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EdTech Update




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New guidelines for Fair Use!

Well, I'm really excited! Check out this press release from the Center for Social Media:

TEMPLE UNIVERSITY Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19122
A Commonwealth University

Yes, You Can Use Copyrighted Material in the Classroom
New Code Outlines Five Principles of Fair Use for Teachers, Students

PHILADELPHIA, PA (November 11, 2008)— A national magazine tells a professor she needs
hundreds of permissions to use its cover photos in her class, when in fact, she could claim fair
use, which does not require payment or permission. Many teachers want to use YouTube as a
teaching tool but aren’t sure if it’s legal; others warn their students not to post their video
assignments to YouTube. Under fair use, both actions are legal.

All manner of content and media is now available online, but fear and misinformation have kept
teachers and students from using this valuable material, including portions of films, TV
coverage, photos, songs, articles, and audio, in the classroom.

Now, thanks to a coordinated effort by the media literacy community, supported by experts at
American University and Temple University, teachers and students have a guide that simplifies
the legalities of using copyrighted materials in an academic setting: The Code of Best Practices
in Fair Use for Media Literacy Education, available online at:

The code, which will be released on Tuesday, November 11, at the National Constitution Center
in Philadelphia, was developed by the National Association for Media Literacy Education, the
Action Coalition for Media Education, the National Council of Teachers of English, the Visual
Communication Studies Division of the International Communication Association, and the
Media Education Foundation, and facilitated by Peter Jaszi and Patricia Aufderheide of
American University and Renee Hobbs of Temple University.

Educators use copyrighted materials from mass media and popular culture in building students'
critical thinking and communication skills. For example, a teacher might have a class analyze a
website or a television ad to identify purpose, point of view, and source credibility. With the rise
of digital media tools for learning and sharing, it is more important than ever for educators to
understand copyright and fair use.

Fair use, a long-standing doctrine that was specifically written into Sec. 107 of the Copyright
Act of 1976, allows the use of copyrighted material without permission or payment when the
benefit to society outweighs the cost to the copyright owner.

“The fair-use doctrine was designed to help teachers and learners, among others,” said Peter
Jaszi, director of the Program on Information Justice and Intellectual Property at American
University’s Washington College of Law. “It's one of the best copyright tools teachers have.”

“Finally, copyright confusion among educators will be a thing of the past,” said Hobbs, founder
of Temple University’s Media Education Lab and professor of broadcasting,
telecommunications and mass media at the university’s School of Communications and Theater. “In an increasingly copyrighted world, the code of best practices clarifies copyright and fair use
for educators and students.”

The code, which outlines basic principles for the application of fair use to media literacy
education, articulates related limitations, and examines common myths about copyright and
education, is a follow-up to a 2007 report, The Cost of Copyright Confusion for Media Literacy.
The report found that teachers’ lack of copyright understanding impairs the teaching of critical
thinking and communication skills. Too many teachers, it found, react by feigning ignorance,
quietly defying the rules or vigilantly complying.

The Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Media Literacy Education outlines five principles,
each with limitations:

Educators can, under some circumstances:
1. Make copies of newspaper articles, TV shows, and other copyrighted works, and use them
and keep them for educational use.
2. Create curriculum materials and scholarship with copyrighted materials embedded.
3. Share, sell and distribute curriculum materials with copyrighted materials embedded.

Learners can, under some circumstances:
4. Use copyrighted works in creating new material.
5. Distribute their works digitally if they meet the transformativeness standard.

As part of the project, the Center for Social Media has produced a video to help teachers and
students understand how they can use copyrighted materials. The Code, video and other
curriculum materials for educators are available at
and can also be found at

“The best practices approach has worked superbly for other creative communities, such as
documentary filmmakers,” said Aufderheide, director of American University’s Center for
Social Media, part of the university's School of Communication. “The code will empower
educators to work as creatively as they want to, with a much better understanding of their rights
under the law.”

This project was funded by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, with additional
funding from the Ford Foundation.

For more information, contact Katie Donnelly at

Press Contacts:

Jazmyn Burton, Temple University,, 215-204-7594
Maggie Barrett, American University Media Relations,, 202-885-5951

One of my pet projects this year has been trying to get the role of the librarian in dealing with copyright issue changed from "copyright cop" to "copyright counselor." This document, I'm sure, will be a featured resource in my efforts.

According to Cathy Nelson, Joyce Valenza will be doing a live presentation tomorrow as well. Be there or be square!


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Reader Comments (14)

Thank you for posting this great information! We are discussing copyright issues in one of my classes this week so this will really come in handy for my fellow sutdents.

November 10, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterRebecca Buerkett

Good news! Thanks for sharing! I was just talking with teachers about copyright and fair use today.

November 10, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterDan Brooks

Seems like this organization is concerned with media literacy and fair use and re-mixing. This does not seem to solve the Fair Use Guidelines confusion in my mind..


November 10, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterKathy Schrock

Thank you for posting this! I have a wikispace for course instructors and I think they will find these resources valuable!

November 11, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterLindsey

Thanks for sharing this information, Doug. I wish it addressed the issue of students who need access to textbooks or novels and can't use printed materials. For example, this statement:

Fair use, a long-standing doctrine that was specifically written into Sec. 107 of the Copyright
Act of 1976, allows the use of copyrighted material without permission or payment when the
benefit to society outweighs the cost to the copyright owner.

seems to suggest that students can have access to digital copies of copyrighted books as the benefit to society (learning disabled students) outweighs the cost to the copyright owner.
Would love some direction in this area as well. It certainly is a move in the right direction.

November 11, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterKaren Janowski

I am anxious to look over the code as well. I will likely carry it with me for some time, as I get worn out being bombarded time and again with stats on what students can and cannot use in academic works. These stats sometimes take on an air of "folklore" to me. I am excited to get another resource aimed at these issues. Thanks.

November 11, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterSean Nash

Hi Rebeca, Lindsay, Sean, and Dan,

Glad to help. Make sure you read the document that was published today: he Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Media Literacy Education, available online at:

All the best,


Hi Kathy,

I suppose it depends on how broadly you interpret media literacy. I like that the guidelines are pointing educators toward a more liberal application of fair use guidelines. Have you read Lessig’s new book Remix. He asks how we can decriminalize a whole generation.

All the best,


November 11, 2008 | Registered CommenterDoug Johnson

Hi Karen,

I ran across it someplace, but can’t find it now, but there are special exemptions to copyright laws for special needs students who need adaptive materials. Maybe check with your special education director.

If I run across this information, I’ll see that you get it.

All the best,


November 11, 2008 | Registered CommenterDoug Johnson

Thanks for the blog post and the link in the comments, Doug. I read the NCTE's article and found it long and confusing - certainly nothing I could easily share. But the link you provided gave me access to the Recut, Reframe, Recycle link that contains information and a video that helped me better understand the concept of "transformative." Also, I like your goal to move from copy to counselor!

November 13, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterCindy Marston

Hi Cindy,

I liked this document too – very accessible for teachers and librarians.

I have a fairly extensive list of “user-centric” copyright and fair use resources here if you are interested:

All the best,


November 15, 2008 | Registered CommenterDoug Johnson

High school and college teachers can use these curriculum materials -- videos, readings, lesson plans and hands-on activities--- to introduce students to copyright and fair use, available at:

November 16, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterRenee Hobbs

Thank you, Renee! These materials look great and I am sure my readers will find them of value. I appreciate all the good work you and your colleagues are doing in this area. I am trying to get the word out about your approach through presentations, articles and blog entries.

All the very best,


November 17, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterDoug Johnson

Thanks Doug - appreciated this post, and have linked to it. I only wish our fair use laws in Australia were this liberal. Hopefully we'll be following your lead soon.


November 20, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterPeter Wagstaff

Thanks, Peter. I suspect given the nature of digital media and its ease of copying and distribution, most countries will need to tackle the fair use questions sooner or later.

All the best to you and my Oz friends!


November 20, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterDoug Johnson

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