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Learner Description:

This Scavenger Hunt is a training exercise for high school educators. The primary purpose of this exercise is to highlight how the internet both simplifies and complicates the idea of copyright, fair use, and plagiarism for teachers, and provides some practical experiences in the application of administering these principles in the classroom. A secondary purpose is to familiarize educators with how to find and interpret resources related to copyright law, plagiarism, and fair use doctrines on the web so they can share those resources with students and peers.


Below are ten questions involving the application of copyright, fair use doctrine, or plagiarism concerns. Print out the work sheet found here, and record your answers in the appropriate blanks. Remember to include the authority used to confirm your answer. Below the question section are a list of resources where the answers to these and other intellectual property questions may be found. For insights into the importance of Fair Use and related issues, read this article by Poynter Institute columnist Aly Col'n.

Ethics in Action: Copyright, Fair Use, and the World Wide Web

  1. Researching a paper on memorials planned for people killed in the terrorist attacks on the world Trade Center in New York City on September 11, 2001, a student discovers this photograph at Just a Moment Photography of the Memorial in Light illuminated each year on the anniversary of the attacks. Is the picture under copyright? How do you know?
  2. Can the student use it to illustrate her paper?
  3. How do you know?
  4. Can the student print out a copy to hang on her wall?
  5. Trying to explain where a proposed memorial will be located on what was ground zero, your student wants to use a photograph she found taken June 8, 2002 by the Geoeye Ikonos satellite. Can your student use it for her paper?
  6. Your student wins an award for her paper.You are speaking at an educator convention. Can you use her source material in a lecture to colleagues at a conference?
  7. At the convention, a publisher approaches you about publishing a book on students in the electronic classroom. Can you include the student’s source material in your chapter on use of the World Wide Web by students for research?
  8. This graphic of the World Trade Center attacks illustrates the part of your student's paper describing the attacks and why the towers collapsed. Is it available to her?
  9. Trying to explain why it is taking so long to build the memorial, your researcher discovered a map of toxic contamination. Is the map found here subject to copyright?
  10. Why or why not?
  11. New York Magazine published an overview of the impact of the attacks, including a number of important statistics. Your student would like to include a self generated graphic using the statistics she found there. Is that a violation of the magazine's copyright?.
  12. Your student wants to include some text in a 2003 Op Ed piece that appeared in the New York Times written by Eric Fischl. What must she do in order to ethically and legally use Fischl's comparison of the World Trade Center Ground Zero to the battlefield at Gettysburg.

Answer Key

Educator Resources

1. The Poynter Institute: Ethics and the professional cost of plagiarism

2. Federal STI Managers Group: Use of Government Created Materials

3. Yale University: Proper Citation and Avoiding Plagiarism

4. United States Copyright Office: The Basics

5. United States Copyright Office: Fair Use Doctrine

6. Electronic Frontier Foundation: Intellectual Property Issues, Cases, and Guidelines

7. American Intellectual Property Law Association: For the determined researcher.

8. Media Festival: Chart of Copyright Application for Educators.

9. University of Texas: Copyright in the Electronic Environment

10. Library of Congress: Taking the Mystery out of Copyright

These resources will provide the answers to all of the questions asked above. The problem? Here's a hint. Read the name of resource #9. If there's a whole association of lawyers dealing with this issue, you can count on complexity.

© Paul F. Desmarais: All Rights Reserved