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Copyrights and Plagiarism



In our digital world, it is important to be able to protect our own work as well as use others' copyrighted work without permission.  Students are accessing large amounts of information, reworking it, and sharing it with others not only in the classroom but also around the world.  Because it is getting easier to find, copy, and distribute content, we need to make sure students understand how to use copyrighted materials in the correct way.

In a time when we may be using more technology to continue learning outside of our schools, copyright rules may be more on your mind.  If you are looking for information about how to address the materials and resources you are using, please use these resources and tools:


A copyright is a law that protects the creator's ownership of and control over the work he/she creates.

Common Sense Media - Copyright and Fair Use Animation

If you want to use something that is copyrighted you must:

  • Check to see who owns it
  • Get permission to use it
  • Give credit to the creator
  • Buy it (when necessary)
  • Use it responsibly

According to the ConnectSafely website, Fair use is an important part of copyright that allows people to copy or re-use a copyrighted work without the creator’s permission in limited ways that are still fair to the creator. Fair use allows limited use of copyrighted work without permission for purposes such as:

  • News Reporting
  • Commentary
  • Education
  • Parody
  • Creation of new work that uses someone else's work in a new way

Fair use guidelines are not black and white but ConnectSafely lists the following criteria you can use to work from:

  1. You use the original for a new purpose such as commentary, news reporting, criticism, or education, or to create a new work that transforms the original by adding new expression. For example, using a whole song in a school project – an educational purpose – would generally be fair use.  However, it might not qualify as fair use if the student wanted to expand the purpose by publishing the project to potentially a large online audience.
  2. The original you want to use is primarily informative or factual in nature, as opposed to highly creative. (But, courts often give this factor less weight than the others, so highly creative works can still be subject to fair use when other factors point that direction.)
  3. Where possible, you use only a small portion of the other person’s work and only as much as you need to make your point – such as a single paragraph from a much longer text or a short clip from a much longer video. In some cases, it is still fair use if you need a whole creative work, like a whole video or song, but in general, the more you use the less likely it is to be fair use.
  4. Your use won’t be able to replace the original in the marketplace – the owner/artist would still be able to distribute their work as they choose. Put another way: buyers looking for the original would not be satisfied with accessing your work instead. If your use could undermine the creator’s ability to sell or make money from the work, it’s less likely to be fair use.


A creative commons license allows work to be used for free as long as you give credit to the creator.

Still not quite sure?  Go to the ConnectSafely website about copyright or check out this quick-guide for teachers and students below:

Click image above for full document



Copying and presenting another person's work as your own is illegal and considered plagiarism.

WriteCheckVideos - Plagiarism

All of the following fall under the topic of plagiarism:

  • Handing in some else's work as your own
  • Copying words or ideas from someone else without giving them credit
  • Failing to put a direct quote in "quotation marks"
  • Changing a few words but using the same sentence structure without credit
  • Copying so many words from a source that makes up a majority of your work, whether it is cited or not
  • Taking written content from one language and translating to another (Google Translate or other tools) without citation - Translation Plagiarism 

How to protect yourself from plagiarism:

  • Consult with your teacher if you have any questions
  • Take effective notes about where you are gathering information
  • When in doubt, cite your source (text AND images need to be cited)
  • Understand how to paraphrase (write it in your own words)
  • Be sure to determine the credibility of information before gathering and citing

Helping Students Avoid Plagiarism

For questions about this information, contact Amanda Albrecht (608) 267-1071