What Every Teacher Must Know About Copyright For Online Lessons
If you teach online lessons, you know that it takes a lot of time to create online teaching modules. Many teachers are tempted to press CTRL-C and CTRL-V or right-click and ‘Save As’ to take short cuts.
Teachers that freely and randomly use content procured from the internet for their lessons, completely ignoring copyright in the process, commonly use the excuse that “it’s for a good cause.” That might be true, but not only is protecting the rights of owners of content an essential principle for internet safety, but it also teaches students an important lesson about plagiarism and research.
Keep reading to find out how copyright impacts your online lessons.
What Constitutes Copyrighted Material?
US Copyright Law has quite a broad definition of copyrighted material. Almost anything tangible and originally created is protected by the law – even if the creator has not made use of the copyright icon or made it clear that the work is copyrighted.
Plenty of teachers wrongly assume that the rule of fair use excludes them from any restrictions. Even when applied to teaching and education, the fair use rule has its own restrictions that are meant to protect the creator or author’s commercial benefits and rights.
Defining Fair Use
When determining if your intended material usage is fair, according to the definition in the copyright code, you should ask yourself these questions:
How are you using the material? Changing, adjusting, or interpreting the material is more often considered fair use than duplicating it verbatim.
Is the work creative or factual? Factual work will more often be considered fair use than work that is creative.
How much of the material am I using? If you plan to copy a whole article to use in one of your presentations, it will not be considered fair use on your part. Taking a few quotes or paragraphs, instead, will be acceptable.
Am I limiting the commercial gain of the creator by using the material? This is an incredibly important question if the educational content is created by people who rely on its distribution and sale for their livelihood.
If you don’t want to run the risk of infringing on the copyrights of a creator or author, then you should consider using free resources instead. Incredible resources are abundant online that can be used freely.
This website has a comprehensive list of free images, videos, and music resources that you can use in your online lessons. However, you should note that most of the material will be released under a Creative Commons license.
Working within the copyright framework might seem restrictive. Still, if creatives continue to produce thought-provoking and eye-catching content, they will need a system that protects their rights and ensures that they are appropriately remunerated and acknowledged. The perfect internet is an open, free space where essential and useful work can be shared.