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Copyright and Fair Use for Student Projects: Intro

A guide for students on how to use copyrighted materials in your student projects.

Purpose

This guide aims to help students make informed decisions about using copyrighted materials in student projects.  As students become content creators of materials (e.g. presentations, videos, online posts) that are no longer limited to the walls of the classroom, the importance of understanding how to legally use materials becomes more and more critical. The resources in this guide point you to established best practices in using copyrighted materials as part of the fair use rights provided in copyright law, as well as copyright-friendly resources freely available online. 

For more information about copyright, see our Copyright & Fair Use guide (designed for professors).

Misconceptions about Copyright & Student Projects

Misconception #1
Since I am submitting my project as part of a class assignment, all the materials I use fall under fair use, and do not need copyright permission to be used.

If you are using copyrighted materials for a class-related assignment (e.g. powerpoint, video, essay) that stays within the confines of your classroom, and the assignment is not shared beyond your professor and fellow students, then yes, it is considered fair use.

However, if you post that assignment on the open web, that makes the material public, and your use is no longer fair use.  However, if your use is transformative and limited to only the material you need to make your point, than that would still fall under fair use.  For other uses, you can consider materials that are free to use, such as those with Creative Commons licenses or in the public domain.

Misconception #2
I am not making any money from my ______ (fill in the blank with ppt, video, essay, etc) so all the mateirals I use fall under fair use, and I do not need to obtain permission for their use.

Even if you are not earning money for your work, if your work is made public, you still need to obtain permission to use copyrighted materials.  Your use may fall under fair use if it is transformative and limited to only the material you need to make your point. For other uses, you can consider materials that are free to use, such as those with Creative Commons licenses or in the public domain.

 

Ask A Librarian

Nancy  Schuler's picture
Nancy Schuler
Contact:
Electronic Resources, Collection Development, and Instructional Services Librarian (CRA)
Eckerd College Library
schulenl@eckerd.edu
727-864-8357

Reference Desk Hours (Fall 2018)
Monday: 6 - 10 p.m.
Tuesday: 3 - 5 p.m.
Wednesday: 9 a.m. - noon
Thursday: By appt.
Friday: By appt.

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Disclaimer

This guide is intended to provide basic information and resources about copyright and does not constitute legal advice.

Unless otherwise noted, all content on the Copyright and Fair Use section of this site is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution License.