DiscoverLearn/Perform Mixtape3.10. Copyright and Fair Use Laws
3.10. Copyright and Fair Use Laws

3.10. Copyright and Fair Use Laws

Update: 2019-11-22
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3.10. Copyright and Fair Use Laws
Learning Objective: Summarize how copyright and fair use laws relate to the production of materials for training delivery


It is important to get permission and give credit where it is due, so as talent development professionals creating materials for training delivery it is important to use copyright and fair use guidelines to do so. Whether it’s print or digital materials for training, it will be important to understand how laws and regulations impact the design, delivery, and measurement of learning or a performance initiative. 


Fair Use
: air Use is a legal doctrine that promotes freedom of expression by permitting the unlicensed use of copyright-protected works in certain circumstances. Section 107 of the Copyright Act provides the statutory framework for determining whether something is a fair use and identifies certain types of uses—such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research—as examples of activities that may qualify as fair use.” When considering if objects or materials are under fair use, you should examine the four requirements:


  1. The purpose is for nonprofit, noncommercial educational use (typical cases):

  2. The nature of the copyrighted work is consistent with the proposed use.

  3. The amount of the original work involved some small uses can be considered an infringement, that is, a small portion involves the core idea in the copyrighted work.

  4. The effect of using the copyrighted work is not likely to deprive the copyright holder of sales or market interests

There are also “Works Made for Hire” where the employer or the other person for who was hired for the work was authoring training instruments for an employer or organization as training materials to be designated their copyright. 


Copyright Law:
protects the expression of ideas but not the ideas themselves in some tangible form e.g. book, magazine, video, film, etc. Although the exact words in a book may be copyrighted the ideas in the book are not.  Things that cannot be copyrighted: ideas, processes, procedures, methods of operation, concepts, principles, or discoveries; however, a tangible description, explanation, or illustration of these may not be copyrighted.


In the United States, registering the work with the US Copyright Office provides legal protection and redress in state and federal courts; a copyright holder has the exclusive right to:


  • Reproduce the copyrighted work

  • Prepare derivative works (adaption) based on the copyrighted work

  • Distribute copies of the copyrighted work to the public by sale or other transfer of ownership, or by rental, lease, or lending

  • Perform the copyrighted work publicly, in the use of motion pictures or other audiovisual works; and

  • Display the copyrighted work publicly, in the case of audiovisual work.

To avoid plagiarism, that is passing others works off as your own, give credit and recognition for knowledge and information you use for your training materials. It is important to obtain consent and permission for those items with copyright, and be prudent to include all citations or other attributions to copyrighted work. See more in AOE #6: Managing the Learning Programs; 6.8. Legal, Regulatory, and Ethical Requirements. Here are my thoughts and contributions to the topic, as I think copyright is really important and giving credit to creators -- artists, authors, and content makers.


BONUS: Public Domain
: The public domain refers to creative materials or works that are not protected by intellectual property laws, including copyright, trademark, or patent laws. These materials are owned by the public, not an individual author, artist, or creator.  Public domain materials and work may be used without obtaining any permission; however, no one is permitted to claim ownership for it. E.g. Pexels has Public Domain Images


READ MORE: Getting Started with Copyright, Fair Use, The Public Domain, and Creative Commons via @laurapasquini


As I think we ought to share and share alike, I thought I would offer some advice and guidance for how to license your work with a Creative Commons (https://creativecommons.org/) open license on it. E.g. Flickr Creative Commons


RESOURCE: To Share Your Work, You Gotta Put a @CreativeCommons License On It! By @laurapasquini


How do you share and license your training materials? Where might you find Fair Use other materials (e.g. images, audio or video clips, etc.) for your learning and training development? Tell me about it. I am always looking for a new resource.

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3.10. Copyright and Fair Use Laws

3.10. Copyright and Fair Use Laws

Laura Pasquini