This is the "What is Copyright?" page of the "Copyright for Digital Media Assignments" guide.
Alternate Page for Screenreader Users
Skip to Page Navigation
Skip to Page Content

Copyright for Digital Media Assignments   Tags: citing, copyright, images, music  

This guide provides resources regarding copyright for students using images, video, and music for Digital Media Assignments.
Last Updated: Jul 2, 2014 URL: Print Guide

What is Copyright? Print Page

Copyright Sources

General resources on copyright law:


  A Fair(y) Use Tale

Prof. Eric Faden of Bucknell University (fairly) compiled clips from Disney movies to create a video explaining Fair Use. Double-click the video to see it larger in You Tube.


What is Copyright?

Do you ever wonder why:

  •  iTunes charges you $1.29 per song?
  • videos in You Tube of recent episodes of The Walking Dead are quickly taken down?


Copyright is a federal law that gives creators of media the exclusive rights to copy, distribute, and mash up the things they create for a limited time.  As you work on any assignment that includes digital media (e.g., images, video, or music) it is good practice to make sure you are abiding by copyright laws. 


What is Fair Use?

Fair use is a doctrine of US Copyright Law, allowing for the limited use of copyrighted material without requiring permission from the copyright holder. It permits legal, non-licensed citation or incorporation of copyrighted material in another creator's work using a 4-part balancing test. The tricky part about Fair Use is that the balancing test is subjective and open to interpretation.

The four factors judges consider are:

  1. purpose and character of your use
  2. nature of the copyrighted work
  3. amount and substantiality of the portion taken, and
  4. effect of the use upon the potential market.


Additional Fair Use Resources

  • Fair Use
    An excellent explanation of Fair Use by Stanford University Libraries. It also includes a list of several music cases with explanations on the courts' decisions.
  • Fair Use Checklist
    A useful tool from Columbia University Libraries that will help you begin your own assessment to see if your project can be considered fair use.
  • Fair Use Evaluator
    Another helpful tool for you to evaluate the "fairness" of the use of a copyright work. This tool is more interactive and will take you through a series of online forms and provide you with a color coded "fairness" result.

Your Librarian Contact Info

Profile Image
Sheila Stoeckel
Logo - AIM
Contact Info
443D Memorial Library
728 State St.
Madison, WI 53706

Phone: (608) 265-2755
Fax: (608) 265-2754

Please Give Us Feedback

Was this information helpful?

How useful is this page?
(1 = Not Useful, 5 = Very Useful!)

Additional comments:

Your Email:


Loading  Loading...