Copyright Basics: Can I Use it on My Web Site?

Learner Description: This page was created for adult students in the Educational Technology program at Boise State University.

What if you visit a Web site and find a great photo that you would like to copy into one of your own Web pages. Can you do this? Is it allowed? How do you know?

Before copying anything from another Web site onto your own consider the following:

The YouTube video on this page is a fun introduction to copyright and fair use. The creator of this video spliced together small clips from cartoon movies. I think you will find it fun to watch. Can you figure out how the movie maker might be able to create something like this under fair use guidelines? The copyright scavenger hunt should help to answer this question and more. Please remember to assume that something is copyrighted unless you have evidence to the contrary or written permission from the creator.

Disclaimer: This activity is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be legal advice.

Copyright Scavenger Hunt Activity

This activity has been designed to help you understand some of the basics of copyright, particularly as it pertains to instructional Web page development. The ultimate goal is to inform you of some of the rules so that you do not inadvertently break them and get into trouble.

Instructions: This activity has been designed for adult students in Dr. Snelson's Internet for Educators course. There are five sections, or hunts, in this activity. Each hunt has one or more questions to be answered based on the information found on the linked Web site. Your job is to hunt through each site and answer the corresponding questions. Check the answer key linked from the bottom of this page when you are finished to score your own work.

Please download the worksheet document to fill in your answers. [Download Worksheet Document]

All links in the hunts below open in a new browser window or tab.

Hunt 1. University Students and Copyright

BSU Campus Guide to Copyright

Answer the following questions:

  1. Suppose you develop a Web site as part of your course assignments at Boise State University. Who owns the copyright for this site, you or BSU?
  2. Are universities under any obligation to accept responsibility for students who have been caught practicing illegal peer-to-peer file sharing?

Hunt 2. The Meaning of Copyright

United States Copyright Office:

  1. What does it mean when something is copyrighted?
  2. What types of things cannot be copyrighted?

Hunt 3. Fair Use

Stanford Copyright and Fair Use:

  1. What is fair use?
  2. What are the four factors of fair use?

Hunt 4. Creative Commons

Creative Commons Licenses:

  1. What is attribution?
  2. What is a derivative work and what type of license allows it?

Hunt 5. Public Domain Hunt

Stanford Copyright & Fair Use-Public Domain Chapter:

  1. What is the public domain?
  2. What four reasons account for works moving into the public domain?

[Answer Key] Check your answers when you are finished.

© 2009, Dr. Chareen Snelson
Boise State University, College of Education, Department of Educational Technology