Copyright and Education

    What is"Fair Use"?


    Copyright law allows portions of a copyrighted work to be used for specific educational purposes. This is referred to as"fair use."  Hand replicating a cartoon character for a bulletin board is not necessary for learning and is not protected by fair use copyright. Handing out a photocopied comic strip for analysis is instructional (you are adding educational benefit) and would be protected under copyright law if you have written permission from the publisher.


    Media Allowable Portion for Fair Use


    Motion media (e.g., video)

    Up to 10% or 3 minutes, whichever is


    Text material

    Up to 10% or 1000 words, whichever is


    Music, Lyrics, Music Video

    Up to 10%, but no more than 30


    Illustrations, Photographs

    No more than 5 images from an

    artist/photographer, or no more than

    10% or 15 works from a published

    collective work.


    Posting Course Materials Online

       Any portion of original work that is copied or distributed online must be obtained legally.  You must have written permission from the Publisher. The copying and distribution limitations are most restrictive regarding remote instruction (no Schoolwires webpages, but secure online learning management systems, for example Moodle,   Wikispaces). Distribution must be limited to students enrolled in the course and there must be "technological limitations on access to the network and educational copy“ (such as a login, password, or PIN).


    The Public Domain
    Informally, the public domain consists of works that are publicly available.  But, just because you can access another's work online, does not mean you have the right to copy and use it.
    Items do not go into the public domain until:


    Type of Work

    Copyright Term

    What was in the Public Domain as of January 1, 2014 ?

    Works of Writing

    Life of the author plus 70 years

    Works from authors that died before 1944

    Works Made for Hire-

    Corporate Authorship

    120 years from date of creation

    Works created before 1894

    Works Published Abroad

    95 years after publication date

    Works published abroad before 1919

    U.S. Federal Government Publications


    All in the Public Domain

    For Further Information
    1. Copyright and Fair Use Guidelines for Teachers by Technology and Learning
            Suggested Use: Reference document posted at each school copier/printer
    2. Fair Use Checklist by Kenneth D. Crews, Director of the Copyright Advisory Office,
        Columbia Universitiy Libraries
               Suggested Use: Checklist to help determine if copyright infringement is Fair Use
               Suggested Use: Reference guide to help find and correctly attribute public domain and creative commons images for your project or presentation
    4. "Fair Use Presentation"  a PowerPoint created by CR Librarians 
              Suggested Use: Faculty/Staff presentation
    5. Script for Fair Use Presentation for Fair Use PowerPoint
              Suggested Use: Faculty/Staff presentation