Copyright 101

Copyright 101

Plagiarism and our Students

We live in the era of the cut and paste, or worse yet, the cut and paste and auto summarize. How do combat this?
  • have the students write early in the year as a benchmark piece to get to know their writing style. Using this as a gauge throughout the year will help you identify questionable content as the year moves on.
  • Educate yourself and your students how to specifically avoid accidental plagiarism.

What do you have to cite?

Here is a great list from the Online Writing Lab at Purdue University as to what needs to be cited in research papers:
  • Words or ideas presented in a magazine, book, newspaper, song, TV program, movie, Web page, computer program, letter, advertisement, or any other medium
  • Information you gain through interviewing or conversing with another person, face to face, over the phone, or in writing
  • When you copy the exact words or a unique phrase
  • When you reprint any diagrams, illustrations, charts, pictures, or other visual materials
  • When you reuse or repost any electronically-available media, including images, audio, video, or other media

What do you not have to cite?

  • Writing your own lived experiences, your own observations and insights, your own thoughts, and your own conclusions about a subject
  • When you are writing up your own results obtained through lab or field experiments
  • When you use your own artwork, digital photographs, video, audio, etc.
  • When you are using "common knowledge," things like folklore, common sense observations, myths, urban legends, and historical events (but not historical documents)
  • When you are using generally-accepted facts, e.g., pollution is bad for the environment, including facts that are accepted within particular discourse communities, e.g., in the field of composition studies, "writing is a process" is a generally-accepted fact.

Your Rights as an Educator

Keys from the movie:
  • Teachers and students can use published, copryrighted material
    • As long it is no more than
      • a single chapter
      • an essay >2500 words
      • 1 copy per student
    • Not more than once
  • Photos
    • with a citation up to 5 times
  • Music
    • with citation up to a 30 second clip
  • Movies (for reward or entertainment in school)
    • are prohibited as they constitute a showing and royalties are required to be paid.
  • Text from a published material
    • up to 1000 words with citation


What can happen to you as an educator if you violate copyright law?

Your Work as an Employee of a School District

It's important to know that the material you create for instruction while working for a school district here in the United States is by law work made for hire, therefore is property of that school district. See the diagram below for an explanation of this.


Online Content Creation and Creative Commons

Because our world and our students world is so "cut and paste," a significant number of online content creators use something called Creative Commons licenses to copyright their work. Follow this link to a great tutorial cartoon that will teach us about these aspects of Creative Commons:
  • Attribution- people can use your work and remix it, but are required to give you attribution through your name and a link.
  • Non-commercial- people can distribute your work, but cannot make a profit from it in any way without first contacting you and gaining permission.
  • No Derivatives- your work must appear in its original form wherever it goes.==copyright3.jpg==
  • Share Alike- whatever license you choose for your work, this follows the work throughout its lifespan, even if it is altered by someone else.
  • Public Domain- no rights reserved.
Here is what the license looks like on a web page:

copyright4.jpgBenefits of choosing a Creative Commons license for your blog, wiki, podcast, or online movie?
  • sharing of content in an ethical manner
  • a clear statement of intellectual property rights.

wuedtech, "Plagiarism: Don't Do It." Online Video Clip. April 7, 2007. August 9, 2007 <>.

Bachenheimer, Barry. "Cut and Paste." Online Video Clip. July 31, 2007. August 8, 2007 <>.

Avoiding Plagiarism-Is it Plagiarism Yet?
. Purdue University-The Writing Lab. August 10, 2007 <>.

Sobel, Lionel S.. Copyright Navigator: A Digital Annotated Concept map of the Fundamentals of U.S. Copyright Law. 2005 August 10, 2007 <>.