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Copyright for Teachers: Home

Based on "Copyright in the Classroom" by Amy Mars at Research Guides, St. Catherine University


  This is based on the Guide, Copyright in the Classroom by Amy Mars at Research Guides, St. Catherine University-- used with permission.

Neither I nor the original creator are lawyers and what follows is NOT legal advice.

Copyright Basics

Image text: "Copyright Basics: Congress is allowed to pass laws to promote the progress of science and the useful arts by securing for limited times to authors & inventors their exclusive rights to their respective writings and discoveries."

Measuring Fair Use-- the Four Factors. An excellent discussion with examples that help determine fair use.~From Stanford Libraries

Copyright Basics

Copyright allows creators to control what people can do with their original works.

"Copyright, a form of intellectual property law, protects original works of authorship including literary, dramatic, musical, and artistic works, such as poetry, novels, movies, songs, computer software, and architecture.' (U.S. Copyright office, FAQ)

This includes the ability to sell or transfer those rights-- so copyright in many popular creators' works are controlled by a corporation or other entity that has obtained the rights.

Copyright includes the rights to authorize or forbid:

  • reproduction of the creative work
  • creation of derivative works (think licensed products, sequels)
  • Sell, rent or lend copies to the public (this doesn't include selling or lending a legally obtained copy)
  • perform, show or display creative work in public
  • perform an audio work via digital audio transmission (i.e. Digital Radio)

Creators of visual art also have a right to Attribution and Integrity.


At one time, works had to have a notice of copyright and be registered to be copyrighted.

Under current law, that's no longer true: the minute a work is fixed in tangible form, it is copyrighted to the creator. 

Both displaying copyright notices and registering your copyright with the U.S Office of Copyright may be helpful in protecting your work; but neither are required. The lack of a copyright notice does not indicate a work is not copyrighted.



Use these questions to guide you as you make decisions about using content in the classroom.  This guide has a tab w/resources to help you answer each question.  Follow the questions in order.  It is designed to lead you from easier to more difficult copyright questions.  

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Copyright Resources

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