Copyright and Fair Use: What You Need to Know

"Can I upload" copyright flowchart

“Can I upload” copyright flowchart (Photo credit: giulia.forsythe)

Snappy title right?  Makes you think I am gonna give you the final word on what you can and can not use in your classroom or on your website or in a brochure.  Well, you are right.  It is a snappy title!

But In reality, the question of Copyright vs Fair Use is one that only attorneys and copyright holders can really answer.  In the next few paragraphs, I will share with you some links that I have found that might give you a better understanding.  They may also just leave you more confused than before.  I will also leave you a couple of links to some webinars I have participated in trying to find the answers to questions that bother me most.

I have been concerned about Copyright and fair use since the mid 80’s, when in the early days of my career, we had a lending library for business and industry.  Because we were in the education business, it seemed to be ok to transfer training films (yes, in those days they were primarily on 16mm film) to 3/4″ u-Matic tapes.  After all, it was for use in training and education.  Then the laws changed and said that you could not transfer and copy unless you had permission .  I remember we had purchased a film series and the question was what happens if the film breaks, or just wears out or gets old.  We were told we could buy a new set of films.

With the onset of low cost digitizers, it has become easier and easier for folks to DVR something off cable or satellite, then use it in the classroom.  Or rip a CD or DVD for use in the classroom.  And with Youtube and other video sharing sites popping up, software engineers have developed software to download files from the web to your desktop.  Is it legal?  That is something for you to decide.

But before you make a decision, I would ask you to please take some time and really go through these links and see what these experts have to say.  Because the last thing any of us wants to do is wind up paying a hefty fine for copyright infringement.

Links to Helpful Info


Let me just say that Creative Commons licensing is a genuinely good thing, and you can find some good music and photos and even some videos you can use for free so long as you follow the CC guidelines.  And it’s also possible if everyone were to share some of the content that we create ourselves, we could really generate a world wide library of Creative Commons licensed content that we could all use.

In closing, just remember:  Copyright infringement is illegal.  Speeding is illegal.  You are the one who has to make the call.

And as usual, comments, thoughts, and feedback are always welcome.


One thought on “Copyright and Fair Use: What You Need to Know

  1. Thank you so mutch for this Craig, I really didn’t know where to start in this pressing problem of copyright, as we can’t produce all of the content for our stories just yet. Please check our work out, rate, leave a constructive critique, and if we measure to your standards, please subscribe. Kindest regards,


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s