Article I, Section 8, Clause 8 of the United States Constitution, states: "The Congress shall have power...To promote the progress of science and useful arts, by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries..."
U.S. copyright law gives all creators near perfect control over their creation, with a set of rights that only they may exercise. These include the right to make copies, to prepare derivative works, to publicly distribute, display and perform the work, and (in the case of digital sound recordings) to perform the works over a digital network. (source)
For an overview of copyright and issues related to education and fair use, we recommend reviewing:
There are four ways that you can use copyrighted material:
- Public Domain.
- Fair Use.
- Depending on the nature of the copyrighted item and of your use, you may be able to use it.
- Fair Use Evaluator - American Library Association
- Fair Use Worksheet (.pdf) - UNCW General Counsel
- You can contact the copyright holder for permission. Note that the creator is not always the same person as the copyright holder.
- Sometimes the holder will proactively label their work with permission to reuse with or without restrictions (for example:creative common licenses).
- TEACH Act.