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Copyright was created to protect artists' work from being stolen or used without permission/compensation. This worked well for the pre-Internet days, but the Internet has expanded the opportunity for sharing content. Under the existing copyright rules, you could either release your work to public domain or leave it completely protected from anyone else to use.
Just because something is on the web, it doesn't mean that you can use it. EVERYTHING that is captured in some sort of media is copyrighted. Even the notes you are writing - they are copyrighted as soon as you write or type them.
Review the Basics of Copyright from the Copyright.gov website.
The Library of Congress has provided a set of videos to Take the Mystery Out of Copyright. These are animated so that you can share them with your students as well.
Looking for notes on copyright that you can share with your students (and colleagues)? Use these Briefnotes: Copyright for Students.
Creative Commons was designed to provide the artists with control of their work. It allows them to give permission for others to use their work just so they identify who created it.
Creative Commons allows the creator to grant permission to:
- Copy and use the work as long as the creator is identified;
- Make derivative works;
- Distribute the work under your designated license; or
- Profit from the work.
How important is licensing in your realm? Do you think that many of your teachers (colleagues or teachers) fully understand Copyright/Creative Commons? Do they follow the rules? Do they think that the rules are important?