TeacherTools: Ethical Use of Information

I’m always amazed at how little students know about the ethical, legal, and responsible use of information.  A few weeks ago, I taught over a hundred 6th-grade students about copyright, fair use, and public domain.  Before the lesson, most students believed that if an image or video or song was on the Internet, it was free for them to use – especially if they were using it for school.  WRONG!  Everyone should assume that nothing on the Internet is free to use.  At a minimum, credit should be given to the creator unless the website being used specifically states credit is not needed.

I have found that some educators are confused about fair use as well.  Just because something is being used for school does not give educators carte blanche to use whatever they want and how much they want.  There are limitations and guidelines.  For example, under fair use guidelines, only 10% or three-minutes of a video can be used for educational purpose withcopyrightout asking permission of the producers.  However, if a teacher has been reading the book The Outsiders with her class, he/she can show the movie The Outsiders to students in the classroom to help connect the curriculum.  BUT, the principal of the school would not be compliant to the fair use guidelines if he/she showed The Outsiders movie to the entire school in the gymnasium as a reward or incentive.  That would be a copyright violation.

Four factors should be considered when determining whether or not one is compliant with fair use guidelines:  What is the nature of the work to be used?  How much of it will be used?  What is it being used for (parody, criticism, commentary, etc.)?  What effect, if any, would the use have on the market?

As adults and educators, it is my opinion we should be modeling the ethical, legal, and responsible use of information on a daily basis.  Regardless of the project, as educators when we ask students to locate and use any information, we should be requiring students to give credit to the source.  What good does it do students to receive a lesson in ethical, legal, and responsible use of information if the adults in their lives don’t demonstrate or expect the same?

Heartland Area Education Agency

Copyright, fair use, and public domain is confusing.  But it’s the responsibility of all of us to make sure we are teaching students how to be good digital citizens.  Below are some great links about copyright and fair use for teachers and students to reference when needed.

Copyright Kids

Copyright with Cyberbee

Jean Trimble

Westerville Partners for Education


(image to the right taken from commons.wikipedia.org)

Posted on November 6, 2014, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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