Week 10 – Copyright and fair use in the digital age

A big thank you to Meg Grotti for helping me curate this module!


[…] “within the United States, European Union and some other jurisdictions, the Copyright Term Extension Act (sometimes called the ‘Mickey Mouse Protection Act’ because of extensive lobbying by the Disney corporation) and similar legislation has ensured that works such as the early Mickey Mouse cartoons will remain under copyright until at least 2023.” – Wikipedia

  • Online: All the activities for this week are located on the web.
  • Asynchronous: There is no required component for this week that requires to connect in real time with colleagues or the instructor.


“The Congress shall have Power … To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries.”

United States Constitution, Article I, Section 8


The intent of copyright is to promote the spread of knowledge, yet most people associate it only with protecting the ideas of the creator. Copyright is a limited monopoly given to the creator of an idea to allow that person to have a return in their initial investment, while spreading the knowledge to other people so that progress can happen. But what does this all mean for educators trying to use and modify work protected by copyright, especially when your classroom is the internet?


  • Introduce copyright and copyright-related U.S. laws, such as fair use and the first sale doctrine.
  • Empower educators to incorporate copyrighted materials as a part of their practice.
  • Understand the general guidelines of fair use, and how to make a fair use assessment.

Action items

1. Watch Renee Hobbs’ session from the 2012 Winter Faculty Institute titled “Copyright Clarity“.

2. Read this page about Fair Use.

2. Watch the first two episodes of Everything is a Remix (you should watch the whole thing if you have time).

3. Watch A Fair(y) Use Tale by Eric Faden of Bucknell University.

4. Browse through the Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Online Video from American University (don’t spend more than 15 minutes there, you could lose track of time really fast).

5. Browse through Stanford University’s Public Domain guide.

6. Fair use checklist from Cornell University.

7. Identify an example of a use of copyrighted materials that you felt uncomfortable with in a specific context (e.g., images for class slides, using video clips, etc.). If you can find an example online, that would be even better. What made you doubt that the use of the copyrighted materials was legitimate? After consulting this week’s materials, what kind of use of copyrighted materials do you feel comfortable using with students in a classroom or an online environment?

8. Submit the URL of your blog post to the assignment titled Week 10: Blog post on Canvas. The submission is due by 5:30 p.m. on Monday, November 5, EDT, and will be graded as a part of the weekly projects.

9. Check the course’s class feed for other posts by colleagues, and comment on their posts. You should at least read and comment on two or three posts, but you’re welcome to visit as many as you want. As a part of the online participation grade, you should also contribute and discuss on the different social media outlets, such as Diigo, Twitter, Google+, and Pinterest.

More to explore

Optional additional resources:

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