Copyright and Creative Commons

I put this on the front page because it is very important. It's importance is really two fold. First, you don't want to get sued. Second, we need to be models for our students. Note, I'm not a lawyer so you should follow the links I provide and use your best judgment. I will not give you any legal advice, nor am I capable of determining if information in the links I provide is accurate. This is all stuff to keep in mind when using video, images, or audio that you yourself did not create.
  • Fair Use - A lawyer once told me that the copyright laws and fair use provisions were written to be vague on purpose. The bottom line as to whether you broke the law sometimes seems to hinge on which judge you happen to have presiding over your case.
    • From the U.S. Copyright Office
    • From - Excellent in it's explanation of what constitutes fair use.
    • From Wikipedia (includes lots of links and references)
    • Bottom line: If you include pictures or music you (or a student) find on the net in a movie or powerpoint that you are using to teach from in your school then it may be fair use. If you then put that presentation up on the internet for the world then there's a good chance you violated copyright.
  • Creative Commons - The instant you create a work you have a copyright on it. Technically anyone who wants to use it in some way MUST get your permission. So, if you create a powerpoint presentation and you freely give it away on the internet then other people must, by law, ask for your permission before they show it to a group of people. The intent of Creative Commons is to bypass the permission asking. It is a way of labeling your work to tell people what rights they have when using your material. For example, I've labeled this page (in the sidebar) to give people the right to use, reproduce, or make derivative works from this information as long as they tell people I created it and they share any derivative works under the same license. If their use falls under this then they don't need to ask me first, I've already given them permission.
  • Public Domain - Material in the Public Domain has no copyright. Copyright doesn't last for ever, eventually it expires. Additionally, you as a content creator might decide you don't care what is done with your creation and so may wish to make it public domain right away. As crazy as it might sound, there are some that claim you as a content creator can not legally do this, however.