Using media materials (e.g. images, audio, and video) is a crucial element in multimedia assignments, ePortfolios, websites, blogs, and more. Educators utilize articles, essays, poems, and media materials throughout their classes. However, the copyright status of any material used must be considered and this determines the media which can be used in projects.
This guide is intended to inform on copyright issues, help users navigate free media resources with mostly unrestricted copyright, and better educate patrons about why media intellectual property issues matter for educational projects and the professional world.
Copyright is a form of protection provided by the laws of the United States (Title 17, U.S. Code) to the creators of “original works of authorship,” including literary, dramatic, musical, artistic, and certain other intellectual works. This protection is available for both published and unpublished works. Section 106 of the 1976 Copyright Act generally gives the owner of copyright the exclusive right to do and to authorize others to do the following:
To reproduce the work in copies or phono records;
To prepare derivative works based upon the work;
To distribute copies of the work to the public by sale or other transfer of ownership, or by rental, lease, or lending;
To perform the work publicly, in the case of literary, musical, dramatic, and choreographic works, pantomimes, and motion pictures and other audiovisual works;
To display the copyrighted work publicly, in the case of literary, musical, dramatic, and choreographic works, pantomimes, and pictorial, graphic, or sculptural works, including the individual images of a motion picture or other audiovisual work; and
In the case of sound recordings, to perform the work publicly by means of a digital audio transmission.
In addition to copyright, certain authors of works of visual art also have the rights of attribution and integrity as described in section 106A of the 1976 Copyright Act.
It is illegal for anyone to violate any of the rights provided by the copyright law to the copyright holder.
Taken from Artists Rights Society, Copyright Basics
Fair Use is using copyrighted work under certain conditions, such as criticism, news reporting, teaching, and parody.
When thinking about fair use, it's good to ask yourself these four questions:
The US Copyright Office has created online circulars in order to provide information to the public about copyright issues. The information below is summarized from Circ. 21, Reproduction of Copyrighted Works by Educators and Librarians.
In 1976, the Agreement on Guidelines for Classroom Copying in Not-For-Profit Educational Institutions with respect to books and periodicals was created to provide some formalized suggestions for the use of copyrighted material in educational settings. These guidelines operate around concepts of brevity, spontaneity, and cumulative effect, summarized as:
Creative Commons is a nonprofit organization that enables the sharing and use of creativity and knowledge through free legal tools. There are many reasons why Creative Commons is one of the best places to get photographs for multimedia work.
Their free, easy-to-use copyright licenses provide a simple, standardized way to give the public permission to share and use your creative work — on conditions of your choice. CC licenses let you easily change your copyright terms from the default of “all rights reserved” to “some rights reserved.”
Creative Commons licenses are not an alternative to copyright. They work alongside copyright and enable you to modify your copyright terms to best suit your needs.
Creative Commons also has a great search engine for openly licensed images, video, and more.