To Use or Not to Use: Copyright Compliance and Fair Use / by Tyler Wood

Teaching in Korea, where copyright protections are minimal and still being pushed for by the US government in trade deals, means that I don't have the, albeit minimal, restraints of copyright law. Having said that, I make it a point to teach my children about the academic ethics of copying and plagiarism, and practice what I preach. Although I have never been told to worry about what I copy (I've actually been told to find a password for sites so the school can use it) I try and make sure I am above board. It's true teachers get a lot of leeway on copyrights, but I am also quite skeptical of that leeway holding up in court having had many discussions with an intellectual property lawyer in Seattle. I go about covering myself by creating many of my handouts and visuals myself so there is no need for stepping on toes.

My first year in Korea was full of mad dashes in books and searches on-line looking for worksheets or visuals for my lessons. Then one day it occurred to me that it was just as fast to make exactly what I wanted than to search the Internet for something I was able to use that wasn't even what I wanted exactly. I'm currently attempting to create my entire year of lessons, in my own work, in worksheets and in visuals. I have even begun discussions with my school for a book-less class next year that would utilize my curriculum. So instead of dealing with other people's school related work, I am just making my own. A possible negative side-effect of those companies copyrighting their work, for them. I do, of course, use other works that would be covered under the fair use clause of the copyright law, however, and think I am perfectly within the law with my use (PBS). The issue I do have is trying to teach students raised on cheating being an acceptable practice how to cite, quote, or otherwise make sure they are giving credit to the people they are copying. This is seemingly a completely foreign idea here. This is, for me, the most important part of this issue - academic honesty. For more information on copyright for educators and what fair use is click below.

Click below for my handout on the subject of copyright for the students.

Copyright Lesson Printable Handout



Copyright Society of the USA. (2014). Copyright Basics. Retrieved from 

Dowshen, S. (2011, Sept.). What is Plagiarism? Kids Health. Retrieved from

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