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Copyright and Fair Use

Page history last edited by Kelly Ray 4 years, 2 months ago

Copyright and Fair Use for Digital Learning




Table of Contents:


Materials included in BCPS curriculum or used in instruction must comply with BCPS copyright policy, U.S. Copyright Law and Fair Use guidelines. In addition, it is important that BCPS teachers and staff model legal and ethical use of media and respect for the intellectual property rights of others, and require that students do so in the learning products they create.
Curriculum writers, teachers, and students can use these resources to ensure that media and material included in curriculum, instructional materials and student-published products are used in compliance with these rules and laws. These resources may be used to facilitate professional development and student learning. For questions about copyright, consult with your school library media specialist or contact the BCPS Office of Digital Learning at 443-809-4035.


BCPS Copyright Rules & Procedures

  • BCPS Rule 1120: Copyright | BCPS Rule 1120/Form A: Copyright Permission Request
  • BCPS Copyright Procedures Manual  *Moved to intranet.bcps.org/offices/lis/copyright
    • For showing non-curricular films in school for instructional or entertainment purposes: See section VIII. Guidelines for Use of Commercial Media Products.
    • Music teachers:  See especially section VI. Fair Use Guidelines - Print Music Scores/Music 
  • BCPS teachers and curriculum office staff should be aware that copyright restrictions apply to materials posted to a learning management system like BCPS One, or to an online course platform.  Faculty are responsible for ensuring that the materials they post do not infringe copyright.
  • This article illustrates the importance of protecting our school system, its employees, and students against liability for copyright infringement:


Copyright & Fair Use Basics 

Copyright on Campus


Key Terms

  • Legal Use:  Works in the public domain/not copyrighted, used with permission, or used according to the copyright holder’s Terms of Use or Creative Commons license. *Works used according to copyright; no fair use determination needed.

  • Fair Use:  Copyrighted works (all rights reserved) used legally by carefully weighing the four Fair Use factors.  *An exception to copyright.

  • Copyright Infringement:  Copyrighted works used without permission, not according to the copyright-holder’s Terms of Use or Creative Commons license, or without regard for the four Fair Use factors.

The Law  According to U.S. Copyright law, copyright holders have the exclusive right to copy, distribute, display, and perform their work. Others must weigh four factors to determine id their use of a copyrighted work qualifies as a fair use.

The Four Fair Use Factors  *All four Fair Use factors must be weighed to determine if a use of copyrighted material qualifies as a Fair Use.

1. Purpose and character of the use -  How will you use it? Are you using it for direct (face-to-face or online) curriculum-aligned instruction? 

Is the work being used for criticism or parody? Have you transformed the original?

2. Nature of the work  -  What kind of work is it?  Factual, creative, consumable?

3. Amount & substantiality of the work -  How much of the work will you use? Acceptable portions are limited according to format and whether you are using the "heart" of the work.

4. Effect on the market for the original - Will your use affect the copyright holder's profits?




Creative Commons & Copyright-Friendly Resources

1. About Creative Commons



2. Open Education Resources (OER): 

OER are materials for teaching or learning that are either in the public domain or have been released under a license or terms that allow them to be freely used, changed, or shared with others.  Use the resources below to locate OERs.

  • OER Commons - Digital library of OERs, searchable by keyword, subject, level, and standards.

  • Destiny Collection of OER Portals - curated by BCPS Library Media Programs staff. 

  • Search your school library's Destiny Catalog for OERs:

    • You must Log In to your school's Destiny Catalog with your BCPS username and password.

    • Do a keyword search, then click on the OER search results tab. 


3. More copyright-friendly resources: 

 *NOTE: Some Copyright-friendly resource portals may be blocked for teachers or students inside the BCPS network. Some portals may contain images that are not appropriate for students; evaluate before sharing with students.

4. Locating Copyright-Friendly Images: 

Most images found using a general search engine like Google or Bing is protected by copyright. 

Students and teachers can use Google or Bing image search filtering tools to identify copyright-friendly images in search results:







5. Locating Copyright-Friendly Music: 

  • Commercial music and music tracks located via online search are most likely protected by copyright. Such music should not be downloaded and used in school/student multimedia products unless it is used in compliance with the four Fair Use factors.
  • Licensed Music:  BCPS-TV has a subscription to FirstCom Music, a database of music for teacher & student multimedia projects.
    • This subscription is only available for TEACHERS.  DO NOT share the BCPS log-on credentials with students.
    • To provide student access to selected songs for use in their projects, download selections as MP3 files and make them accessible to students via OneDrive or Schoology.
    • Ensure that song lyrics are school appropriate.
    • Cite "www.firstcom.com by subscription" as the source. 
  • Creative Commons/Copyright-Friendly Music lists a variety of online music resources. Some sources may be blocked for teachers and/or students inside the BCPS network. Some portals may contain music that is not appropriate for students; evaluate before sharing with students.


6. Providing student access to Creative Commons-licensed YouTube videos for instruction:  

  • See the YouTube Copyright Guide for information about copyrighted content on YouTube. 
    • Videos licensed with a Standard YouTube License are protected by Copyright.   
    • Downloading copyrighted videos from YouTube using a third-party tool and posting the files elsewhere is copyright infringement.
  • YouTube videos are blocked for student access inside BCPS networks and when using BCPS devices at home. Use the two methods below to share appropriate YouTube videos with students in compliance with copyright restrictions.
  • Use these directions to locate Creative Commons licensed YouTube videos:

7. Using content/media from BCPS-licensed Digital Content.

  • See the database's Terms of Use for copyright restrictions and licensing guidelines. Example: BrainPop Terms of Use, Websites Access and License to Use section
    Always provide attribution to cite the source, e.g. BrainPOP, by subscription.  

8. All content/media published by the U.S. government is in the Public Domain.

  • These works may be used legally. Look for sites with a .gov domain extension. Always provide attribution to cite the source.



  • Always provide attribution (cite the original source), even when using public domain or copyright-friendly media.
    • Citing images/media from BCPS-licensed Databases:  Use the pre-formatted citation provided on the page.
    • It is generally accepted to cite the URL (rather than a formal citation) for digital images used in projects/presentations.
    • If multiple digital images, quotes from digital publications, etc. are used in a document, infographic, etc. it may be acceptable to list the URLs separately in a  "Works Cited."
  • Citing images found via Google or Bing search:  
    • Google and Bing are NOT the original source or the copyright-holder for images found via an image search there. DO NOT cite Google or Bing as the source! From the image search results page, visit the original source page to obtain the correct URL. 


Teaching & Learning Resources

From: Common Sense Education


Standards Alignment

  • AASL Standards Framework for Learners - Standards in Shared Foundation VI. ENGAGE: Demonstrate safe, legal, and ethical creating and sharing of knowledge products independently while engaging in a community of practice and an interconnected world.

  • ISTE Standards for Students - Standard 2: Digital Citizen/Indicator 2c. Students demonstrate an understanding of and respect for the rights and obligations of using and sharing intellectual property.

  • P21 Skills Framework - Information, Media and Technology Skills: Apply a fundamental understanding of the ethical/legal issues surrounding the access and use of information, media, and information technology 


BCPS Curriculum related to Copyright: 

  • Elementary School Library Media:  Students receive direct instruction on copyright through Digital Citizenship units and lessons Library Media classes during first quarter in Grades 3, 4, and 5. Consult with your school library media specialist to determine what concepts students have learned, and to reinforce this learning in the context of creative learning projects in the classroom. 
    • Grade 3: Intellectual Property
      •  Students will explain what intellectual property is and how it is protected under copyright laws.   
    • Grade 4:  Intellectual Property & Creative Commons
      •  Students will explain how content creators can use creative commons licenses in order to specify how other people can use their creative works.  
    • Grade 5: Creative Credit & Citing Sources Slam Dunk
      • How can I respect the rights of content creators and protect my own creative works?
  • Middle School - Grade 6 English Language Arts-Digital Citizenship integration:  ELA teachers implement in collaboration with Library Media Specialist.
    • Creative Credit and Copyright Slam Dunk - Why is it important that I know my rights and responsibilities as a user and a creator of media?  
  • High School - Grade 9 English Language Arts-Digital Citizenship integration:  ELA teachers implement in collaboration with Library Media Specialist.


Additional Resources for Teaching & Learning About Copyright: 



Curriculum Writer Training 2019


1.3.1 Respect copyright/intellectual property rights of creators and producers.

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