Copyright and Fair Use in the Classroom: An Introduction

By Thomas DeVere Wolsey

Working with multimedia, almost invariably, means incorporating the works of others into a presentation (see Huffman, 2010). Teachers and students do have some latitude, called Fair Use. However, it is always an effective practice to make sure that others’ intellectual properties are attributed or cited in any presentation. While there can be substantial penalties for infringing on the works created by others, the most important point, arguably, is that attributing the works of others is simply good citizenship. Creators want credit for their work, and any user is a potential creator, as well. In digital environments, creators, authors, and users take care of one another by properly attributing the sources they use. Though teachers, professors, and students are very familiar with citation of text-based sources (e.g. APA, MLA, Chicago style), these style guides often do not provide sufficient guidance when a student, for example, wants to incorporate images, audio, or video created by others in a multimedia presentation.

In this video, some general ideas related to citing video, audio, and image sources are explored, especially as they relate to presentations (using PowerPoint, Prezi, and similar formats).


An excellent place to begin learning about digital citizenship is the MediaLab at the University of Rhode Island. Teacher and student resources can be found on the Medialab website.

Though not exhaustive, these websites provide a place to begin looking for music and image sources that students and teacher might use in their own multimedia presentations while considering the rights of others who have contributed their works.

WikiMedia Commons
Creative Commons Search Tool and Creative Commons Licenses
National Gallery of Art – Open AccessJamendo
Low cost images: Dreamstime

Added March 13, 2014: Teach Students About Creative Commons: 15+ Resources – See more at: http://www.techlearning.com/Default.aspx?tabid=67&entryid=7298#sthash.vLSuk9fQ.dpuf

Explore more resources at these Delicious.com links:

Fair Use
Copyright
Plagiarism

I hope that this brief introduction leads you and your students toward the goal of better digital citizenship through attribution and citation of the intellectual property others create—a springboard to more ideas and a collaborative world.

Questions for Students and Teachers:

1. Consider the last multimedia presentation you placed online. How did you cite or otherwise attribute the digital images, audio files, or other media you incorporated?
2. How might you have more effectively cited the sources as a digital citizen to show how your own ideas built upon the ideas and creative works of others?
3. In what ways do traditional styleguides help you cite works you used? How do traditional styleguides fail to address multimedia presentations and use of images, audio, or video files in your own creative works?

References:
Huffman, S. (2010, May/June). The missing link: The lack of citations and copyright notices in multimedia presentations. TechTrends, 54(3), pp. 38-44.

Links to Traditional Styleguides:
APA
MLA
Chicago
Turabian

Creative Commons License
Copyright and Fair Use in the Classroom: An Introduction by Thomas DeVere Wolsey is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at https://literacybeat.com/about/.

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5 Responses

  1. […] Wolsey, T. D. (2013, August 14). Copyright and fair use in the classroom [blog post]. LiteracyBeat. Retrieved from  https://literacybeat.com/2013/08/14/copyright-fair-use/ […]

  2. […] it is very important that students learn the basic principles of Fair Use and apply them. This post from an earlier LiteracyBeat column may be a good start.  Learn more about Creative Commons and how it works to give students […]

  3. […] with new notes, tag the note, and share the note or the notebook with others. Be sure you consider copyright and fair use guidelines, of course, when sharing the work of […]

  4. […] list of articles to find this one), available for free from Voices from the Middle, or this post on Literacy Beat. Photographs, in particular, are often overlooked for attribution, and their creators deserve […]

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