Intro to Copyright

Copyright is basically the legal right of a creator or legal designee to print, publish, perform, film, or record literary, artistic, or musical material, and to authorize others to do the same.

According to ASCD, the four tests for fair use with regard to copyright include:

  • The purpose and character of the use. Will the materials be used non- commercially in a nonprofit education institution?
  • The nature of the work being copied. Is the work published or unpublished? Is it factual or creative? Unpublished works have stronger protections than do published works. Although facts cannot be protected, the expression of those facts may be.
  • The amount of the work being used. Are you using a little, a lot, or all of a work? The more you use, the less likely that the use is fair.
  • The effect of your use on the market for or value of the work being copied. What would happen if everyone were to do what you are proposing? Would you deprive the copyright owner of a sale or harm the value in other ways? If you have any commercial intent, even if the money goes to a good cause, harm to the market is assumed.

The type of media is important because copyright restrictions are specifically related to the venue in which the material exists. One example relates to audio and video tapes. A teacher may use either of those without a public performance license when used specifically related to teaching content. The teacher may NOT use the same material without a performance license when used for entertainment, class reward, or something akin to a rainy day recess.

There are more specifics related to teaching, but that’s very basic introduction to the copyright topic.


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