Helping to Clear the Murky Waters of Copyright & Fair Use in Education


Photographer: Horia Varlan

It is our job as educators to not only know about these laws, but to also teach about them in our classrooms.  The idea of copyright is a very good one.  Who wouldn’t want to protect their rights to something they have created?  However as teachers we can’t afford to pay for every item we would like to use for educational purposes, nor can we expect students to pay for everything they would like to implement into a project.  Luckily, fair use was established to help with these situation in the field of education.  The problem is that this gift is often a curse, because there is no one clear answer when it come to the rules of fair use in education.

A great place to start building your understanding of what is right and wrong with fair use is to print off the Copyright & Fair Use Guidelines for Teacherswhich is published online by Tech & Learning

Your next stop should be the website Education World which published a series of five articles that do a fabulous job of explaining copyright and fair use in education.   I highly recommend that you take the time to read them, especially Part 4: Applying Fair Use to New Technologies.

The Educator’s Guide to Copyright and Fair Use
Part 1: Copyrights and Copying Wrongs
Part 2: Is Fair Use a License to Steal?
Part 3: Copyright Law and New Technologies
Part 4: Applying Fair Use to New Technologies
Part 5: District Liability and Teaching Responsibility

Finally here are a few resources you and your students can use to avoid breaking copyright.  These are resources that are either classified as public domain or they are royalty free.

Under Google’s Advanced Search settings, you can select certain “Usage Rights”.  Watch this video to learn more. 

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