In this case study, we were asked to analyze whether or not Terry, a high school teacher, is ethically and legally permitted to use these resources and artifacts for instructional material under current copyright regulations. The notes in the attached document are my perceptions based on the course materials that have been provided in EDLD 5316 Digital Citizenship at Lamar University by Dr. Frederico Padovan, as well as my own additional research.

Generally, most of the content that Terry would hope to use would be allowable under Fair Use Guidelines. The four factors of Fair Use for published and unpublished works include: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.

In this imaginary scenario, as the district Chief Technology Officer, I would take several steps to ensure that the teachers, staff and students were using good judgment in sharing the materials digitally. This includes materials they access from print and digital resources, as well as artifacts they create. Primarily, I would ensure that annual training regarding copyright and fair use guidelines were available to staff and students. It is a common misconception that fair use implies that teachers are able to share practically anything if they are using it for educational purposes. This is not completely true. In order to protect the intellectual property rights of creators and the district population, and to raise ethical digital citizens, frequent reminders to properly credit creators is essential. This is the job of all involved; librarians, counselors, teachers, administrative and technology staff.

Campus librarians are generally the go-to copyright experts at a school. Therefore, they are an excellent resource if a there is a question about whether or not is is allowable to use certain content for instruction. Librarians and administrative staff should model the appropriate behavior for good copyright habits, which include:

  • Consulting US copyright guidelines, such as those found on the Copyright Office website.
  • Consulting the creative source of the material in question. For example, I have include on the attached document links to sharing guidelines web pages for PBS, NASA, and New York Times.
  • Citing resources whenever possible, and emphasizing that habit among students.

The case study of Mr. Rosebud and Mr. Cameron’s books, still images, supplemental material, and student videos is quite complicated with much to consider. There are many players involved in this case, including the two authors Mr. Rosebud and Mr. Cameron, the potential book publisher, the nearby college, the school district, and the students. If I were the chief technology officer at Mr. Rosebud school, I would take the most informed steps to protect the interest of Mr. Cameron, Mr. Rosebud, the school district, and the students. An obvious first step is to ensure that all of the parties involved have annual required training regarding copyright. In my opinion, the parties that need to be most protected are the students.

As adults, the co-authors Mr. Rosebud and Mr. Cameron should take the steps that they need to protect themselves. This includes any agreement that they may have with the publishing company. If they have an agreement with the publishing company, they can potentially hand over copyright ownership and royalty rights. Before they have any agreement with the publishing company, they are entitled equally to any royalties earned from the book. The co-authors of the book should register it to protect them selves and in case they ever have the need to file a case of copyright infringement.

Regarding the film stills that Mr. Cameron and Mr. Rosebud hope to use in their book, if they use only a small portion of film stills, then it is likely covered under fair use. This is because of the fair use factors regarding the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work. As the stills should fall under fair use, there is not a requirement, but Mr. Cameron and Mr. Rosebud should continue to try and get permission to use the stills and attribute credit in their book.

According to the American library association, the teach act does not authorize the distribution of books and articles. The teach act refers to performances and displaying works. The two most important facts about the book chapters distributed to students that will impact a fair use analysis are:

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.


This week in EDLD 5316, Copyrights and Copywrongs, we covered so much content! It is safe to say that copyright law is very complicated and should be taken on a case-by-case basis. I would imagine that the demand for copyright lawyers is increasing as the need for copyright registrations increase. As the ability to publish digital content increases and technology changes, so too must the rules change.

A few of the topics we reviewed this week were:

In our discussion post we reviewed the Hudson white paper and whether the US copyright office should continue to be under the auspice of the library of Congress.

After reviewing the Hudson Institute white paper, I am inclined to agree that the Copyright Office should be separated from the Library of Congress. It appears that the Copyright Office has been underfunded and overlooked in recent years, when the need for copyright is increasing. The reasons for the Copyright Office to be dependent on the Library of Congress are now outdated, as the scope of copyright includes far more digital material. As content a now able to be created by millions of people in far less time, the requests for copyright (particularly over digital material) must be staggering.

If the Copyright Office was its own entity, then it would have its own budget to allow for a faster, more effective digitized process. It does appear that in recent years, the Copyright Office is moving toward modernization. They currently have an online instant registration and claim filing system. It is interesting to read changes in the Copyright Office that have taken place most recently, throughout the pandemic. While they are still under the auspices of the Library of Congress, they do appear to be modernizing.

Additionally, we went over some definitions of copyright terms.

  • Plagiarism is defined as the act of using another person’s words or ideas without giving credit to that person. An example of plagiarism would be if I read a research article about STEM activities in libraries and copied sentences directly into a blog post without changing the language or using quotes to indicate that the words and ideas were not my own.
  • Copyright infringement occurs when a copyrighted work is reproduced, distributed, performed, publicly displayed, or made into a derivative work without the permission of the copyright owner. An example of Copyright infringement would be if I downloaded material from Monica Burns’ Easy EdTech Club, a monthly subscription service, and made the materials available to teachers in my Schoology course
  • Attribution is an explicit or formal acknowledgment of ownership or authorship. Examples of attribution would be our APA citations listed at the bottom of our discussion or blog posts and mentioning the name of an author when we are sharing their ideas.
  • Transformation is using a work of art, literature, music or video and changing it in a creative or surprising way. Parodies like Weird Al Yankovics’ Eat It are considered transformative because the modification of the original song it parodies has completely different lyrics.

In two case studies we reflected deeply upon fair use, public domain, copyright law, and Creative Commons.

The four factors of fair use 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.

Also, we had a quiz which covered multiple copyright scenarios. I earned a 96 on the quiz after lots of research!

The materials that I found most effective were the multiple videos that we accessed. I have them all listed here in a YouTube playlist.

Also, this Coursera course on copyright for Librarians and Educators was especially useful! It included videos, supplemental resources, scenarios, and quizzes.

As I progress in my career with my rich newfound knowledge of the intricacies of copyright, fair use, creative commons and public domain, I feel confident each case needs to be carefully considered individually. The best we can do is train our educators and students to give credit where it is due, cite sources, and seek permission when using the content of another creator.

Additional Resources

Columbia University Libraries Copyright Advisory Services Fair Use page – This page concisely outlines the four factors of fair use and includes a very handy fair use checklist.

The Educator’s Guide to Copyright, Fair Use, and Creative Commons – This website explains copyright concerns for educators in simple language

TEACH Act Checklist – Use this handy checklist to see if you are ready to use the TEACH Act


Image Credits:

Knowledge illustrations by Storyset

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