Fair Use, Creative Commons
and Teach Act.
Ownership Rights and End-use Rights and
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In today’s social media content rich world, we are increasingly challenged when it comes to content ownership. Whether it be words, images, audio or digital, the
need to be both responsible and ethical when using someone else’s works does not diminish based on where or how you retrieved the works. Business
professionals, Teachers and Learners, need to understand not only their rights and responsibilities as end-users, but also their rights and responsibilities as owners
of copyrighted and creative common materials/works. Understanding both the legal and ethical aspect of these rights will help to enhance how you affect the
market ability to drive creativity and innovation.
This curriculum is designed to educate business professionals, teachers and learners about copyright while incorporating activities that exercise skills such as
comprehension of the various laws, how and when to apply these laws based on ownership and end-use and most importantly how to not only act responsibly but to use
an ethical mind when apply these laws. Both the owner and end-user of any materials/works will directly or indirectly affect market ability from both an economic
perspective ( revenues and income) creativity ( the ability to collaborate) and innovation ( the ability to build upon other ideas.)
Lesson topics include: understanding copyright law; fair use, creative commons and teach act. Their relationship to each other, how to differentiate between all four laws
and their respective use both inside and outside the private business and learning institutions.
The lesson plan also includes students acting as both judge and jury on the Blurred Lines vs. Marvin Gaye estate case which will tests the students' understanding of
copyright and its limitations and encourages them to consider the positions of each party involved.
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Goals and Objectives
Goals for the Teacher
• Teacher will educate students about copyright law, including the concepts of fair use, creative commons, teach act and freedom of expression.
• Teacher will help the students explore the relationship between copyright law, creative commons, fair use and teach act and how it affects freedom of expression and
innovation for both business professionals, teachers and students.
• Teacher will help students with understanding their rights as both owners of copyrighted materials and works and end-users of others copyrighted materials and
works. And how the laws can be applied to both online and traditional use of materials and works while also understanding how to apply the law based on situation
( professional or educational).
Objectives for Students
• Students will learn critical and creative thinking: brainstorming, while analyzing and questioning group and individual assumptions regarding copyright, creative
commons, teach act or fair use laws.
• Students will enhance their social skills by debating and collaborating with peers.
• Students will enhance their debate skills and role-playing skills demonstrating comprehension by commenting (orally and in writing) on the material.
• Students will enhance their understanding of copyright, creative commons, fair use and teach act through research and frequently asked questions.
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Freedom of Expression
Copyright Law, Fair Use, Creative Commons and TeachAct
In order to learn about copyright you ﬁrst need to understand some of the most common plain english misconceptions
that o"en stem #om not understanding the law.
• If it doesn't have a copyright notice, it's not copyrighted.
• If I don't charge for it, it's not a violation.
• The materials or works I am using falls under Fair Use.
• I can use the Teach Act to use digital sources during my presentation because “I am teaching something to my clients.”
• It is not like the can sue me. I have the right of Freedom of Speech (Expression) is my First Amendment right.
• It doesn't hurt anybody -- in fact it's free advertising.
• If the image is on the Internet, it is free to use.
•An image has to be registered with the U.S. Copyright Ofﬁce to be protected.
• If I cite the source, it is ok to use the image.
• No one will ever catch me if I use the image or content. It is just a tweet/Facebook/Instagram post.
• I created the coursework will working at the high school. Who owns the copyright the school?
• I only used a few notes of the owners music in the song I wrote. It didn’t use the core notes, does copyright infringement apply?
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Students will be evaluated will be based on their ability to draw similarities and
differences between copyright, fair use, teach and creative commons. Students will
also be asked to attend at least three live discussions revolving around the slide
“Misconceptions” to ensure they have a full understanding of each of the laws,
guidelines and acts. Students will also be assessed on their ﬁnal assignment based
on critical thinking skills, applying ethics and laws, or ethics vs. law to the Robin
Thicke vs. Marvin Gaye case.
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If it doesn't have a copyright notice, it's not
If it quacks like a duck and looks like a duck, then it isn’t a duck.
According to U.S. Copyright Law, almost everything created privately and originally after April 1, 1989 is
copyrighted and protected whether it has a notice or not.
The default you should assume for other people's works is that they are copyrighted and may not be copied
unless you know otherwise.
Even if materials or works were created before 1989, you should still shouldn’t risk not knowing if any
copyright licenses are being held by legal heirs, trust etc.
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If I don't charge for it, it's not a violation.
“But your honor, I may have stolen it, but I didn’t charge for it. “
Infringement is infringement. Basically, the law is the law, whether you charge for the material or works.
The only difference charging for the material will make under law is the amount of damages being awarded, if
any to the copyright license holder. This is where innovation and affecting the market is applied. It is a violation
if you give it away, thus not allowing the original owner to make any income from the piece ( especially if the
materials or work is already generating income ) and it if you do charge, you are hurting the commercial value of
The only time you can exclaim that you didn’t charge for the material or works considered infringed upon is if
you can apply the Fair Use law.
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The materials or works I am using falls under
Fair Use guidelines.
“I only used 300 words in my commentary. “
The "fair use"is not an act, but an exception to (U.S.) copyright law, set forth in Section 107 and was created to allow things such as commentary,
parody, news reporting, research and education about copyrighted works without the permission of the author. That's vital so that copyright law
doesn't block your freedom to express your own works -- only the ability to appropriate other people's.
Things to consider under Fair Use guidelines.
• Intent, and damage to the commercial value of the work are important considerations.
• Attribution, or giving someone else credit has very little to do with fair use guidelines.
• Fair use covers materials that are used in a face-to-face traditional classroom setting in an
• There is no magic number of words you can use under fair use guidelines. Don’t take more than you need. Don’t take the core of the work.
• Do not be confused with the number of words that can be legally used from the original materials or works. If even the smallest amount of works takes away from the core of the piece
being used, you can be infringement of the fair use guidelines.
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I can use the Teach Act to use digital sources in my webinar, because “I am
teaching something to my clients.”
“Ladies and gentlemen thank you for paying to attend my webinar.”
The Technology Education and Copyright Harmonization Act ( The Teach Act) was signed into law in 2002. It is an “amendment” to sections 110 (2) and
112 (f) of the U.S. Copyright Act. It is designed to balance the perspectives of copyright owners of digital materials and teachers and students in a distant
learning classroom. Because of growth of accredited distant learning classroom, The Teach Act main focus is the storing, copying of digital materials. The
Teach Act does not imply that you
Beneﬁts and limitations of the Teach Act.
• Limitation - It is not intended for professional use in commercial settings.
• Beneﬁt - Grants certain rights to special digital uses of “copyrighted material” speciﬁcally in an online distant learning accredited (course for credit) and with course management systems.
• Beneﬁt - Instructors ( not consultants and presenters) may use a wider range of works in distance learning environments.
• Students may participate in learning sessions from virtually any location.
• Participants, both teacher and student enjoy greater latitude when it comes to storing, copying and digitizing materials for learning.
Note: Both Fair Use and the TEACH act are designed to give limited use of copyrighted material for particular purposes. However, the Teach Act does not
allow you to use materials in the distance education on the same terms under fair use that you can use copyrighted materials in the traditional or face-to-face
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It doesn’t hurt anyone if I use copyrighted material
without permission, in fact, it is free advertising.”
“I would like to live in a world characterized by good work, work that is excellent, ethical and engaging.” - 5
Minds for the Future, Howard Gardner.
It is NEVER up to the end user of copyrighted materials or works to freely advertise without permission
copyrighted materials. It is always the decision of the owner of the copyrighted material or works to decide if
they would like free advertising. One can assume that if the owner would like free advertisement by allowing a
piece to be copied or posted to go viral, they will be certain to take the necessary steps to do so. This means
giving you expressed permission to use their works.
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“If i provide attribution, then it is ok to use the
downloaded or copied image.”
“I provided a link to their web site, what are they complaining about.”
Under the Copyright Act, you must seek permission. Attribution to the owner from your web site to their web
site does not exempt you from seeking permission to use copyrighted materials or works. Under Creative
Commons you must attribute the work in the manner speciﬁed by the author or licensor. Under the Teach Act,
you can attribute one’s work within the guidelines of the Teach Act. Fair Use means under the right settings and
conditions, you can use the work with seeking permission. But ethically, it would only be fair to cite or attribute
the work to the original author.
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“No one will ever catch me if I use the copyrighted
“I just tweeted you a link to my latest blog post with supporting images.”
You just tweeted your latest blog post. You downloaded the supporting images from Creative Commons. The
licensor expressed clearly how they would like you to use the images. Included in your blog post you have a few
PDF conversions of actual verbatim text from a book.
Your tweet went viral. It was shared by millions. And among the millions and millions of friends of friends of
friends, one of your many friends ( a couple of thousand or two that you do not know ) so happens to be friends
with both the author of the book who rights you infringed upon and friend of the original images who has the
Creative Commons license. You are caught, and you can be sued.
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“I created the coursework will working at the high
school. Who owns the copyright the school?”
“I decided to create this additional coursework for my students. ”
Barring some agreement that a teacher owns the rights to everything created, the school could make a case that
the materials created for the teacher’s class would be considered “work for hire.” This would also apply to
business professional such as photographers and graphic designers who “work for hire” to create something for a
client. An agreement should be in place to decide who owns the image, the original artwork, the expressed
thought put into medium, i.e., content. I would strongly suggest the agreement should includes both the
copyright and the creative common license.
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Based on your research and what was learned in the class, you will be tested
on basic copyright law, including the concepts of fair use, creative commons,
teach act and freedom of expression. You will answer three questions for
copyright law, fair use, creative commons and teach act. You will post your
answers in the course discussion forum.
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Copyright Law questions. True or False
1. Copyright Law does not protect materials posted to tweets, blogs or
Instagram such as content, images, digital transmission of content or images,
works based on the owners perceived thoughts not put into any medium.
2. The life of a copyright is the lifetime of the author, plus the life of their heirs.
3. As long as it is not identical, a person can reproduce the works of an author.
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Fair Use questions. True or False
1. As a consultant, I can use fair use to use copyrighted materials in my next
seminar. Technically, I am teaching.
2. I can use as much of the original works as I want to get my point across, as
long as I don’t use the entire works.
3. Fair use applies to distant learning just like the Teach Act.
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Creative Commons questions. True or False
1. Creative Commons is an exception to the Copyright Act, which passed
Congress in 2010.
2. Creative Commons beneﬁts the author against, piracy, allows for
collaboration and helps the market by allowing other creatives to share the
wealth of innovation.
3. Under Creative Commons, you can only have one license at a time for all of
your works and not just a portion.
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The Teach Act questions. True or False
1. The Teach Act give distant teachers and students carte blanche above and
beyond the Copyright Act, Creative Commons and Fair Use.
2. Allows certain usage of copyrighted materials in a distant/online accredited
classroom setting without seeking permission from the copyright owner.
3. Under the Teach Act, copyrighted digital materials must directly relate back
to the content of the distant/online class.
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Freedom of Expression questions. True or False
1. The ﬁrst amendment says anyone can use copyrighted material as long as
they attribute the works back to its original owner.
2. Freedom of expression means I can tweet, post to my Facebook page, blog or
Instagram page copyrighted materials or materials with a creative common
license as long as “it is online and not in real life.”
3. As a teach or student, I can will have additional leverage if I bend the rules of
Fair Use and Teach Act if I include my ﬁrst amendment rights as well.
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Applying The Law
You are now judge and jury for the upcoming case, Robin Thicke vs. Marvin
Gaye Estate. You will interpret copyright laws, freedom of expression and
how it affects the market based on the merits of this case. Post your verdict
on the course discussion forum. Explain your verdict and please cite speciﬁc
sections of the copyright law and interpretations of freedom of expression in
other music cases similar to Robin Thicke vs. Marvin Gaye Estate.
Below are several links to follow where industry bloggers provide both their
personal, knowledge of music and the law. Please read with a discerning ear.
• ABC News
• Atlanta Star
• Forbes - The Blurred Lines of Copyright Law and Music ( Read the comments, they may also help you to decide your copyright
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