Confused About Fair Use?

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Are you confused about fair use copyright law? According to a new report, you are not alone!

In an age when digital images and recordings to supplement and enhance education are abounding, unnecessary restrictions and a lack of understanding about copyright law are compromising the goal of using such technology in the classroom, says a new report. After interviewing educators, educational media producers and media-literacy organizations, the report's researchers conclude that educators have no shared understanding of what constitutes fair-use practices, and that teachers face conflicting information about their rights, and their students' rights, to use copyrighted works.

source: eSchoolNews Online - link

In my experience, most uses of copyrighted material I see at Catlin Gabel qualify as fair use. You are in the clear if you meet the following four conditions.

  1. You are using the material for educational use. We nearly always meet this criterion.
  2. The work is already published, nonfiction, and serves an educational purpose in your class. Copying fiction is less likely to be considered fair use.
  3. You are using a relatively small portion of the complete work. In other words, don't copy an entire book or magazine!
  4. Your use does not preclude you or your audience from purchasing the work. This is why we have a password-protected community web site. Also, student performance of a copyrighted work will not generally preclude a person from purchasing a professional copy of that work.

Here are three more useful links:

Stanford Copyright & Fair Use: The Four Factors


Documentary Filmmakers' Statement of Best Practices in Fair Use

Copyright & You: Fair Use Checklists