Copyright Concerns

Important Note

The Digital Media Suite and its staff cannot provide legal consultation for copyright law.  We can advise about fair use, plagiarism, etc., but the final decision and responsibility to use materials from other creators is left to the user.


Using materials from other creators requires that you be aware of the legal and ethical aspects of that use.  There are concerns with copyright law, licensing, sharing, modification, distribution, and plagiarism.  With all those concerns in mind, as well as the rapidly changing world of digital content, how can you and your students make use of content responsibly?

There is no one answer that will apply to all use cases.  There are many answers that have many caveats and exemptions.  Here are three tips to keep in mind:

  1. All materials on the internet are copyrighted, and most have a terms of use license.
  2. While it is technically possible to download almost any image, video, or audio file from the internet, the terms of use license determines how you are allowed to view, listen, or read the material (example: YouTube's terms of use state you are not allowed to download any materials unless a link is provided).
  3. Fair use exemptions and Creative Commons licensing help to enable the use of materials.  Fair use applies to copyright law, while Creative Commons is a licensing model used by many creators/owners online.

 Below are links to sites that provide information about some of these.

Copyright Law

University of Louisville Resources

Creative Commons

Specific examples to help