Innovative Learning

Copyright Information

Adhering to copyright laws is a critical part of the job of an instructional designer. This page provides resources to help keep up with copyright rules.

Educational Fair Use
Even if copyrighted materials are being used for educational purposes, copyright laws still apply. However, they are much more lenient than in commercial settings. The following links explain the rules for using works for educational purposes


Public Domain
Many works are considered to be in the public domain. In this case the copyright for these works has expired, allowing them to be used and distributed freely. As a basic rule of thumb, works copyrighted before 1923 are safely in the public domain. For more exact dates, check out the public domain chart. The following are some sites that have public domain resources on them (however, you should always check to make sure material on a "public domain" site is really public domain).


Copyleft is similar to public domain. Materials that have been "copylefted" are available for free use and distribution as long as they remain free for others to use and distribute (read the Copyleft text). The following are links to excellent copyleft sites.

General Information
Copyright Clearance Center (CCC) - The CCC is a not-for-profit organization created at the suggestion of Congress to help organizations comply with U.S. copyright law. This site contains information about copyright law and through its licensing programs, it provides authorized users with a lawful means for making photocopies from its repertory of over 1.75 million titles.

Crash Course in Copyright - University of Texas information, easy to understand and very comprehensive.

US Copyright Office - provides information about both national and international copyright laws as well as provides links to other resources.

US Copyright Office-Copyright Basics - US Copyright Office circular providing overview of copyright laws.

Electronic Media and the Web
Association of Computing Machinery Copyright and Intellectual Property - The ACM U.S. Public Policy Committee (USACM) serves as the focal point for ACM's interaction with U.S. government organizations, the computing community and the U.S. public in all matters of U.S. public policy related to information technology. Updates on laws, and proposed bills are posted along with links to discussions and articles relating to Copyright and Intellectual Property.

The Copyright Website! - The Copyright Website! endeavors to provide real world, practical and relevant copyright information of interest to infonauts, netsurfers, webspinners, content providers, musicians, appropriationists, activists, infringers, outlaws, and law abiding citizens by seeking to encourage discourse and invite solutions to the myriad of copyright tangles that currently permeate the Web.

Cyber-Property: Copyright, Citations, and The WWW - The move to cyberspace poses unique problems in copyright and citation, but existing copyright laws and citation guidelines stop short of these new electronic frontiers. This paper by Janice R. Walker discusses the roles educators should play in the formation of Internet regulations.

Cyberspace Law - Cyberspace Law Papers on Adobe Acrobat for Cyberspace Law Abstracts. Edited by Larry Lessig, sponsored by the Social Science Research Network.

Digital Future Coalition - The 42 member Digital Future Coalition (DFC) is committed to preserving the time-tested balance between the rights of owners of intellectual property and the traditional use privileges of the public. Created in 1995, the DFC is a unique collaboration of many of the nation's leading non-profit educational, scholarly, library and consumer groups, together with major commercial trade associations representing leaders in the consumer electronics, telecommunications, computer and network access industries. Thus, the DFC membership represents both the owners and users of intellectual property.

Shifting Boundaries of Intellectual Property: Copyright, Intellectual Property, and Publishing on the WWW by Joan Latchaw & Jeffrey R Galin. Collection of links to materials on copyright, Fair Use, Intellectual Property, and Examples of Copyright and Disclaimer Statements.

Especially for Education
Copyright and K-12: Who Pays in the Network Era? - American public schools are spending less than three percent of their budgets each year on textbooks and other copyrighted works--approximately $5.4 billion out of current expenditures of well over $200 billion. Many teachers and students are either doing without the material or pirating it. The goal of this paper by David H. Rothman is to enlighten the K-12 community about the issues involved with copyright sharing educational materials.

Copyright Implementation Manual (CIM) - Copyright law is complex, constantly evolving, and open to a wide range of legal interpretation; it's the goal of CIM to provide teachers, librarians, and students with clear instructions on the permissible uses of copyrighted materials. This manual was developed for the Groton Public Schools.

Fair Use of Copyrighted Works A Crucial Element in Educating America - This home page contains the electronic version of Fair Use of Copyrighted Works, a pamphlet published by CETUS. It was put together by the Working Group on Ownership, Legal Rights of Use and Fair Use of the CSU-SUNY-CUNY Joint Committee. It also contains links to fair-use guidelines and other resources that are intended to promote a fuller understanding and appreciation of copyright laws.

The Institute for Learning Technologies Guide to Copyright - This page provides information of interest to educators and others relating to copyright, including access to Copyright Resources for Education Online (CREDO), a database of original material developed by ILT for educators providing important basic information and useful tips on how to protect one's work and how to comply with the existing rules for the use others' copyrighted material.

Keeping it Legal: Questions Arising out of Web Site Management - 1996 article written by Jamie McKenzie for school administrators discussing some potential copyright violations arising from student and staff Web pages.