In the article Copyright 101, Carol Simpson explains how copyrights work. Anything tangible is copyrighted, however your school may be exempted from copyright laws on certain items. But good news, facts are always up for grabs! You may also take up to 10% of most items without infringing on copyright laws. Here are the four tests for fair use: ”

  • The purpose and character of the use. Will the materials be used non- commercially in a non profit 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 Is the work published or unpublished?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 Unpublished works have stronger protections than do published works.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”

Simpson states that educators can make single copies of some print materials. They may put in a request to make more copies,  but cannot do so unless they are approved. Teachers may also show movies that are directly related to the lesson, however I would caution against using Disney movies. Disney is very strict about enforcing copyright infringement laws. The best piece of advice is if you don’t know ask. Often your co-workers or principle will know what you can and cannot use. If you are anywhere near the copyright limit ask the publisher for permission. By doing the things previously mentioned you are protecting yourself from being prosecuted for copyright infringement.



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