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The following page is not legal advice, but suppose to be an overview of Copyright law.


US Law

Five Rights of Copyright Holders

Copyright holders have the right to:

  1. Reproduction
  2. Adaptation or creation of derivative works
  3. Distribution by sale, gift, rental, lease or lending
  4. Public performance of the work
  5. Public display

Work should always be considered copyrighted, regardless of whether the copyright symbol appears within the work.

Copyright holders may sell or allow use of some or all of their rights.

What can be copyrighted?

Original works of authorship including literary, dramatic, musical, and artistic works, such as poetry, novels, movies, songs, computer software, and architecture. Copyright does not protect facts, ideas, or systems, although it may protect the way these things are expressed. US Copyright Law

Any of the above that can be copyrighted is considered immediately copyrighted upon creation.

History time line


A response to the invention of the printing press in late 1500s was basically formed to protect government censorship through a monopoly on book licensing.
British Parliament passed a copyright law “The Statute of Anne” allowing authors’ ownership and a fixed term of protection (14 years)
Constitutional convention in US – suggestion to include something regarding literary copyright in the constitution Article 1, section 8 says "The Congress shall have Power … To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries…"
George Washington (May 1790) signed the 1st copyright law. This law was based on the Statute of Anne and meant to encourage creativity and encourage learning by providing an incentive for authors, artists and scientists to create original work. It also introduced the idea of Public Domain.[1]
Extended term of protection to 28 years.
The International Copyright Act of 1886 of the Berne Convention served to establish international norms and provide protection internationally.
The Berlin Act lengthened the term of protection to the life of the author plus 50 years in Germany.
The Copyright Act of 1911 in the struggle to balance owner rights and public interest extended the term of protection to 28 years, with optional renewal of 28 more, and became inclusive of works such as architecture, music, and art.
Copyright Act of 1956 took into account the newest technologies of film and radio broadcasts and included protection of performance rights.
Revision of U.S. Copyright Act fair use codified and term lengthened to meet international standard of author’s life +50 years and allowed for library photocopying for education and preservation, however, classroom fair use guidelines not part of law – only included in the report accompanying the law – minimum standards of fair use agreed upon by educators and proprietors.
U.S. becomes a Berne signatory – copyright symbol no longer necessary to ID copyrighted works.
Law revised to include computer software
Copyright renewal became automatic.
CONFU the Conference on Fair Use established guidelines for fair use in an electronic environment.
World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) fair use in a digital environment especially in the areas of education research.

Sony Bono Copyright Term Extension Act extended the term of protection from 50 years after death to 70 years after death. Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DCMA) prohibits circulmventing technological protection measures.
TEACH Act (Technology, Education and Copyright Harmonizing Act) allows for fair use of information In distance education and digitization of analog (old radio/TV/music recordings) materials.

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Educational Fair Use (1976 revision of the copyright act)

Fair use of a copyrighted work for the purpose of education may not be an infringement of copyright law if all 4 fair use factors must be met: Guidelines These are guidelines only based upon case law based on the Limitations on exclusive rights.

There are no explicit, predefined, legal specifications of how much and when one can copy, but there are guidelines for fair use. Each case of copying must be evaluated according to four factors:

  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.

In relation to the the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work here are some guidelines for use. (bullet 3)

NOTE: The percentages are guidelines only.

  1. Print - 10% or 1,000 words a 250 word poem, a single chapter of a book, an article less that 2,500 words.
  2. Images - less than 5 images per artist 10% of collected works
  3. Music - 10% or 30 seconds,
  4. Video - 10% or 3 minutes
  5. Numerical Data - 10% pr 2,500 fields

Conference on Fair Use (CONFU)

CONFU background information

The Conference on Fair Use established guidelines for fair use in an electronic environment as relates to distance learning, multimedia, electronic reserves, interlibrary loans and image collections.

Paarsa Printing


The TEACH Act (Technology , Education and Copyright Harmonization Act) expands the scope of educators' rights to perform and display works and to make the copies integral to such performances and displays for digital distance education, making the rights closer to those we have in face-to-face teaching.

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Related To Media Types


Making podcast or cassette recordings Only the author has the right to create a derivative work based on the original.

New Libraries Podcast of Copyright in the Academic Environment from Arizona State University

Music: Printed & Performed

Up to 10% percent or a maximum of 30 seconds of a copyright musical composition may be reproduced, performed, and displayed as part of a multimedia program produced by an educator or students.

Multimedia program must have an educational purpose, and must cite and copyrighted sources used within the multimedia program.

Sheet music: Teachers can copy 10% of the entire work as long as it does not consist of an performable piece of music (i.e., aria or movement). You may make a copy of sheet music, only in an emergency situation AND replacement copies have been ordered, but have not arrived in time to use.

Guidelines with Respect to Copyrighted Music Material

ASCAP grants public performance licensing for much popular music

Musical, dramatic and nondramatic performances:

It is not permissible to:

create, replace or substitute for anthologies.

copy consumable material.

copy for the purpose of performance.

copy instead of purchasing music.

copy for each student in the class or group. Note: Sheet music does not fall under the same guidelines as prose

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Generally, teachers can work within Educational Fair Use Guidelines to reproduce:

  • A single copy of a chapter from a book
  • A single copy of an article from a periodical or newspaper
  • A single copy of a short story, short essay, or short poem
  • A single copy of a chart, graph, diagram, drawing, cartoon, or picture from a book, periodical, or newspaper

Teachers MAY NOT copy consumable materials, such as workbooks or standarized texts, in any way.

For multiple copies for classroom use, teachers must be sure their copies meet the three tests for copying: brevity, spontaneity, and cumulative effect.


  • Poetry: 250 words
  • Prose: a complete piece of 2,500 words or less can be copied as a whole; 1,000 words or 10% of larger works can be copied
    • Exception: up to two pages of picture books or comic books can be copied
  • Illustrations: one chart, graph, drawing, cartoon, diagram or picture may be copied per book or periodical issue; the illustration may not be modified or enlarged


  • Teachers must initiate the making of multiple copies.
  • If there is enough time, approximately three weeks, teachers must write to the copyright holder and ask for permission to use.
    • Teachers may not use the same material in subsequent semesters or years without permission.

Cumulative Effect

  • The materials being copied may not replace the purchase of books and periodicals.
  • The copies may not replace or substitute for anthologies, compilations or collective works.
  • Students may not be charged for copies beyond the actual cost of photocoping.

Motion Media

(film, DVD/video, TV)

Must for showing a film including vhs, dvd

  1. nonprofit educational
  2. Classroom or similar place
  3. instructors and pupils
  4. legally acquired copy (for example purchased, rented or borrow from your library or BOCES)
  5. face-to face teaching activities

Single copy of up to 3 minutes or 10% of the whole, whichever is less.

Showing a video for entertainment purposes is against copyright. It is considered a public performance.

Show copyrighted movies in your school or library – legally!

Movie Licensing USA is the licensing agent for most of the major motion picture studios. Movie licensing USA provide licensing to schools and public libraries so that entertainment movies may be used legally. The licensing provides peace of mind in knowing your K-12 School or Public Library is copyright compliant. Movie Licensing USA is a division of Swank Motion Pictures, and has served as the non-theatrical distributor representing most of the major Hollywood movie studios for 70 years. Movie Licensing Usa

  • BOCES owns the following DVDs on copyright. Please go to Webmax to check out the annotations of each one. They are available to borrow immediately and they are in DVD format.

VH9328 Copyright 101: An Introduction to Copyright

VH9330 Copyright Works in the Classroom; Copyright FAQs

VH9329 Copyright, Research & Publication; Copyright FAQs

VH9331 Copyright and Fair Use

VH9332 Copyright and the Library, Media Center and AV Department

VH9333 DMCA - The Digital Millennium Copyright Act in Detail

VH9334 Managing Education Uses of Copyright Works; Copyright FAQs

VH9335 The DMCA and Online Service Provider Limitation on Liability

VH9336 The DMCA and Digital Distance Education (The TEACH Act)

VH9338 Copyright for Students and Parents

Public Performance Rights

for licensed musical performances i.e. Hello Dolly, Les Miserables, etc.

In each instance a license/contract has been signed by the school and provider of the materials(scripts, scores, etc.) There are specific requirements related to performance, broadcast and distribution put forth in the contract. That being said, in most instances you may make a single copy for archival or classroom critique purposes.

Plagiarism and Cheating

Words and ideas can be stolen. Plagiarism is using someone else's words or ideas, and passing it off as your own. It is an important issue for students and teachers.

By paraphrasing, using quotation marks, and citing sources, students can to avoid plagiarism.

Paraphrasing is keeping the same idea as someone else, but using your own words. You still must cite the source where you got the idea.

When using a direct quote, you can avoid plagiarism by using quotation marks. You must cite the source when using quotation marks.

Finally, in the end, you are responsible for your work. You must cite all sources used.

  • An activity to help create plagiarism-proof assignments.

Teaching Materials

Lesson Plans

K-12 Copyright Lesson Plans

4-6 Cybersmart Copyright Lesson Whose Is It, Anyway?

9-12 Debate Over Downloading Music Lesson Plan

Staff-development or teacher materials

Copyright brochure - an educators' guide

Copyright bookmark side 1 side 2

Copyright and Fair Use Guidelines for Teachers chart from Technology & Learning

Copyright staff-development ppt

Copyright Quiz - test yourself. How compliant are you?

Student Materials

Copyright Interactive Student Questions/Answers Courtesy of Cyberbee Copyright Basics

Student Fair Use Survey Printable Student Handout

Copyright and Fair Use Guidelines for Student Projects Printable Student Handout


Blogs, wikis and podcasts

Multimedia Project Checklist

  • Project is for educational use.
  • Sources are credited publicly in project: Author, title, publisher, place and date of publication.
  • Stated on opening screen: "Certain materials are included under the fair use exemption of the U.S. Copyright Law and have been prepared according to the multimedia fair use guidelines. They are restricted from further use."
  • Project is not replicated or distributed for any purpose.
  • A copy of the project can be kept by the student forever, for use in a portfolio of academic work.
  • MOTION PICTURE = 3 minutes, or 10%, whichever is less
  • PHOTOGRAPHS = 5 by one person, and no more than 15 images or 10%, whichever is less, of the photographs or illustrations from a single published work
  • TEXT = 1000 words, or 10%, whichever is less

Dos and Don'ts

For Educators

Educators can use lawfully acquired copyrighted materials in their multimedia presentation that support their curriculum.

Educators can present their projects in face-to-face instruction,provide for studentself-study, and use for remote instruction with certain restrictions.

Educators can keep their multimedia projects indefinitely for the following purposes: performance or display at workshops or conferences, personal portfolios or job interviews.

Educators can keep their projects for a term of 2 years then permission must be obtained.

For Students

Students can use lawfully acquired copyrighted works in their multimedia curriculum-related projects.

Students can display or perform their own projects in the class for which it was created.

Students can keep their multimedia projects for their own portfolios for later use such as interviews.

Public Domain Information

The public domain is not a place. A work of authorship is in the “public domain” if it is no longer under copyright protection or if it failed to meet the requirements for copyright protection. Works in the public domain may be used freely without the permission of the former copyright owner. From US Copyright Law

Creative Commons Creative Commons provides free tools for authors, artists, and educators to mark their creative work with the freedoms they want it to carry. Our tools change "All Rights Reserved" into "Some Rights Reserved" — as the creator chooses. We are a nonprofit organization. Everything we do — including the software we create — is free.

Sample Copyright Policies

Alpine School District (UT) (Policy) (Rules & Regulations)

Bellingham School District (WA)

Clarkstown Central School District (NY)

Hopkins School District 270 (MN)

Indianapolis Public Schools

Jordan School District (UT)

Madison Metropolitan School District (WI) (Handbook)

Medford Area School District (WI)

Morehead Area Public Schools (MN)

Oshkosh Area School District (WI) (Policy) (Guidelines)

Sherman County School District (OR)

The Los Angeles Unified School District,75995&_dad=ptl&_schema=PTL_EP

Watertown Unified School District (WI)

Additional Resources - The American Library Association's links to copyright issues - The copyright office of the Library of Congress

Sections about copyright and law and policy are of particular interest. - Copyright Website

Launched in 1995, the Copyright Website strives to lubricate the machinations of information delivery by providing transparency to a particularly opaque and obtuse area of intellectual property. Whether you want to protect your own work by using our Copyright Wizard to file a Copyright Registration with the US Copyright Office, or check out the legal hijinks of the movie, recording and software industries, you've come to the right place! - Copyright Clearance Center A source for copyright permission and licensing services. - Council of Ministers of Education, Canada Statement on Copyright from the following provinces and territories: Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, New Brunswick, Newfoundland, Northwest Territories, Nova Scotia, Ontario, Prince Edward Island, Saskatchewan,Yukon. - Copyright and Citations: What Educators Need to Know by Phil Reinhardt - Stanford University Libraries Copyright and fair use articles and links for educators and students. - University of Maryland University College Copyright and Fair Use in the Classroom, on the Internet and the World Wide Web. - University of Texas, Austin - Copyright Crash Course - Music Rules! is a free educational program designed to encourage respect for intellectual property and responsible use of the Internet among students in grades 3-8. - Dee Davis, Xavier High School, Cedar Rapids, Iowa and Bruce Bergland, Northern Trails AEA, Clear Lake, Iowa. To Copy or Not to Copy-That is the Question. Very clear information from a presentation on fair use. - University of St. Francis, Joliet Il. Copyright Bay – An interactive site for copyright and fair use information. The Copyright Management Center (CMC) serves the Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) and larger Indiana University community with the management of copyright issues arising in the creation of original works and in the use of existing copyrighted works for teaching, research, and service. Guide to the TEACH Act by the Office of Legal Affairs of the University System of Georgia. Includes various scenarios. The WATCH File: Writers, Arists and Their Copyright Holders A database of copyright contacts for writers, artists, and prominent figures in other creative fields. - University of California at Berkeley Library - Guidelines for Off-Air Taping for Educational Purposes (Kastenmeier Guidelines) - Information Policy: Copyright and Intellectual Property (International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions [IFLA]) An extensive bibliography of online texts from IFLA and other sources dealing with copyright and intellectual property issues and policies. Includes a number of resources dealing with digital media. - Association for Information Media and Equipment (AIME) AIME is a media industry organization that acts in the interest of video and software producers and distributors. The organization has produced a number of books and videos dealing with video and digital copyright (available for purchase from this web site) - Public Domain (University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill) A useful table developed by Laura Gasaway that outlines the current terms and definitions of public domain. Includes material from new Term Extension Act, PL 105-298 - Ten Big Myths About Copyright Explained An opinionated but useful attempt to answer common myths about copyright seen on the net and to cover issues related to copyright and Internet publication, by Brad Templeton. RIT’s page for students of a collection of resources to assist students with copyright and plagiarism, including how to cite resources, copyright law, and other relevant websites. Rush Henrietta's Copyright page, including a PowerPoint presentation for faculty.


The Copyright "Fair-Use" Guidelines Act of 1976 governs what we, as users of copyrighted materials, can and cannot do in terms of copying and making reprints. There have been several lawsuits which resulted from violations and abuses of the act. Interpretations of the law and what constitutes "fair-use" of copyrighted materials will change from time to time, based on court decisions and appeals of decisions. This information is being provided to update information that was released post-1976 when the new copyright law was passed. As new appeals and interpretations are made, we will keep you informed of new developments.

VIDEO-TAPING OFF-AIR by non-profit educational institutions

A television broadcast can be taped off-air if the following "fair-use" guidelines are followed: 1. Programs may be recorded off-air and the tapes retained by the district for 45 school calendar days following the date of recording. Following the 45th day, the tapes must be erased. 2. Off-air recordings may be used once by individual teachers and repeated only once when instructional reinforcement is necessary. These must be used within the first ten consecutive school days in the 45 day-calendar retention period. 3. Teachers must request that the programs be recorded. 4. Recorded programs may not be altered from their original content.


New copyright legislation guarantees the purchaser of a microcomputer program the following rights: 1. To make one or more copies for archival purposes to guard against destruction or damage through mechanical failure. 2. To make adaptations in order to use the program correctly. 3. To add features to the program so long as the altered program is not sold or given away without the original author's permission.

Locksmith-type programs to copy software violate the copyright law.


A Teacher May Not: 1. Make multiple copies of work for classroom use if it has already been copied for another class in the same institution. 2. Make multiple copies of a short poem, article, story, or essay from the same author more than once in a class term, or make multiple copies from the same collective work or periodical issue more than three times a term. 3. Make multiple copies of works more than nine times in the same class term. 4. Make a copy of works to take the place of an anthology. 5. Make a copy of "consumable" materials, such as workbooks.


A Teacher May: Make a single copy, for use in scholarly research, or in teaching, or in preparation for teaching a class, of the following:

1. A chapter from a book, or an article from a periodical or newspaper. 2. A short story, short essay, or short poem, whether or not from collected work. 3. A chart, graph, diagram, drawing, cartoon, or picture from a book, periodical, or newspaper.

Make multiple copies for classroom use only, and not to exceed one per student in a class, of the following: 1. A complete poem, if it is less than 250 words and printed on not more than two pages. 2. An excerpt from a longer poem, if it is less than 250 words. 3. A complete article, story, or essay, if it is less than 2,500 words. 4. An excerpt from a prose work, if it is less than 1,000 words or 10 percent of the work, whichever is less. 5. One chart, graph, diagram, drawing, cartoon or picture per book or periodical.

The above information originally appeared in a Library and Media Newsletter for the South Dakota Department of Education and Cultural Affairs, Vol. 3, No. 1., Feb., 1978.


1. Emergency copying may be done for an imminent performance only if copies are lost and only if the missing copies are later purchased. 2. Other than for a performance, multiple copies may be made of excerpts of works (but not an entire work) or an entire performable unit such as section, movement, aria, etc. but not more than 10% of the whole work. 3. A single copy can be made if an entire performable unit is out of print or unavailable except in a larger work (for purpose of research by teacher or preparation to teach a class).


What are the penalties if the court finds that the teacher or librarian knowingly infringed upon the copyright? The awards to the copyright owner can be substantial: $500 to $20,000 per work infringed upon and up to $100,000 in cases of willful, or knowledgeable, infringement. If the defendant is able to prove that the infringement was "innocent," the damages may be reduced to $200 per work infringed upon.


What can I copy? A single copy of a chapter from a book, a newspaper or magazine article, a short story, short essay or short poem, or a single chart, graph, diagram, drawing, cartoon or picture from a book, periodical or newspaper may be made for personal or research use, or for use in teaching a class.

Multiple copies for classroom use? Yes, but copy length is limited: you may copy a whole poem only if it is under 250 words (or a 250 word excerpt from a longer poem); a whole article, story or essay only if it is less than 2500 words (or an excerpt if it is less than 1000 words or 10% of the work, whichever is less); a single chart, graph, diagram, drawing, cartoon, or picture per book or magazine; and only two page of a picture book ( as long as the two pages don't contain more than 10 percent of the total text of the book).

How many copies may I make? You may make a single copy of the items listed above if the copy is for personal use, research, or to teach a class. For multiple copies for classroom use you can only make enough copies for each pupil enrolled in the course, i.e., no "extra" copies. You may not copy more than one entire item (or two excerpts) from a single author, or three article from a single book or periodical volume during one class term (semester or year, depending on the course.) You can not have more than nine instances of multiple copying per course during a class term.

When and how may I use the copies? You, the teacher, must make the decision to make the copies. (Your principal or supervisor is not allowed to tell you to make copies of copyrighted material.) You must decide to make the copies so close to the time you would need them in class that writing for permission would be unreasonable. (Two weeks would be a reasonable time.) You can only copy the item for one course (all your English I classes, for example). Each item copied must have a notice of copyright.

This sounds hard. Why don't you just tell me what I can't copy? You can never copy, in any form, items intended to be consumable. That includes workbook pages, standardized tests, coloring books, answer sheets, test booklets, etc. You also can't make so many different copies that you are, in effect, creating your own textbook. Copying cannot take the place of books, publisher's reprints or magazine subscriptions. You can't charge students for copying above the actual cost of the copies. And you can't copy the same items from semester to semester. In other words, if you copied it last semester, you can't copy it again without getting permission from the copyright owner.


What can I copy? Nothing... without express written permission from the copyright owner. The one exception to this rule is if you have purchased a copy of the software, you may make one backup copy of the original diskette. This backup copy is only for emergency purposes and it may never be used unless the original copy is somehow destroyed or lost. The software may be copied onto the hard drive of a computer in order to run the program, but it is against the law to maintain simultaneous copies in different hard drives.

You may not install a program on more than one computer at a time without express, written permission from the copyright owner of if you purchased a site license. This means that you cannot install the program on your computer at home and your computer at school unless you own two copies of the program or have permission to do so from the copyright owner.

Can a math teacher make five copies of a copyrighted computer program for use by students at school or at home? This type of copying is clearly prohibited by copyright laws and almost all license agreements.


What can I copy? You may make emergency copies of music for an immediate performance, provided replacement copies have been ordered.

You may copy excerpts (not to exceed 10% of the work) provided they do not constitute a performable unit, and provided you make no more than one copy per student.

You may make a single recording of a copyrighted performance by students for evaluation purposes; it may be retained, but copies of it may not be made.


I have a 16mm film; it would be easier to use on video...can I have it copied? To make a copy of an audio-visual work other than one recorded under the Fair Use Guidelines requires the written permission of the copyright holder. In most cases, a polite, well-written letter explaining the circumstances will result in permission being granted, but don't make the copy unless you receive permission.

May I show rented tapes in class? Yes... if you rent a tape that applies to your instructional needs, include it in your lesson plans and use it in "face-to-face" instruction it falls under the Fair Use Guidelines.

No... if the tape is to be shown as a "reward" it cannot be used. Rental stores do not ordinarily purchase "public performance rights" for their tapes, which are required for materials that do not fall under Fair Use Guidelines. Many libraries purchase "public performance rights, " but you should ask.

What is the meaning of the sentence "Off-air recordings may be used once by individual teachers in the course of relevant teaching activities"? This means that a teacher may use the recording one time in each class during the first 10 consecutive school days after the date of recording. The recorded program may be used a second time in any given class to clarify points that may not have been clear or where a second showing is needed to reinforce an instructional objective.

May an elementary school teacher show a videotape of the film The Lion King to his or her class for entertainment on the last day of school? No. Because a classroom is a place where a substantial number of persons outside of a family and friends are gathered, performances in classrooms are public. Assuming that this use is for entertainment rather than for face-to-face teaching, the classroom exception would not apply. It is unlikely that such a public performance would be a fair use.

Carol Mann Simpson, Copyright for School Libraries: A Practical Guide, Linworth Publishing, Inc. 1994

Janis H. Bruwelheide, The Copyright Primer for Librarians and Educators, 2nd ed. American Library Association, 1995 - The United States Copyright Law A Guide for Music Educators - Revised copy 2003. Presented as a service by: The National Association For Music Education (MENC),Music Publishers' Association of The United States, Music Teachers National Association, National Association of Schools of Music, National Music Publishers' Association.

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