CopyRight In-Service

500px, (2014). Symmetry. [Image] Available at: [Accessed 1 Dec. 2014]

What is copyright?

Copyright is a law given to owners of original pieces of work, which might include text, photos, videos, music, or software. This law was developed to the owners rights to their own hard work and ensure that no one else had the ability to alter their work.

There are six rights provided to the copyright holder that include:

1. Reproduction

2. Adaption

3. Distribution

4. Public performance

5. Public Display

6. Digital transmission of sound recordings

Any violation of these six rights would result in copyright infringement.

Copyright law does not protect works that are not original, such as facts, ideas, works that are in the public domain or works from a government agency.

(Simmons, 2010, p. 2)

Fair Use

Faden, E. (2007) A Fair(y) Use Tale. Stanford Law School Center for Internet and Society. Retrieved from

Lawmakers developed the Fair Use guidelines to ensure that owners of copyrighted material are protected, but that educators and researchers also have appropriate usage of those materials.

As teachers we are often under the impression that we are allowed to use any pictures,         graphics, text, or video simply because it is for educational use. However, that is NOT the case! While there are some permissible uses of these items, we MUST be careful about following fair use guidelines.

(Simmons, 2010, p. 35-36)

Four Factor Test

The Four Factor Test was developed to help educators determine if their use of a copyrighted work is legal and fair to use under current Copyright Law.

The Four Factor Test is as follows:

Factor #1 - Purpose and character of use

Is this use for a nonprofit school? Will the use be for criticism, commentary, or news reporting? For us, we can obviously answer yes to the first question. However, you may not be able to do so for the second. However, that does not mean that you are automatically out of the game. There are still three other factors to consider.

Factor #2 - Nature of copyrighted material

Is the content factual or creative in nature? An example would be is the content from a literary work or was it a research article found on the library database. Also, is the work published or not published?

Factor #3 - Amount of work used

The obvious question here is how much of the content will you be using. A general rule of thumb is that you can not use an entire work that has been copyrighted. For instance, you may choose to use an excerpt from a chapter in a novel that you are reading in class. However, it would not be wise to make a copy of an entire novel that the library does not have to check out in order to share it with students.

Factor #4 - Effect of use on market for or value of work

Something to consider on this last factor is what relevance would your use of the content have on the original work's value effect the copyright holder. If your use would essentially hurt the copyright owner in the area of sales or distribution, then your use might not be deemed favorable.

Each of the four factors can be thought of like weights on a scale. We don't have to automatically "give up" if the answer to one of the questions is unfavorable. We must ask ourselves all four of the questions and determine which was the scale is leaning. For example,

For more help on Fair Use or for examples of favorable answers in each of the areas of the test, please visit the Copyright Crash Course created by the University of Texas at Austin.

An example of the Four Factor Test:

Before any lesson using someone else's content you should first ask yourself the questions from above about it's use to determine whether or not the use is fair.

Let's say that you would like to use an entire selection of "The Unknown Soldier" by The Doors to your class as an introduction to a study on the Vietnam War.

Is the use for a non-profit school? Yes. Will the use be for criticism, commentary, or news reporting? More than likely, no.

Is the use factual or creative? Creative. Is the use published or not published? Published

How much of the work will be used? The entire selection

What effect will the use have on the value of the work? Most likely, this will not have an effect on it's value.

According to the answers, the use does not seem to truly pass the four factor test and should not be used in this manner.

Example #2

For a lesson on story elements, you want to show a 3 minute video clip of a movie you have checked out of the library to discuss settings. Your students will then write a paragraph to describe the setting in this clip.

Is this use for a non-profit school? Yes. Will the use be for criticism, commentary, or news reporting? No.

Is the use factual or creative? Creative. Is the use published or not published? Published

How much of the work will be used? A small portion of the video

What effect will the use have on the value of the work? This particular use will not have an effect on the market value of the content.

This use would be an appropriate and fair to use for this purpose.

(Simmons, 2010, p. 38-42)


When thinking of print in the area of copyright law, one should keep in mind any type of text or graphic. These are two areas that many teachers may not be familiar with when it comes to the laws that we are bound by.

The following slideshow will provide you with the details to help you in the area of print.

(Simmons, 2010. p, 48-57, 59, 65-66)

Computer Software

Giphy, (2014). [image] Available at: [Accessed 1 Dec. 2014].

Most software is generally covered by a license even though it is also copyright protected. When we make software purchases for each campus or the district level, that software is accompanied by a license agreement.

Please make sure you have read the agreements and avoid from violating the policies that we are bound to. For instance, if we purchase a software with an agreement to cover the 25 computers in our elementary lab, we are NOT allowed to also download that software on any classroom computers or a computer in the library. This would be a form of piracy, which is illegally copying the software.

When we purchase or sign up for online software, it is very important to read the licensing agreement before accepting to the terms of use. Some ways that we might be held responsible for copyright infringement as it pertains to software are:

1. Installing software on multiple devices even though you rights to download didn't include that as many.

2. Putting a software on a shared network so that anyone has access to it.

3. Borrowing a copy of software to download without checking the agreement.

4. Brining software from home to use on a work computer.

One must also be careful to report such infractions. If you know of someone who has broken a copyright agreement or assisted in any way, could be liable for contributory infringement. For example, if you are a librarian and lend a copy of single-user software to a teacher to download to her classroom computers, then you also are in violation of copyright law.

It would be a great idea to keep a copy of all license agreements on file for any software that you or your department purchases. You might also want to place warning stickers on software you have purchases in regards to what your license includes. Also, refrain from using the network to store purchases software.  

(Simmons, 2010, p. 151-154, 156, 159)


When thinking of the Internet, it includes text, audio, video, and multimedia, so even though there are no set guidelines for the Internet itself, we must use all of the guidelines that are available for all of the other areas. For instance, when printing information found on the Internet, you should still consider the guidelines set forth for print. When downloading music, you should follow the guidelines for audio.

Another thing to consider is that links to a website are also protected by copyright because they are owned by the person who created the website. Copying and pasting information found on another website onto your own website or other type of text would also be considered copyright infringement.

The same rights that are protected by a copyright holder of text still apply here, which are reproduction, adaption, distribution, public performance, public display, and digital transmission. Once again, you should also use the Four Factor Test to determine if your use of the content is appropriate in the eyes of the copyright laws.

An example of appropriate use of the Internet would be to use sites that are available to educators for the purpose of classroom use, such as Teacher Tube or iTunes U. These sites allow teachers to use their content for lessons without having to download anyone else's work. Before using these resources, you should still make sure you check the terms of service.

Something you wouldn't want to do is download a worksheet you have found on another teacher's website and use it as your own. You should first ask the other teacher for permission before using the worksheet or making any changes to her document.

(Simmons, 2010, p. 131-133)



(Simmons, 2010, p. 106, 109, 120)


(Simmons, 2010, p. 73-74, 77-79, 120)

Educators that chooses to violate copyright law, unknowingly or not, they could face finds that range up to $150,000 in fines per instance of violation. For violations of software copyright, the fines could go up to $250,000 per violation. Even for someone who violates the law unknowingly the minimum fine for each infraction could be $200 in fines.

Remember that administrators can also be held liable for teachers or staff members on their campus that break the law as well. It's even possible that if a teacher commits such acts, the district would also be fined or sued. Once a teacher creates something such as a multimedia presentation, it becomes the property of the school district. This means that they are now the owners of the work and if it includes any piece of infringed work, then they too will be cited in the lawsuit or fine.

At times, it is possible that many employees of the district, including the building principal and the superintendent can also be named as responsible parties due to being the employer of the infringer. The school or district could be sued for real or actual damages. One should remember that not only are the prices of the fines steep, but the prices of court costs and attorneys, will add up as well. This is something you might want to think about before using someone else's work that is protected under Copyright Law.

(Simmons, 2010, p. 17)

Your Turn!

Fair Use or No?

We will be using these scenarios to determine which category they might fit into. You may work with a partner to decide which of your scenarios is an example of Fair Use and which of them are not. I will give each of you the scenario and then on your device we will use Kahoot! to gather your responses.


Faden, E. (2007) A Fair(y) Use Tale. Stanford Law School Center for Internet and Society. Retrieved from

Giphy, (2014). [image] Available at: [Accessed 1 Dec. 2014].

Harper, G. (2012). Copyright Crash Course: Fair Use of Copyrighted Materials. The University of Texas at Austin. Retrieved from

Simpson, C. (2010). Copyright for Schools: A Practical Guide. 5th Edition. Linworth:    Denver.

500px, (2014). Symmetry. [Image] Available at: [Accessed 1 Dec. 2014]

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