Copyright and free use has become increasingly complex and confusing. Recently educational leaders have convened to sort out the confusion and look at the laws written concerning copyright. Their extensive review has resulted in documentation that makes it easier for educators and students to understand their rights. The code of best practices here contains this information which is important for understanding. The shaded information below is important for you to understand.

Watch a great video here using video clips from Disney to tell the story of copyright.

Free use:
  • All federal government works fall under public domain and are free to use. I teach students to link to all material and attribute material as it is always the right thing to do.
  • creative commons licensing - anyone can use the works according to the owner's authorization
  • older works: works older than 70 years are generally free to use unless trademarked, etc.
  • Free use information can be downloaded from here

Fair use of other materials is determined on four factors:
  1. the nature of the use
  2. the nature of the work used
  3. the extent of the use
  4. its economic effect

Courts will take the following (quoted from this document) into account when determining fair use:


• Did the unlicensed use “transform” the material taken from the copyrighted work by using it for a different purpose than that of the original, or did it just repeat the work for the same intent and value as the original?
• Was the material taken appropriate in kind and amount, considering the nature of the copyrighted work and of the use?


What we are doing in class is transformative when it takes the information from a source in a new way and manner for a different purpose or work. Information must not be plagiarized. Information used should always be referenced and picture sources should always be recorded on the picture or linked (that is just common sense in establishing references).

Know what you are allowed to use concerning use of pictures. For example:

  • Creative commons pictures (which is where most pictures used should come from) should be attributed. That means that the name of the owner needs to be placed on the picture being used (or the powerpoint slide, movie frame, etc.)
  • Wikipedia pictures can be used, but a link back to the wikipedia article is required for fair use.

Here are a few good resources to use concerning copyright: