The Legal Use of Digital Media refers to three main categories:

1. Copyright
2. Fair Use
3. Creative Commons

It states the protection requirements of any digital media. Let's take a look at the categories!

1. Copyright

Copyright protects authorship or someone's original work. Copyright Law of the United States states "Copyright protection subsists, in accordance with this title, in original works of authorship fixed in any tangible medium of expression, now known or later developed, from which they can be perceived, reproduced, or otherwise communicated, either directly or with the aid of a machine or device"( 116). Works that can be copyrighted are:
- Literary works
-Musical works
-Dramatic works
-Pantomimes and choreographic works
-Pictorial, graphic, and sculptural works
-Motion pictures and other audiovisual works
-Sound recordings
-Architectural works

On the other hand, copyright does not protect:
- Ideas
-Method of operation

If copyright is violated there are certain consequences. Lawhon, Ennis-Cole, Lawhon state that "Violations can result in legal fees, awarding of compensation, loss of position and prison time"( pg. 480).


Teacher Response:
Teachers should inform their students about copyright and the consequences that follow it if violated. Teachers could even use this simple "fairy tale" for their students to help them grasp the concept!

2.) Fair Use

Fair use is used to "determine whether the use made of a work in any particular case is a fair use"(Copyright Law of the United States, pg. 19). The factors that are considered when determining Fair Use are:
1. The purpose and character of the use
2. The nature of the copyrighted work
3. The amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole.
4. The effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.

Link to Fair Use Act:
Fair Use Act


It is stated that placing no more than 10% of a work online is generally considered Fair Use. Lawhon, Ennis-Cole, Lawhon, state that "Fair use guidelines are more liberal if the access to the online media is restricted"(pg, 480). Digital Rights Management or DRM allows software or documents to be accessed"only under a set of specific circumstances". Fair Use Act even allows audiovisual media to be used for online learning if Digital Rights Management is implemented!

3.) Creative Commons

Creative commons is a non profit organization that allows authors to mark their creative work with the freedoms they intend the work to carry.

Creative Commons allows people to choose a copyright license to attach to their work! This license reserves reserves some rights to the author, while giving other rights to the public.

The interest of Amicus Curiae, states that "more than 10,000 objects have been marked with Creative Commons licenses"(pg. 1). It continues to add, "75% reserve the copyright owner with commercial rights to the content, while authorizing the public to non commercial reasons"(pg. 1), 65% grant derivative rights and 2% dedicate their work to the public domain"

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