Copyright for Educators


As teachers, we are held to one of the highest ethical standards in the community.  There are many who feel this higher standard is justified due to the impact teachers can have on the lives and futures of the children they teach.  However, there are other ethical guidelines teachers must follow in the education profession as well.   How can teachers incorporate information for students on copyright?  What lessons can we use for teaching copyright laws?  Here are some resources that serve as useful guidelines for teachers to follow when planning activities in the classroom related to the use of images, music, videos and other digital resources in varying formats.
 1. Association for Computing Machinery. (2011). ACM Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct: Preamble. Retrieved from 


Summary: The Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) requires its professionals to make ethical decisions in the conduct of professional work. Therefore, teachers must follow the same standards as other computing professionals honoring property rights such as copyrights and patents, as well as give proper credit for intellectual property by not taking credit for other's ideas or work. This holds true even in cases where the work has not been explicitly protected by copyright or patent. 

2. College of Education at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, (2002).  Implications of Educators: Guidelines for Intellectual Property in the Classroom Education, Copyright, and the Internet, An Example of a School District's Poly Fair Use.  Retrieved from

Summary: The Fair Use rule allows intellectual material to be used, without a license or payment of royalty to the owner, if the purpose of the use is criticism, news reporting, scholarship, research, or teaching. However, this does not mean limitless use. Using a resourceful approach to cite and keep track of Internet sources allows teachers to use intellectual property ethically by giving proper credit to the person(s) responsible for it. Not only does this show respect for the considerable time and effort it takes to create an original work, it honors the trust bestowed upon educators to uphold the respect and confidence in their profession.

3. Florida Department of Education. (2005). Code of Ethics – Education Profession: 6B-1.006 Principles of Professional Conduct for the Education Profession in Florida. Retrieved from


Summary: Florida educators are required to value the worth and dignity of every person. This means maintaining honesty in all professional dealings including the pursuit of truth, devotion to excellence, acquisition of knowledge, and the nurture of democratic citizenship. Respect for intellectual property is an important component to the successful attainment of these standards. Cooperating with colleagues so that the whole institution works effectively should not be confined to the school site alone; cooperation should be extended to all citizens. Moral sensitivity and the awareness of how our actions affect other people should include integrity when copying and distributing original material that is the intellectual property of others. These types of professional decisions by educators affect all parties concerned.

4. Ericdigest.org. (2003). Moral and Ethical Issues in Teacher Education. ERIC Digest. Retrieved from http://www.ericdigests.org/2004-4/moral.htm

Summary: According to the National Education Association, educators must strive for the highest possible measure of ethical conduct in order to uphold the respect and confidence of one's colleagues, of students, of parents, and of the members of the community. Educators must exercise every effort to promote and encourage the application of professional judgment. Additionally, the public bestows trust and accountability upon educators to provide the highest quality of the services, including prevention of teachers from misrepresenting professional qualifications

5. Tek.Xam. (2004). Legal and Ethical Aspects of the Internet. Retrieved from http://www.tekxam.com/StudyGuide/concepts/Ethics-and-Legal/TekXam_Legal_and_Ethical_Study_Guide.html

Summary: Websites have evolved into powerful tools supporting communication. However, it is the responsibility of all computing professionals to be aware, as well as, avoid electronic theft by reproducing or distributing copies of copyrighted works. This includes retrieving and displaying information from websites without proper reference. Since all educators may not understand that information openly available on the Internet is not unrestricted material but, someone else's intellectual property, school administrators should ensure teachers are provided with the proper training they need to conduct themselves as ethical computing professionals in the workplace.