Implications for Educators

Guidelines for Intellectual Property in the Classroom
Education, Copyright, and the Internet
An Example of a School District's Policy
Fair Use


Lifelong learning has emerged as a major challenge in today's changing world. Learning does not end when one leaves school and that the educational experience must continue for both adults and students if they want to continue their growth and exploration. As our generation approaches the next century, it must be kept in mind that our society is changing into one with unlimited knowledge and information. Teachers are faced with new opportunities and new challenges in all dimensions of our teaching. The area of technology is one that is growing limitlessly. We all must focus on making technological learning a part of our own lives so that it can be incorporated into the teaching of our students. Teachers need to learn how to think, create, work, and collaborate in new ways in order to properly integrate the use of technology into their teaching.

Teaching and learning are dependent on existing knowledge. Students must use existing knowledge to help them construct new knowledge. They build their base of knowledge by researching information and incorporating the ideas of others into their own work. Every student should know that researching information and incorporating the ideas of others into their own work is an appropriate activity. This is how society has built its base of knowledge. It is important for students to learn to give credit where credit is due and not try to pass off anyone else's work as their own. Teaching and learning about Plagiarism and Copyright is one of the most important steps. Students must be taught that plagiarism is taking writings or ideas from another person and trying to pass them on as their original ideas. Plagiarism has always been considered wrong, and with the use of the Internet, it is happening even more. It is very easy to cut and paste writings and ideas that belong to other people and to place them into documents of their own with out giving the proper credit.

Guidelines for Intellectual Property in the Classroom

Students need to learn as much as they can about the Internet - The World Wide Web before they can truly understand it. It is only after acquiring some of the general knowledge about the Internet that a student can truly understand intellectual property, learn what copyright is, and that plagiarism is wrong. When students use the works of others, it is also important that they use the guidelines of the "fair use doctrine" of copyright law.

When searching the Internet for information it is often easy to focus in on the ideas and not cite the sources of the ideas. Backtracking to find the source can be difficult. It is important that teachers help students to understand this difficulty and help them in using a system to keep track and cite their sources. Students also need to be taught that when they are "surfing" the Web, that it is not easy tell which sites are reliable with accurate information. It is easy for students to loose their focus and become distracted by the vast amount of information and ideas and forget to note the sources from which they have obtained the information. Since evaluating and backtracking are very difficult, it is imperative that students understand this and that they have assistance in developing some efficient approaches to both.

The ABC Guidelines for Intellectual Property


Education, Copyright, and the Internet

There are some areas where the extent of copyright protection for material on the Internet is very unclear. Much of the material on the Internet, including messages and material on Web sites, is protected by copyright. Most people do not specifically grant permission to copy and distribute their material, but the common practice and understanding of people on the Internet is that a message posted to a public group can be freely distributed. Technically, to even retrieve a document through the Web requires copying and distributing. Unfortunately, most copyright owners are silent as to their intentions with their works. The "fair use doctrine" provides a limited basis by which people can use a copyrighted work without getting permission from the creator. The essence of the fair use doctrine is that a person is not using the work in such a manner that is, or has, the potential of diverting income from the creator. One of the rationales for the fair use doctrine is the immediacy of the need for the use of the material and the difficulty in contacting the owner of the copyright for permission. However, the ease with which one can communicate directly with the owner of a work on the Internet may begin to restrict the use of the fair use doctrine.

Today, copying written material is quick and easy. Using a browser, file transfer, copying and even publishing a web page requires little technological expertise. This can be done by many K-12 students from sources all over the Internet. Technology is very exciting, but with this excitement must come an understanding of not only the laws but also the rights and obligations when dealing with copyright materials. As technology continues to develop we need to be reminded that the generally held but erroneous belief that any copying "for educational purposes" is permissible. As noted throughout this paper this is definitely not true.

Internet material includes such things as e-mail, bulletin boards, gopher files, and web pages. Intellectual Property is an idea or innovation that is created or discovered by a person. These include things that are written, designed, invented, sung, spoken, drawn, and sculptured. These "works" are at times grouped by categories, such as: literary, dramatic, musical, artistic, film, sound recording, broadcast, and published editions. Computer programs and software qualify as "literary works" too. Certain exclusive rights are granted to the copyright owner in each of these categories. To Copy or Not to Copy - That is the Question Intellectual property can be created by you or you can pay someone to create it for you. Intellectual property is something that cost someone some effort to bring into existence, and it often isn't something the creator wants to give away for free. Different forms of protection for intellectual property include trade secrets, patents, trademarks and copyright laws. Each of these laws covers a specific type of intellectual property. These things are just as protected by copyright as printed books.

Copyright laws are based on the premise that people should have the right to compensation for their creative works because compensation encourages more creative works. A creative work is automatically protected by copyright from the moment of creation. No copyright notice or registration is required. There are some materials which are not protected by copyright, either because the copyright has expired or because the author has expressly stated that he or she wishes to place the material in the "public domain". "Public domain" is the status of a work that is not protected by copyright because the creator has clearly given up all copyright rights or the copyright has expired. Since a notice is not required, publishing a work without a notice is not a relinquishment of copyright rights.

The owner of a copyright has the right to copy, modify, distribute, display and perform the work. The owner can grant other people permission, called a license, to use any of these rights. Permission to copy and distribut does not mean permission to modify or sell. Transferring a work in the form of digital data from one computer system to another is copying and distributing that work.

The "fair use doctrine" allows a limited way in which people can use a copyrighted work without getting permission from the creator. The basis of the fair use doctrine is that a person is not using the work in such a manner that is diverting income from the creator. One of the rationales for the fair use doctrine is the immediacy of the need for the use of the material and the difficulty in contacting the owner of the copyright for permission.

Sometimes people assume that using a small quantity of a work for any purpose is "fair use" and that they can thus include the small quantity in something that they are writing. Once you copy any of it you do infringe the copyright in that work. When using the "fair use" clauses, which permit users to copy limited amounts of a work for their own personal research or study, it is important to understand that "fair use" is based on the type of use rather than the amount copied. Only the courts can decide whether a particular use of a copyrighted work falls within the fair use exemption.

The application of fair use of copyrighted works as teaching methods are in part already being adapted to these new learning environments. Educators have traditionally brought copyrighted books, videos, slides, sound recordings and other media into the classroom, along with accompanying projection and playback equipment. Multimedia creators integrated these individual instructional resources with their own original works in a meaningful way, providing compact educational tools that allow great flexibility in teaching and learning.


An Example of a School District's Policy

Intellectual property with the use of technology, and its implications on education is the responsibility of each school and/or district. Springfield Public School District 186 is in the process of upgrading their Internet, Multimedia, and Fair Use Policy at this time. Many of the rules and regulations that are in place now are becoming outdated as the Internet is providing more educational opportunities. In the past, the district's policy was more on managing sites rather than "fair use" and taking intellectual property from the Internet and placing it into other works. The rules and regulations in the past centered around such things as copying sheet music and software. The use of the Internet web sites and how they will be used in instruction will be a major focus in the new guidelines as well as the use of copyrighted information obtained from the Internet.

Springfield Public School District 186 is in the process of writing their new policy with the first part being a student piece that will be put into place at the beginning of 1999-2000 school year. This will include a policy for the use of computing and networking resources. The district will be using the FAIR USE GUIDELINES FOR EDUCATIONAL MULTIMEDIA to help formulate needed changes in their Administrative Rules and Regulations documents for District 186.

The district policy will also states that if the intellectual property is developed with school resources (both time and equipment) it is the property of the School District and any copyright or revenues will come to the district. The District has used this policy with several projects that they have developed and sold commercially.

If any of the 38 district sites were to be suspected of copyright violations, action would be taken immediately. This action would start by notifying the administrator/principal. They would then be asked to speak to the personnel/students involved. The Director of Technology for Springfield Public School would be present, if needed , to provide guidance. The problem would then be corrected through the existing system. If students were involved then we would work with the principal, teacher and parents to insure compliance. All necessary steps would be taken to remove the illegal product from the system. As a last resort there would be a consultation with the district's attorney.

Communication of this information will be shared with students and parents through the Student Discipline Handbook. New Teachers' Workshops, teacher inservices & meetings lead by the administrators and the computer facilitators will provide informational classes & handouts for all district staff. Professional Development & Training Programs such as Project LINCOL'N are also made available for interested teachers.

Districts and schools should keep in mind that all educators and students should have guidelines and policies and should be aware of the fact that there are existing copyright laws which are always in effect. In the area of Intellectual Property, the responsibility begins with educating ourselves and others. Education is a crucial component of efforts to enforce copyright law on-line just as with written materials. The best advice that can be given is, when anyone is in doubt about what they can or can not do, the person should look for guidance and help from administrators, the Director of Technology, and/or technology facilitators. The Educator's Copyright Survival Guide is also an excellent resource.


Fair Use


Fair use is a legal principle that defines the limitations on the exclusive rights of copyright holders. The purpose of these guidelines is to provide guidance on the application of fair use principles by educators, scholars and students. For the purpose of these guidelines educators include faculty, teachers, instructors, and others who engage in scholarly, research and instructional activities for educational institutions. Fair use (used according to the Copyright Act of 1976) is not considered an infringement of copyright. Fair use includes copying for purposes such as news reporting, teaching, research, and comments and criticisms. While copyright gives the owner exclusive rights to their work, the Copyright Act of 1976 sets forth several important exceptions to those rights. One such exception is the fair use statute.


The full text of the fair-use statute from the U.S. Copyright Act:

Section 107 of the Copyright Act of 1976. Limitations on exclusive rights:

Fair use

Notwithstanding the provisions of sections 106 and 106A, the fair use of a copyrighted work, including such use by reproduction in copies or phono records or by any other means specified in that section, for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research, is not an infringement of copyright.

In determining whether the use made of a work in any particular case is a fair use the factors to be considered shall include --

1. the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes;

2. the nature of the copyrighted work;

3. the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and

4. the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.

The fact that a work is unpublished shall not itself bar a finding of fair use if such finding is made upon consideration of all the above factors.

The purpose of the following guidelines is to state the minimum and not maximum standards of educational fair use under Section 107 of H.R. 2223. The parties agree that the conditions determining the extent of permissible copying for educational purposes may change in the future: that certain types of copying permitted under these guidelines may not be permissible in the future; and conversely that in the future other types of copying not permitted under these guidelines may be permissible under revised guidelines. There may be instances in which copying which does not fall within the guidelines stated below may nonetheless be permitted under the criteria of fair use. Guidelines from Reproduction of Copyrighted Works by Educators and Librarians,The Copyright Act of October 19, 1976 , []


I. Single Copying for Teachers

A single copy may be made of any of the following by or for a teacher at his or her individual request for his or her scholarly research or use in teaching or preparation to teach a class

A. A chapter from a book;

B. An article from a periodical or newspaper;

C. A short story, short essay or short poem, whether or not from a collective work;

D. A chart, graph, diagram, drawing, cartoon or picture from a book, periodical, or newspaper;

II. Multiple Copies for Classroom Use

Multiple copies (not to exceed in any event more than one copy per pupil in a course) may be made by or for the teacher giving the course for classroom use or discussion; provided that:

A. The copying meets the tests of brevity and spontaneity as defined below; and,

B. Meets the cumulative effect test as defined below; and,

C. Each copy includes a notice of copyright




(i) Poetry: (a) A complete poem if less than 250 words and if printed on not more than two pages or, (b) from a longer poem, an excerpt of not more than 250 words.

(ii) Prose: (a) Either a complete article, story or essay of less than 2,500 words, or (b) an excerpt from any prose work of not more than 1,000 words or 10% of the work, whichever is less, but in any event a minimum of 500 words.

[Each of the numerical limits stated in "i" and "ii" above may be expanded to permit the completion of an unfinished line of a poem or of an unfinished prose paragraph.]

(iii) Illustration: One chart, graph, diagram, drawing, cartoon or picture per book or per periodical issue.

(iv) "Special" works: Certain works in poetry, prose or in "poetic prose" which often combine language with illustrations and which are intended sometimes for children and at other times for a more general audience fall short of 2,500 words in their entirety. Paragraph "ii" above notwithstanding such "special works" may not be reproduced in their entirety; however, an excerpt comprising not more than two of the published pages of such special work and containing not more than 10% of the words found in the text thereof, may be reproduced.


(i) The copying is at the instance and inspiration of the individual teacher, and

(ii) The inspiration and decision to use the work and the moment of its use for maximum teaching effectiveness are so close in time that it would be unreasonable to expect a timely reply to a request for permission.

Cumulative Effect

(i) The copying of the material is for only one course in the school in which the copies are made.

(ii) Not more than one short poem, article, story, essay or two excerpts may be copied from the same author, nor more than three from the same collective work or periodical volume during one class term.

(iii) There shall not be more than nine instances of such multiple copying for one course during one class term.

[The limitations stated in "ii" and "iii" above shall not apply to current news periodicals and newspapers and current news sections of other periodicals.]


III. Prohibitions as to I and II Above

Notwithstanding any of the above, the following shall be prohibited:

(A) Copying shall not be used to create or to replace or substitute for anthologies, compilations or collective works. Such replacement or substitution may occur whether copies of various works or excerpts therefrom are accumulated or reproduced and used separately.

(B) There shall be no copying of or from works intended to be "consumable" in the course of study or of teaching. These include workbooks, exercises, standardized tests and test booklets and answer sheets and like consumable material.

(C) Copying shall not:

(a) substitute for the purchase of books, publishers" reprints or periodicals;

(b) be directed by higher authority;

(c) be repeated with respect to the same item by the same teacher from term to term.

(D) No charge shall be made to the student beyond the actual cost of the photocopying.


Agreed March 19, 1976.


Ad Hoc Committee on Copyright Law Revision: By Sheldon Elliott Steinbach.

Author-Publisher Group:
Authors League of America: By Irwin Karp, Counsel.
Association of American Publishers, Inc.: By Alexander C. Hoffman, Chairman, Copyright Committee.


The law provides no clear and direct answers about the scope of fair use and its changing needs and circumstances. Each of the four factors needs to be weighed. If the factors lean in favor of fair use then it is allowed. If the answers do not fit under the fair use exception than permission from the copyright owner is needed. The most easy answer may be "if in doubt--get permission from the copyright owner".

Back to Title Page
To Resources for Educators

Janeen McCarthy

Revised 7/02
Allison Drew 

Sources & Resources:

10 Big Myths About Copyright Explained, Brad Templeton ,
[], (April, 1999).

Fair Use Guidelines for Multimedia
[], (March, 1999).

Educator's Guide to Citing Sources

Virtual Internet Tour
[] This site provides a basic introduction to the Web, Chat Rooms and gives tours, tutorials and guides to acquaint Internet surfers to all avenues on the Internet and World Wide Web. It doesn't matter if you're getting online, chatting, email or creating your own home page, this site have a tour for you!

To Copy or Not to Copy - That is the Question
Guidelines for Off-Air Recording of Broadcast Programming for Education Purposes
General Rules of the Law for Educational Photocopying
General Guidelines for CD-ROM's And Computer Software
The Internet and Copyright Fair Use Guidelines for Multimedia
Copyright Guidelines for Music
The Fair Use Test

Avoiding Plagiarism

Sample regulations ,

Glatt Plagiarism Services ,
[], software for detecting and deterring plagiarism

You need a crash course incopyright... ,

Copyright and Fair Use


Fair Use Guidelines for Educational Multimedia ,

Copyright Guidelines for Music ,

Copy-Cats, Copyright & Clones

A researcher discusses her difficulties and experiences with plagiarism and copyright infringement.

Copyright Issues on the Web
Discusses definitions and of relationships between plagiarism, copyright, and fair use on the Internet.

Jonassen, David H. (1996). Computers In The Classroom, Mindtools for Critical
Thinking. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, Inc.

Garner, Ruth and Gillingham, Mark G. (1996). Internet Communication in Six Classrooms: Conversations Across Time, Space, and Culture.
Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Michael R. and Thompson, Ann. (1997). Educational Computing Foundations.
Upper Saddle River, JN: Prentice-Hall, Inc.

Forcier, Richard C. (1996). The Computer as a Productivity Tool in Education.
Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, Inc.

Newby, Timothy J., Stepich, Donald A., Lehman, James D. and Russell, James D. (1997).
Instructional Technology for Teaching and Learning. W.Lafayette, IN: Prentice-Hall, Inc.