General Issues
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Copyright &
Intellectual Property Issues

Issues relative to copyright, intellectual property and fair use policies have changed dramatically with the proliferation of Internet access and mulitmedia educational initiatives. Educators need to be aware of current mandates and legal implications to protect themselves and their work. Although no clear consensus has been reached, there are some common sense practices that should be adopted.

It is important to understand that copyright issues can be economic in nature (rights to obtain commercial benefit) or moral (the right to claim authorship, require the author's name be indicated by others using the work, the right to retain control over how a work is used and to oppose the defamation of work).

Typically, student and teacher use of publicly accessible information and resources fall under the umbrella of "Fair Use Guidelines" recommended to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1996. As such, copyrighted materials may be used in teacher or student created projects developed specifically for use in an educational setting. This does not give carte blanche to "borrow" or create "dirative works" without consideraton of the original author.

Here are some practical issues to consider:

  • Credit all sources and display a copyright notice, (C), for all works
  • Notice and respect use restrictions specified by the author
  • Annotate alterations you make to another's work
  • Understand that whether or not an author has obtained a copyright for his/her work, it is considered copyrighted and protected
  • If you grant a work as Public Domain (PD), you forfeit all economic or moral rights
  • Derivative work; based on or derived from another, copyrighted work; still falls under the province of the original author
  • There are time, copying and distribution limits  that must be respected

We must teach students how to properly credit the author of work they use. This skill follows the same priniciples of citing references from written text. The Cyber Bee has a "Copyright Workshop" to help teachers understand the implications and issues of current copyright and fair use guidelines. Also check out this article in Connected Teacher. It gives documentation samples for different types of Internet references.

Copyright: What Educator's Need To Know by Evangeline Pianfetti
Conference on Fair Use
Connected Teacher
Copyright Legislation

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