What is Copyright and Fair Use as they apply to education?

Center for Social Media at American University along with the Media Lab at Temple University has done a great deal of work recently trying to document a code of best practices for educators using media literacy. This guide includes five principles that represent the media literacy education community’s current consensus about acceptable practices for the fair use of copyrighted materials.
In theory, the concept of copyright is simple; people who create “intellectual property” can own, control, and be paid for their efforts. In reality, copyright is a complex and fluid issue that can seem beyond the grasp of those outside the legal profession. Two common misconceptions among students (and teachers) are (1) online resources that don’t display a copyright symbol are not protected by copyright (2) any copyrighted resource may be used for any purpose provided the work is cited. Under current law, copyright protection is automatic when intellectual property is created, and portions of copyrighted works can be used for educational purposes under the terms of Fair Use.
Fair Use
Copyright is a law and objective; Fair Use is a guideline and subjective. At a basic level, however, four factors determine if/how copyrighted work can be used under the guise of Fair Use:
  • The purpose and character of the use.
  • The nature of the copyrighted work.
  • The amount of the portion used.
  • The effect of the use upon its value.

Teaching Copyright
Copyright Confusion
Media Education Lab
Hall Davidson Copyright Chart

Creative Commons: What is it?
The ability to license your own work, writing, photography, music, presentations click on the link to review the Creative Commons site and licenses available

Between the “all rights reserved” of copyright and the “no rights reserved” of the public domain is a relatively new option for licensing intellectual property Creative Commons. A free service, Creative Commons allows content creators to license their work with “some rights reserved.
There is a great deal of creative commons material available on the web and tools such as FlickrCC, FlickrStorm, and Creative Commons Search make it easy to locate what others have shared for use. Moving students from Google image searches is challenging, but well worth the effort in quality and permissibility of Creative Commons content.