Saturday, October 11, 2008

Copyright Guidelines for Schools

Many of us are teachers. As teachers, the belief is often that if materials will help our students learn, then we are able to use it. This is not always the case. Educational use is not a free pass to unlimited copying. To understand what materials are permissible, we must look at a set of guidelines that give us a rule of thumb to turn to when using materials. These guidelines are called the fair use policy. Schools must consider these guidelines when using material that is not theirs. They are us follows:
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 if the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole.
4. The effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.

So, what does this mean to schools? Well, as a school, the nature of the use is for a nonprofit, educational purpose. We must also look at how much of the material is going to be used. Guidelines are in place to help schools know what is appropriate and what is not. I am going to be going into that in future postings. Teachers must also decide if the use of the material in the classroom will cut back on the author's profits. If it will, it is not fair use. Finally, copyright is not something that can be ignored. With so many lawsuits going on, schools must ensure that they are on the safe side. When in doubt, it is better to use less material than more. It is going to be my goal to make it easier to understand how we can maintain copyright within our schools.

Simpson, C. (2005). Copyright for schools, A pratical guide (4th ed.). Worthington, OH: Linsworth.


Brandy said...

I agree that copyright and fair use can be very confusing and intimidating, however I believe as stated by Simpson in our Copyright for Schools book when she stated on page 47 that, "It is important to always press for the maximum permitted use, since those rights not used will eventually erode away."

Brandi W. said...


That is a very good point. It is a tough decision to make when it comes to how much information we can use. Do we take the risk of overstepping the line when pushing for maximum use, or do we avoid that by minimizing the amount of information we use? What does anyone else think?

Cyndy said...

I would think it would be hard for us to know if we are crossing the line since we might not know exactly where the line is drawn. Everyone may have slightly different interpretations of the copyright laws and what is permissable. I suppose we will have to stay in our comfort level as to our interpretation of where that line is. Maybe also think it through so that we would be able to explain ourselves well if asked why we thought the use was permissable.