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Copyright and Fair Use

March 12, 2012 Leave a comment

Several years ago, a lawsuit against a 12 year old girl who downloaded copyrighted music started a wave of lawsuits against young people who break copyright laws. Headlines continue to make the news regarding cases of copyright infringement. The Recording Industry Artists Association (RIAA) is suing students, and universities are imposing penalties on students in an effort to avoid potential lawsuits. In today’s classroom, attention to copyright is imperative, and students must be taught by example the importance of adhering to copyright laws.

Stanford University Law School provides resources on the use of copyrighted works under fair use guidelines. A copyright overview explains the basics of copyright law, what is protected, how to get permission to use copyrighted works, website and educational permissions, and an explanation of fair use. The Center for Internet and Society (CIS) at Stanford Law School presents cases related to copyright infringement and links to experts on copyright law.

According to the CIS website:

“The Fair Use Project (FUP) is the only organization in the country dedicated specifically to providing free and comprehensive legal representation to authors, filmmakers, artists, musicians and other content creators who face unmerited copyright claims, or other improper restrictions on their expressive interests. The FUP has litigated important cases across the country, and in the Supreme Court of the United States, and worked with scores of filmmakers and other content creators to secure the unimpeded release of their work.”

Information from these sites may be used by educators who wish to learn more about copyright. The cases related to copyright infringement could be used to develop cases studies for high school students in technology or language arts courses to learn about copyright. The cases could also be used as the basis of class discussions or to generate ideas for classroom debates.

The Copyright Site is another great resource for educators. It provides information and instructional resources for all grade levels. Of particular interest to teachers are links to copyright myths and copyright scenarios that can be used in the classroom, and teaching ideas for all ages, from kindergarten to college.

The Teaching Copyright site published by The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) provides additional excellent curriculum resources. A copyright curriculum and links to additional copyright resources are presented on the site.

Image: renjith krishnan / FreeDigitalPhotos.net