Copyrights in the Classroom

I retrieved this image using Google Advanced Image Search.  I searched for the Supreme Court.  It was the first Washington D.C. building to pop into my mind after reading about copyrights.  I selected to search only images that are free to use or share.  This image is available for reuse but requires proper attribution and cannot be used commercially.  I retrieved this image at

It is necessary for teachers to instruct students in the proper use of copyrighted material.  Many assume that if it is on the internet, it is free to use.  It is so easy to copy an image, a sentence or paragraph and insert it into a document without recognizing the true owner of those words or image.  Students should be taught to respect copyrights in elementary school.  As I have been out of the classroom for a long time, I have never dealt with this issue as a teacher.  We did not have internet access on school computers when I last taught full-time.  However, I have dealt with the issue as a parent.  When completing homework projects on the computer, my children noticed that some pictures on the internet had faded words across the picture.  I explained to them that this is because the owner of the picture doesn’t want anyone to reuse that picture.  It is a very simple concept to understand, even for early elementary school students.  It only took a few minutes to show my children how to check to make sure it is okay to use the image you selected.  It would be just as easy for me as a teacher to model the correct way to search for usable images.

Teachers have many opportunities to use copyrighted information in the classroom under Section 107 of the Copyright Act of 1976.  This section explains that “the fair use of a copyrighted work, including such use by reproduction in copies or phonorecords or by any other means specified by that section, for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research, is not an infringement of copyright”(U.S. Copyright Office, 2012).  As teachers we are given much leeway in the use of copyrighted material for educational purposes.  However, we must be careful not to abuse the privileges we have been given.


Massmatt (April 26, 2009). Retrieved September 13, 2012 from,

U.S. Copyright Office (2012). Copyright Law of the United States of America and Related Laws Contained in the Title 17 of the United States Code. Retrieved September 15, 2012 from




Comments are closed.