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Copyright and Intellectual Property

Avoid the issue: Produce and use materials created under Creative Commons Licence: proposes a generic copyright license in case you would like to grant copyright of your materials. I have seen two urls:

Information on the November 2nd, 2002, the "Technology, Education and Copyright Harmonization Act" (the TEACH Act), part of the larger Justice Reauthorization legislation (H.R. 2215)

Internet Society's treatment of copyright issues is Has news articles, links

World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO)

There's a section on copyright at, in Graham Davies's Foreword to Module 3.1, with links to the BECTA and CIEL pages on copyright.

Technology & Learning has a useful article on copyright here:

The US Library of Congress - - search on your entry for date that copyright was registered, and who holds it

There is an article entitled LEGAL VIEW Can you photocopy this book, please? at; Source: Khaleej Times (Online) - 1 December 2002


"Although the aforementioned document is only a set of guidelines that 'do not represent a legal document' but 'They do represent an agreed upon interpretation of the fair use provisions of the Copyright Act by the overwhelming majority of institutions and organizations affected by educational multimedia'. In section 2 par. 2 one can see 'Educators may incorporate portions of lawfully acquired copyrighted works when producing their own educational multimedia programs' and by PORTIONS they mean (par. 4.2.3) "Music, Lyrics, and Music Video: Up to 10%, but in no event more than 30 seconds, of the music and lyrics from an individual musical work". - from a posting on TESLCA-L 23 Mar 2002 - permission to repost granted by Vassilis Hartzoulakis, Dec 10, 2002

Other resources on copyright and fair use

The guidelines alluded to [above] are those that pertain to *classroom use* of copyrighted materials rather than for use via a website.

However, if you read the complete set of guidelines on the page referenced, you will come to this section:

5.3 Distribution of Multimedia Projects Beyond Limitations Listed in These Guidelines

Educators and students may not use their personally created educational multimedia projects over electronic networks, except for uses as described in Section 3.2.3, without obtaining permissions for all copyrighted works incorporated in the program.

Section 3.2.3 basically says that the material must be behind password protection and use technology that makes it impossible for students to duplicate. It further states:

If the educational institution's network or technology used to access the educational multimedia project created under Section 2 of these guidelines cannot prevent duplication of copyrighted material, students or educators may use the multimedia educational projects over an otherwise secure network for a period of only 15 days after its initial real-time remote use in the course of instruction or 15 days after its assignment for directed self-study...

It seems many instructors see no problem with "borrowing" the work of others to place on their websites--with no permissions and often with no credit to the original creator. I have to wonder how these same instructors would react to plagiarized work by their own students. Of course, I admit that the intent is different in cases of plagiarism; nevertheless, it's easy to see that it's wrong to use someone else's work without explicit permission (and clear citation).

Designers of educational websites need to act responsibly in this regard. Here are a couple more links to good resources on copyright and fair use issues:

From a posting on TESLCA-L 23 Mar 2002 - permission to repost granted by Jim Duber, Dec 10, 2002

As he granted permission, Jim added: the US copyright laws are currently in flux. Here's a somewhat interesting article that I just came across:

A subsequent posting on TESLCA-L 25 Mar 2002; permission to repost granted by Martin Laplante Dec 10, 2002 - if no response this will be removed Dec 11Copyright does not have to be registered. It is a set of rights given to authors at the moment the work is created, which only they can renounce but which governments may limit. A search of registered copyright is not proof of anything, but it helps locate the owner. For copyright to disappear, the author must declare it to be in the public domain or be long, long dead (70 years according to recent laws).

Copyright laws differs by country. I like the Canadian site for a discussion of copyright in various countries. For instance "fair use" ( is in U.S. law but not elsewhere. It's always a good bet to check with the author or with the country's collective rights agency to see if copyright has an exception or can be free in your case. To find the appropriate body, I suggest the members section of [International Federation of Reproduction Rights Organizations]

The Berne convention allows countries to pass laws to exempt copyright for "use for the sole purpose of illustration for teaching or scientific research, as long as the source is indicated and to the extent justified by the non-commercial purpose to be achieved, on condition that the rightholders receive fair compensation;"

Not all countries have done this. The original question came from Finland, which apparently has the world's most detailed laws on educational exceptions to Copyright laws. Most other countries have a vague definition of educational fair use if they allow it at all.

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Last updated: August 19, 2003 in Hot Metal Pro 6.0
minor updates made April 4, 2009 08:00 GMT

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