Thursday, October 23, 2008

Another website

This website goes through the different mediums that may be used in the classroom, and clearly lays out what is allows and not allowed with these mediums. Great reference when there is doubt.

Websites to check out

This is a cute web activity that could be used in your classrooms to teach students about copyright laws:

Check out this website- there are a lot of questions to common questions about copyright issues in the classroom:

Monday, October 13, 2008

What is fair use?

Fair use is an exception to the laws of copyright. Fair use exists in order to give “citizens special exceptions to the strict legal copyright requirements” for the purpose of the advancement of “knowledge and scholarship” (Simpson, 39). There are four factors which must be considered when contemplating the use of fair use. These factors, as laid out by the US Copyright office, are as follows:

  1. the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes;
  2. the nature of the copyrighted work;
  3. 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.

According to Simpson, the fair use defense is one of the most misunderstood aspects of the copyright law, when discussing copyright laws in the school systems (p. 39). Simpson says that there are 4 common misconceptions of fair use:

  1. Schools can copyright protected materials that they wish, because they are schools;
  2. Using materials is OK if you don’t make a profit
  3. Promoting someone’s work by distributing copies is justification for free use
  4. Materials used “for the good of the kids” absolve one of copyright liability.

It is important for schools to carefully consider the rights of the creator before using those materials. Remember that fair use is a DEFENSE that can be used in court, and it is the educator’s job to prove that they did not break the fair use guidelines.

Simpson, C. (2005). Copyright for schools: A practical guide. (4th ed.). Worthington, Ohio: Linworth Publishing, Inc.

US Copyright Office (2006). Fairuse. Retrieved October 12, 2008 from

Monday, October 6, 2008

If I create something to use in my classroom, do I have copyrights to my creation?

Surprisingly, no. Because you work under contract for a school district, anything that you create for use in the school, becomes the schools property. This is because creating worksheets, units, etc. is considered part of a teachers job. This concept is known as “work for hire”. If a teacher is interested in creating a book or other creation in order to sell or use for other distribution purposes, that teacher should get a written agreement with their district for the copyright. If a teacher works for their district to create a curriculum or unit of some sort, and that teacher wants copyrights or to share copyright for this creation, the teacher should sign a contract with the district agreeing to do this.

Simpson, C. (2005). Copyright for schools: A practical guide. (4th ed.). Worthington, Ohio: Linworth Publishing, Inc.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

How do I register my work with the Copyright Office?

In order to register your work with the Copyright Office, you should visit The copyright office’s website is easy follow, and will lead you through the steps you need to take in order to register your work.

The Copyright Office’s contact information is listed below.

U.S. Copyright Office
101 Independence Avenue SE
Washington, DC 20559-6000
(202) 707-3000

In order to email any questions that you have to the Copyright Office, visit the following website:

When do I need to register to copyright something that I have created?

Once you have created some type of work that is in “tangible form”, you have automatically been granted the protection of copyright. Simpson, describes ”tangible form” as a work that is written on paper, painted on a canvas, saved to disk, recorded on tape, exposed on film, or has used any other method that creates a permanent record of the creation (p 21). As long as there is a record of your work your work has been copyrighted.

However, if you believe that your work is something that could be taken from you, or that your copyrights may be violated, you should register your work.

In order to sue for damages should your copyrights be infringed, your work MUST be registered with the Copyright Office.

Simpson, C. (2005). Copyright for schools: A practical guide. (4th ed.). Worthington, Ohio: Linworth Publishing, Inc.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

What rights do you have as a copyright holder?

Copyright holders hold 6 basic rights: reproduction, adaptation, distribution, public performance, public display, and digital transmission of sound recordings (Simpson, 2005).
  • As Simpson explains, reproduction of a work is the basic right in regards to copyright. Reproducing parts of a work, or creating something very similar to the original, could still lead to copyright infringement (p. 17).
  • Adaptation is the process of changing a work. For example, if you write a book, and it is turned into a play, you as the copyright holder still have ownership of the play. Adaptation of a work is a common occurrence in the school systems, as teachers may ask students to write a new ending to a story, create a play of a story, or use a character to write a new story. While these activities are not illegal, the works would belong to the original copyright owner (p. 17).
  • As a copyright holder, one would have the right to distribute their material as he or she sees fit. (p. 17)
  • Any type of public performance of a work is under the direction of the copyright owner. This could include a “work of film, video, dance, theatre, music, etc.” (p. 19). Public is defined as a group of people outside of your immediate family and friends. (p 19-20)
  • A copyright holder has the right to display or not display the works they created. (p. 20)
  • The newest right of copyright holders is the right to the digital transmission of sound recordings. This protects record companies from having audio copied illegally.(p. 20)

Simpson, C. (2005). Copyright for schools: A practical guide. (4th ed.). Worthington, Ohio: Linworth Publishing, Inc.