“Fair use” is the doctrine that allows some use of copyrighted material for education purposes without requiring the permission of the copyright holders.
However, confusion about what exactly is allowed has caused many educators and students to either avoid ALL copyrighted materials just to be safe, or to use ANYTHING without regard to copyright laws. According to a report last year from this same organization, teachers’ lack of copyright understanding impairs the teaching of critical thinking and communication skills.
To help everyone understand fair use, The Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Media Literacy Education was released today by the Center for Social Media in the School of Communication at American University.
The Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Media Literacy Education outlines five principles, each with limitations:
Educators can, under some circumstances:
- Make copies of newspaper articles, TV shows, and other copyrighted works, and use them and keep them for educational use.
- Create curriculum materials and scholarship with copyrighted materials embedded.
- Share, sell and distribute curriculum materials with copyrighted materials embedded.
Learners can, under some circumstances:
- Use copyrighted works in creating new material.
- Distribute their works digitally if they meet the transformativeness standard.
The limitations and circumstances are explained more fully in the report.
Along with reports like this one, the Center website contains some really useful resources for classroom use. Classroom and discussion guides, videos that are perfect to start class discussions and projects, and more.
Thanks to Doug Johnson of the Blue Skunk Blog for the heads-up on this valuable resource!