governed by the same legal principles that apply to printed materials. "With more content now available in digital form, it is important to clarify copyright responsibilities in the digital age, and that's what this guidebook is designed to do," said Tracey Armstrong, chief operating officer of Copyright Clearance Center.

Copyright Basics and the Internet- The Copyright Basics page of the Lakeview High School Library Web site offers students and teachers a succinct summary of copyright history, fair use, public domain, and guidelines for utilizing educational multimedia in a school project. The issue of Internet plagiarism is addressed and additional links to online copyright resources are provided.

Copyright and the Classroom - The Copyright Alliance Education Foundation has developed a free online video, Copyright in the Classroom, to provide a quick explanation of copyright, identify “teachable moments” in the classroom, and review all the free teaching resources available at the Alliance web site.

Copyright Guidelines

Copyright Law in the Electronic Environment

The Copyright Website

Stanford University Guidelines

Simpson, Carol.  "Copyright for Schools: A Practical Guide, 3rd Edition."  Linworth Publishing ISBN 1-58683-018-x.. 2001. 176 pages.

Fair Use

The concept of fair use has existed since the founding of our nation.  The Copyright Act of 1976 was enacted to protect the rights of individuals to comment, criticize, report, and teach on content that is protected by copyright. The specific fair use text is as follows:

Notwithstanding the provisions of sections 17 U.S.C. § 106 and 17 U.S.C. § 106A, the fair use of a copyrighted work, including such use by reproduction in copies or phonorecords or by any other means specified by that section, for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research, is not an infringement of copyright. In determining whether the use made of a work in any particular case is a fair use the factors to be considered shall 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; and
  4. the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.

The fact that a work is unpublished shall not itself bar a finding of fair use if such finding is made upon consideration of all the above factors.

These four factors make for an excellent framework for decision making with regard to fair use. A useful tool for analyzing if use of copyrighted material falls under the doctrine of "fair use" is the Fair Use Checklist from Indiana/Purdue University Copyright Management Center. Using these four factors as headings, you can determine if you are within the bounds of fair use when it comes to incorporating copyrighted materials in the classroom.

Educational Exemption

The Educational Exemption, also called the "face-to-face teaching exemption," is a precise activity which allows the legal use of movies in certain types of teaching. In order for a movie to be considered an "Educational Exemption," all criteria must be met:

  1. A teacher or instructor is present.
  2. The showing takes place in a classroom setting with only the enrolled students attending.
  3. The movie is used as an essential part of the core, required curriculum being taught. (The instructor should be able to show how the use of the motion picture contributes to the overall required course study and syllabus.)
  4. The movie being used is a legitimate copy, not taped from a legitimate copy or taped from TV

For more information, read both and  Another resource, specifically for filmmakers, can be found at the Center for Social Media.

What is the "Face-To-Face Teaching Exemption"?


The copyright law contains an exception which allows the lawful use of "home use only" video recordings for public performance or display without the permission of the copyright owner. Section 110 (1) of the law appears to allow the classroom use of video programs that have not been cleared for public performance if, and only if, all of the conditions set forth by the law are met.

Notwithstanding the provisions of section 106, the following is not an infringement of copyright: (1) performance or display of a work by instructors or pupils in the course of face-to-face teaching activities of a nonprofit educational institution, in a classroom or similar place devoted to instruction, unless, in the case of a motion picture or other audiovisual work, the performance, or the display of individual images, is given by means of a copy that was not lawfully made under this title, and that the person responsible for the performance knew or had reason to believe was not lawfully made;...

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