Copyright Laws: An Educational Lens

As educators, it is essential to weave our way through the complicated copyright laws, which are further muddled by the easy accessibility of the internet and the web 2.0 generation.  In order to be good model citizens for our students, we must also be good consumers of the internet by properly citing our presentations, images, videos, etc. In addition to citing, there are other restrictions from using certain media forms at all, regardless of their accessibility on the web.  For example, a Google search yields millions of photographs, most of which can easily be downloaded.  However, if you turn on “free to use or share” under the “usage rights” advanced search, you can legally share the pictures you retrieve under this search.  For example, I searched for “Lincoln Memorial sunset” under these restrictions and retrieved the image as shown below (Melki, 2010).  This image can be used as specified under the creative commons license, as designated by Flickr.


Another important copyright clause, the Fair Use clause, aids educators in sharing information with their students without breaking the law.  The Fair Use clause, outlined in Section 107 of the U.S. Copyright Act of 1976, allows copyrighted works to be used without obtained permission for the use of teaching, research, scholarship and criticism (PBS Teachers, 2012).  Educators might also qualify for an infringement exemption under Section 110 of the Copyright Act (PBS Teachers, 2012).  The full text of the Copyright Act of 1976 can be retrieved through the U.S. Copyright Office’s website (U.S. Copyright Office, 2012).


Melki, Serge. (2010). Lincoln Memorial HDR. Retrieved on September 13, 2012 from

PBS Teachers (2012). Copyright law & fair use. Retrieved on September 15, 2012 from

U.S. Copyright Office (2012). Copyright law of the United States of America and related laws contained in Title 17 of the United States Code. Retrieved from September 15, 2012 from


One response to “Copyright Laws: An Educational Lens

  1. I agree with you that it is important for us as teachers to also properly cite and follow the copyright laws. As teachers use the internet to find images, videos, etc to supplement our presentation of material to our class so it is important that our students see us properly citing and using the material without infringing on the copyright. I think that showing students how to change the settings and search to find images that are “free to use and share” on Google or other website will allow them to search for images that they know they will be able to use. The only way these students will know about the copyright laws, what they can and cannot use, and how to find it is if we present this to them. This will aide them for their rest of their school years and even after that. This is something that unquestionably needs to be taught to all students.