What is Copyright? Copyright is a scary word to a lot a people. Copyright laws can get people and teachers in trouble if we aren’t being careful. So lets define what Copyright is so we can better prepare ourselves. Copyright is a LEGAL right given to the creator of any video, movie, sheet music, paper, book, or any other form of media that prohibits anyone who does not pay for rights or material to use or show that persons work to anyone other then themselves.

There are four tests used to determine if the material use are using is fair use,

  • what is the purpose of the use? will it be used in a non-profit educational setting?
  • what is the nature of the work you are using? Is it real or made up? Has it been published or not? (Facts are not protected by copyright laws)
  • How much of the work are you using? ( A rule of thumb is 10% or about 3 minuets which ever is less)
  • How would this effect the creator of this work? Would they loose money if everyone copied all of the work?

The type of media you use matters on how much you can use with out infringing of copyright laws. Lets assume you have a single copy of a world map and you need each of your students to have a copy, you are allowed to copy that map once and only once for each student with out infringing on copyright laws. Now lets talk about videos and audio tapes, you may play the whole thing as long as it is directly related to the lesson you are giving, even if the video says “home use only.” There are other rules for other types of media so before showing or using in your classroom make sure you know how much of what you can use so you aren’t breaking any laws.


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