An Exception to Copyright Law
Haag & Cummings (2008 p. 342) define copyright as “the legal protection afforded an expression of an idea, such as a song, video game, and some types of proprietary documents”. Although they state that copyright law protects authorship and that infringing that copyright is an illegal act, they also advise that there are exceptions to that protection. Generally, those exceptions are covered by the Fair Use Doctrine, permitting use of existing copyrighted material where, for this example, it is used to a limited extent in a teaching environment (p. 342).
An article entitled “Copyright” (revised May 2011) on the University of Wisconsin website defines what it calls a “four factor test” to ascertain fair use. First of the four factors is the type of use. Criticism, commentary, as in class discussions) are likely to be considered fair use. Commercial use is not. The second test factor is the nature of the work. If it is published and wholly original, then fair use is more restricted. Thirdly, the smaller the portion of the original work used, the more likely the fair use concept will be applicable. The type of use affects this criterion. Using an entire article in a class debate might be acceptable, whereas reproducing it in another work would not. The fourth factor is the effect of the use on the potential market for the original work. For example, making enough copies of an entire book to distribute to everyone in class could be perceived as depriving the author of sales of all those copies.
“Reproduction of Copyrighted Works by Educators and Librarians” (2009) is a booklet produced by the United States Copyright Office that defines (p. 6-8) what constitutes fair use in the teaching environment. The guidance provided is extensive, which can help teachers and others ensure they do not transgress the permissible extent or frequency of copying for educational purposes. An important note for educators included in the booklet is that each copy made for use in class must include a copyright statement.
Copyright. (Revised May 2011). University of Wisconsin. Retrieved from http://www.uwsa.edu/gc-off/deskbook/copyrgt.htm
Haag, Stephen & Cummings, Maeve. (2008). Management Information Systems for the Information Age, 7th ed (p. 342). New York. McGraw Hill. Print.
Reproduction of Copyrighted Works by Educators and Librarians (pp. 6-8). (2009). United States Copyright Office. Retrieved from http://www.copyright.gov/circs/circ21.pdf