Growing Up Digital
Creative Credit & Copyright

Have you ever found yourself copying or taking screenshots of something you found online? This is a lot easier than trying to retype the text or recreate the same image, but did you know you may actually be breaking a federal law?

What is Copyright?

The Copyright Act of 1976 provides protections to the creators of original content. The Act grants content creators exclusive control and ownership over the works they create. If others wish to copy and use a creator's work, they must get permission. These protections extend to literary, dramatic, musical, architectural, cartographic, choreographic, pantomimic, pictorial, graphic, sculptural, and audiovisual creations.

Certain works do not require permission to use. These works are in what is referred to as the public domain. There are three ways that works are available to use in the public domain:

  • Work is authored by the U.S. Government
  • Work was authored prior to 1923
  • Work was not eligible for copyright protection

Fair use is a term that is used to describe limited instances when it is okay to use a small portion of a copyrighted work without permission. In these cases, the work must be used for purposes of criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, or research. The following four guidelines must be followed:

  1. Only use a small portion of the work
  2. Must add new meaning to the work
  3. Rework it and use it in a totally different way
  4. Use it for non-profit purposes

Creative Commons is a type of license which content creators may choose to allow their work to be used in limited ways without permission, but with proper credit. See the types of Creative Commons Licenses on their site.

Baltimore County Public Schools Rule

BCPS Rule 1120 requires that permission be obtained from a copyright holder in order to “reproduce, modify, display, perform, or distribute the copyrighted work.”

Permission can be requested using the Copyright Permission Request form (Rule 1120, Form A)

What can be done? Students, parents, teachers

  1. Know the symbols:
  • Copyright

  • Creative Commons

  • Public Domain

  1. Request permission
  2. Acknowledge the author or content creator
  3. Buy it (if necessary)
  4. Use it responsibly



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