Reflecting on Copyright

This week was eye-opening. I was able to realize how little I knew and understood about copyright qualifications and laws. As a high school teacher, I am aware of students’ lack of understanding when it relates to plagiarism, but after reading the course materials this week I was surprised to recognize how few of my colleagues understand it. Copyright laws on the other hand, appear to have been abused by many people, including my colleagues and myself. I do not think that either of these acts have been done maliciously, rather it is due to ignorance. It is important for educators to have a full understanding of copyright and plagiarism guidelines to make sure they do not face legal actions, but also to make sure that they are working to prepare students to be responsible digital citizens. 

Identifying the differences between plagiarism and copyright infringement were important for me. Defining and avoiding plagiarism is easier for me than doing so for copyright infringement. This is because plagiarism can be defined as using the “original work or works of another and presenting it as your own” (Bailey, 2013). Ethically, this should not ever occur because it is a form of cheating when it comes to academics and is just dishonest overall. Copyright infringement is when someone reproduces, imitates, distributes, or publicly displays something that is copyrighted without permission (Bailey, 2013). One of the many myths that contributes to teachers specifically illegally using outside resources is that using materials for educational purposes is an exception to the law, “but it is not automatically in all cases” (Bringham Young University, 2017). In reality, there are other factors that must be understood in order to use copyrighted materials without permission. 

There are two laws that specifically help educators when it comes to using copyrighted materials without requesting permission. Those two laws are fair use and the TEACH Act. The four factors of fair use are purpose, nature, amount, and effect. All of these need to be considered by educators before using copyrighted materials (dschrimsher, 2010). When a teacher wishes to use unoriginal materials, they should evaluate these four factors to determine if they can do so legally. The TEACH Act also provides people with the right to digitize materials for the sake of education (Piculell, 2013). This is important as the world of education continues to develop and use the internet as an extension of the classrooms. Online learning is an ever growing trend and being able to provide materials to online students legally is as important as doing the same thing within traditional classrooms. 

The large quantity of information transferred over the internet is something has changed the way people exist in the United States, and it has made it easier for people to steal intellectual property (TEDx Talks, 2011). If learning was occurring in a classroom without using these resources, it would be at a less effective rate. So it is for this reason that it is essential that teachers learn to use copyrighted materials, avoid plagiarism, and teach students to do the same so they are able to be responsible digital citizens. 



Bailey, J. (2013, October). The Difference Between Copyright Infringement and Plagiarism. Retrieved from

Bringham Young University. (2017). Copyright basics. Retrieved from

dschrimsher. (2010, February 7). Fair use photo story.wmv [Video file]. Retrieved from

Piculell, A. (2013, April 25). TEACH Act- dmf [Video file]. Retrieved from

TEDx Talks. (2011, July 5). TEDxGoodenoughCollege- Lettie Ransley- copyright in the digital age [Video file]. Retrieved from