What is Copyright?
• Copyright. You may have heard the word...but just
what does it mean?
Copyright can be a pretty confusing topic, and it comes
with a variety of issues. Who owns it? Who can use it?
How do you cite it properly? These are a few questions
that commonly arise when copyright is mentioned.
This page is designed to help you answer those
questions, as well as provide a resource to give you a
little background on some of the more important
aspects of copyright that teachers (and students!) in
the classroom should be aware.
Licensing and Software Piracy
• Unfortunately, more than 75% of computers have some form of licensing issue
with software installed. This means that the software is not legal, and is subject to
a wide variety of legal ramifications, whether usage was intended or not. This is
why it is very important to understand how to tell if your software is properly
A good idea is to always register your computer and associated software products.
In the case of computers using Windows, by registering your computer and
software, you will be able to install updates, security fixes, and general
improvements to your programs and computer operating system.
If you were using an illegal copy of either you would become subject to the
security and overall usage risks that would be fixed by receiving these free updates
(for legally purchased/activated products).
Besides the potential legal hurdles you may be subjected to, software piracy has
long-term consequences that include the software company losing money,
potentially hurting the economy, and leaves smaller companies at constant risk of
downsizing in order to remain in business. Now does that $25 piece of software
you are illegally using really seem that important?
• What is Fair Use?
Put simply, fair use is the ability to use "copyrighted material done for a limited and
"transformative" purpose, such as to comment upon, criticize, or parody a copyrighted work. Such
uses can be done without permission from the copyright owner. In other words, fair use is a
defense against a claim of copyright infringement. If your use qualifies as a fair use, then it would
not be considered an illegal infringement" (Stim, 2013).
But what signifies this use?
According to Rich Stim, a copyright attorney and his Copyright and Fair Use page through Stanford
University, he mentions that fair use analysis falls into two categories:
A) Commentary and Criticism:
The best example is if the work in question is used for a book review, or perhaps a new music
album. You would be able to legally use samples of the copyrighted work in order to convey
Likewise, a parody requires usage of some of the initial source material. While the actual allowable
extent may be a little ambiguous, it is generally understand that a considerable amount may be
sampled in order to allow the audience to understand both the original intent and then the
potentially satiric end result .
• The Teach Act, officially known as the Technology, Education,
and Copyright Harmonization (TEACH) Act offering a number
of improvements to regulations the U.S. Copyright Act. This
was to assist distance education programs that met specific
criteria an unprecedented amount of access to a wide variety
of digital and non-digital works protected by their respective
• Copyright basics. (2012, May). Retrieved
Copyright in general. (2013, September 05). Retrieved from
Stim, R. (2013). What is fair use? Retrieved
The Campus Guide to Copyright Compliance. (2013).
Copyright basics: The teach act. Retrieved