An Educator's Guide to Copyright


What is copyright?
    According to the United States Copyright Office, “copyright is a form of protection provided by the laws of the United States to the authors of ‘original works of authorship.’” In general, ideas cannot be copyrighted, but the expression of those ideas can.  Works that can be copyrighted include literary works; musical works and lyrics; dramatic works and music; choreography and pantomime; graphics, pictures, and sculptures; motion pictures and other A/V works; sound recordings; architectural works. 
What rights are protected for the copyright holder?
1.    reproduction
2.    performance
3.    adaptation
4.    distribution
5.    display

What is the duration of copyright?
•    Works published more than 75 years ago have become part of the public domain. 
•    Works created less than 75 years ago may be protected by copyright.  Check it out!

The Fair Use Doctrine

What is fair use?
   Educators are permitted to use small portions of copyrighted material for instructional purposes under the Fair Use Doctrine. 

How can I evaluate fair use?
   Consider the PANE factors, keeping in mind that the amount and effect of use tend to weigh more heavily than the purpose and nature:

Purpose.    How do you intend to use the work?  Instructional uses are
                    likely to be  permitted while commercial uses are not. 

Amount.    How much do
you intend to use?  In general, small amounts
                    that do not reflect the “essence” of a work are acceptable.

Nature.      What is the type of work in question?  Factual material is
                    more permissible than fiction.

Effect.         How will the use of the work effect its potential sales?  A
                    use of the work that is likely to boost sales is likely to be
                    deemed fair use. 

Further  Information

Check out the resources consulted in compiling this information:

Butler, Rebecca P. Copyright for Teachers and Librarians. New York: Neal Schumann, 2004.  

Davidson, Hall. "Copyright and Fair Use Guidelines for Teachers." n.d. Web.  5 Nov. 2010.

Keyt, Richard.  "Top Ten Urban Copyright Myths."  Keyt Law:  A Legal Information Resource
      12 Dec. 2009.  Web.  5 Nov. 2010.

Torrans, Lee Ann. Law for K-12 Libraries and Librarians. Westport, CT: Libraries Unlimited,
       2003. Print.

United States Copyright Office.   Copyright Basics.   n.d. Web.  5 Nov. 2010.  

When in doubt, ASK PERMISSION!

updated November 2010