Fair Use & Copyright in Education

How many times have you headed to the copy machine to make copies of a worksheet, article or page from a book? Or maybe you've sat at your computer and found a really fascinating video you wanted to share with your students. Now, how many times do you think you've broken a copyright or fair use law? This glideshow presentation is going to walk you through the ins and outs of copyright and fair use in education, so you don't need to break these laws in the future.

Printed Materials

Teachers may make multiple copies for classroom use, and students and teacher may incorporate text into multimedia for teaching and projects. Make sure to make only one copy per student from legally acquired originals


  • Poems less than 250 words
  • Articles, stories and essays less than 2,500 words
  • Excerpt from a longer work (10% or 1,000 words)
  • One chart, picture, diagram or cartoon per book/periodical issue
  • Two pages from illustrated work that is less than 2,500 words
  • Consumables may not be copied

Videos and DVDs

When using videos and DVDs in the classroom, they must be legally acquired and for instructional use - not for entertainment or rewards. These videos may be used in projects if given proper citation to the copyright holder.


  • Teacher may use these videos in the classroom
  • Copies can be made for replacing lost/damaged/stolen copies
  • Students may use portions of videos for projects - 10% or 3 minutes (whichever is less)

Photos & Illustrations

Teachers and students may use photos and illustrations within projects and lessons.


  • May be used in student work without permission
  • Single works may be used, but no more than 5 images by a single artisit or photographer
  • Check for copyright collections. Information can be found below

Computer Software

Many times teachers and districts may want to install software onto multiple machines. There are many copyright laws in regards to software that is licensed and purchased.


  • Software may be installed on multiple machines via a network
  • Software may be installed at home and school
  • Only one machine at a time may use the program
  • Number of machines/users must not exceed the number of licenses

Password Sharing

In order to save money, districts and teachers will purchase a license and share the password. This is legal if it meets the following specifics.


  • Check if the license allows for multiple uses from a single password.
  • Use at home may be allowed under the license
  • Never share passwords beyond the license - i.e. another school
  • Never share a single use license

PowerPoint Presentations

Why reinvent the wheel? Teachers are notorious for finding other teachers work and using it. This is legal but only with permission!


  • Material from public internet sources may be used with permission
  • However, you must give credit
  • Check to make sure that the material used in the PowerPoint is legally acquired


Music makes the world go 'round. But in the classroom, you need to make sure you follow the copyright rules for integrating music into projects and lessons


  • You can use up to 10% of copyrighted musical material as part of a multimedia program
  • Maximum of 30 seconds per musical may be use
  • Must have an educational purpose


Teachers and students use the internet daily in the classroom. It's very important to know the laws regarding media use from the internet.


  • Images may be downloaded for student projects/teacher lessons
  • Sound files and videos may be downloaded for projects
  • Resources from the web may not be reposted to the internet without permission

Want to know more?

If you would like more information on copyright and fair use of materials, please click on the buttons below. Also, check out some of the videos about copyright laws in education


Created with images by brettneilson - "Copy Machine" • Lyn Lomasi - "Laminated Worksheets 2" • jarmoluk - "library book reading" • Lalmch - "computer macbook tablet" • 1588877 - "hp laptop windows 10 laptop blue laptop" • FotoshopTofs - "music sheet notes music" • FirmBee - "office freelancer computer"

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