Educational Media

Copyright Edition                Volume 1, #2                               

Commercial Video & DVDs and Public Performances

Cautionary Tales from the Courts

You Taped a TV Show, and Now You Want to Show it to Your Class

Great Websites on Copyright and Education

Library Resources on Copyright

Online Classes and Copyright

RTC Policy on Photocopying of Copyrighted Materials

Educational Media
This three-times a year newsletter is published by the Renton Technical College Library. It is intended to spotlight the use of  educational media— including copyright issues.  If you have any suggestions for topics, please call the library at     (425) 235-2331, or  email     Laura Staley at



Click here to see the first issue of Educational Media, Volume 1, #1


Everything I’m doing is legal. 

Isn’t it?

 “After all, isn’t there an educational exemption in the copyright statutes?” Yes, there is.  But the educational exemption in US Code 17 (the copyright code) is limited.

Some things you can  probably do:

  • Show movies, display pictures, images, or graphs to your classes.  That’s covered under section 110.

  • Make multiple copies of  a short (under 2500 words) article  and use it in your class  the next day.

  • Place books on Reserve in the library, or loan them out.  That’s covered under section 109.

If you’re not quite sure what you’re doing is within the law,  look at section 107—Fair Use.  (See the story below.)   


Trivia:  Copyright first appeared in China in 1042 AD, to protect the work “Nine Chinese Classics".

Become Your Own Copyright Advocate -

Know Fair Use

Fair use allows the public to use parts of a copyrighted work for criticism, scholarship or teaching.  Fair Use is a balancing test.  You review four factors and argue that on balance, your use is fair.  Essentially you are becoming your own advocate.

 The four factors considered when arguing Fair Use are:

1.  The purpose of the use.

Why are you making this copy?  For educational purposes?  Courts are more likely to find a non-profit educational use to be Fair Use.   Or  for commercial gain?  The courts tend to find that if you are making money off the work, you can afford to pay the original creator to use it.  Commercial use is less likely to be deemed Fair Use.

2.  The nature of the publication. 

Was the original work creative?  If it was a work of fiction (and especially if it was expensive to make, such as a movie) the courts will be less likely to consider using it to be Fair Use.  Factual creations have less protection from the courts.   Also, was the original work published or unpublished?  If it was unpublished, the courts are far less likely to find Fair Use.

3.  The amount of the work used. 

When only a small amount of the work is used, the more likely it is that the courts will find that the use is fair.  If you choose the “heart” of the work – the most important part of it – the courts are less likely to find Fair Use.

4. The effect on the market for the work.

Is your work going to complete in the market against the work?  Perhaps even replace the work?  If so, the courts will probably find  your use is not Fair Use.  If you copy chapters of a book, rendering it unnecessary for your students  to purchase it as a required text, this is probably not going to be seen as Fair Use.  

Consider your use.  If you are copying materials to give to your classes, and you want to argue Fair Use, take a moment to consider these factors .  Then make your argument, based on the four factors listed above, and evaluate it.  Do you believe your use is Fair Use?

     There are no definite rules about how many factors need to weigh in your favor in order to have a court decide that your use was Fair Use.  There is some speculation  that courts tend to give a little more weight to the fourth factor, the effect on the market for the original use. 

Tuesday Previews - Popcorn Provided

Instructional Improvement and the RTC Library are teaming up to offer      you previews of classroom  media resources. 

Once a month we’ll take an hour to show clips from a few of the library’s videos, DVDs, or CDs, and discuss ways the material might be used in the class.  We’re choosing materials that can be used in any classroom, from welding to phlebotomy.   And we’ll provide the popcorn!

Winter Quarter Previews:

         January 20, 2005                                 

         Time: 3-3:45 PM  Room J203

         Her Own Words - Women in Nontraditional Careers

         RSVP x5724



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