Copyright: What You Need to Know • Bibliographies
Copyright resources

Teaching Copyright

These resources were created by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) in response to a 2006 California law  requiring schools that accept technology funding to educate students about copyright, plagiarism, and the basics of Internet safety. EFF surveyed tools directed at K-12 students at the time and found that most relied on inaccurate generalizations about technology and law and focused on drilling students on the prohibitions of copyright. EFF took the opportunity “to fill in the gap by developing an honest, accurate, and balanced curriculum that would help students understand and exercise their digital rights and responsibilities. Working with educators from around the country, we aimed to design a fun and flexible plan that would not just provide information, but also help foster basic skills in research, writing, and critical thinking."


Copyright for K-12

Ball State University provides a number of resources intended to assist the K-12 environment in determining how to use someone else’s copyrighted materials properly or to assist in finding free resources for educational use and academic achievement.  Resources include guides for addressing copyright in the classroom, sites providing royalty-free materials for students, tools for teaching online, links to additional readings, and more.


Creative Commons

Creative Commons is a nonprofit organization that enables the sharing and use of creativity and knowledge through free legal tools.  Its intent is to make it easy for creators who want their works to be used by others to make them available, and for those who wish to find works they can use without paying licensing fees to do so.  Creative Commons provides the infrastructure for creators to publish their works online subject to a CC License, in which the creator chooses which rights she wishes to license to users (e.g, for any educational use).  In turn, users know by looking at a CC license (attached to the online work as an icon) how they may use the work, without having to contact anyone.


Agreement on Guidelines for Classroom Copying in Not-For-Profit Education Institutions With Respect to Books and Periodicals

The "Classroom Copying Guidelines" are the result of negotiations between representatives of copyright owners, such as publishers, and representatives of users of protected works, such as the American Library Association. The stated purpose of these guidelines is to "state the minimum standards for educational fair use." They suggest the minimal amount of copying that would be allowed under fair use for use in teaching or preparation for teaching and for use in the classroom. Keep in mind that the guidelines are not meant to limit permissible copying; copying beyond that described in the guidelines may meet fair use.


Conference on Fair Use (CONFU)  Guidelines (use of multimedia)

The CONFU guidelines are the result of failed attempts at negotiating guidelines that would go beyond the classroom copying guidelines and apply to the use of multimedia in educational and other contexts.  Although no agreement was reached on what should constitute a minimal of fair use in these situations, the last report – basically, where things were left when the parties admitted their inability to agree – was published as “guidelines.”  It is important to keep the lack of agreement in mind; users thought the guidelines were overly restrictive, and copyright owners thought they were giving away too much.


The Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Media Literacy Education

This document, prepared by the Center for Media and Social Impact, identifies five principles that represent the media literacy education community’s current consensus about acceptable practices for the fair use of copyrighted materials, wherever and however it occurs: in K–12 education, in higher education, in nonprofit organizations that offer programs for children and youth, and in adult education.  For each situation presented, an explanation of how fair use applies generally is given as well as limitations that educators can follow to strengthen their fair use case.


Statement of the Fair Use of Images for Teaching, Research, and Study

This document, prepared by the Visual Resources Association, addresses the use of still images for teaching, research, study, and the incorporation of images into dissertations and theses (and the subsequent inclusion of those dissertations and theses in databases that help facilitate access to, and preserve, those academic works). It presents six different types of uses.  For each, it provides background, a statement of principle, and several specific suggestions of how educators can “best position themselves to assert fair use.


Code of Best Practices in Fair Use in Academic and Research Libraries

Although directed at academic libraries, this tool is valuable for K-12 educators as well.  It presents eight types of uses (most of which are directly applicable to K-12) and for each provides background, a statement of principle, and then limitations and enhancements – steps that educators can take to strengthen their fair use argument in that situation.  It is valuable to K-12 educators not only because the specific tips provided are often applicable, but also because its approach provides an excellent tool for helping educators at all levels better understand the subtleties of fair use.

MLA Citation McCord, Gretchen. "Copyright: What You Need to Know: Copyright resources." School Library Connection, September 2015,

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Entry ID: 1980556

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