Copyright is an important part of working on the Web, as you and your students must be aware of copyright laws and policies in order to avoid accidental infringement. A good rule of thumb to follow is the Fair Use guideline, part of the legal code that ensures that copyrighted works can be used for educational and artistic purposes within certain limitations. The Fair use guidelines are:
- Purpose: The purpose of the use of the copyrighted work should be for educational use or to otherwise add value to the original. Parody and satire fall under fair use because they potentially add value to society’s understanding of the work.
- Nature: If the work is of a factual nature, there is far less limitation on fair use as opposed to works of a creative nature.
- Amount: The less taken from the copyrighted source, the better. In other words, it is acceptable to borrow a few lines from a poem, but it is not legal to make use of the entire poem, even if the purpose and nature of the use of the work are within fair use guidelines.
- Effect: If the use of the copyrighted work may have an impact on the original work’s continued marketability and the author’s right to earn money from the work, then it should not be used, even if the purpose, nature, and amount are all within fair use limitations.
A good place to start understanding the concepts surrounding copyright and Fair Use laws is the University Copyright Office at http://www.lib.purdue.edu/uco/.
Other resources to help you understand copyright and Fair Use:
- Stanford’s Copyright and Fair Use website
- Columbia’s Fair Use checklist
- Understanding the TEACH Act
- Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) info sheet from Harvard
Additional Copyright Resources