The use of outside sources enhances and gives credibility to assignments in any class. However, students must recognize the sources by using proper citation. Under the Copyright Law of 1975, the rights of the copyright holder as well as provisions for the use of the materials were established (Willis, n.d.).
What is a copyright and fair use? A copyright allows a person to have the sole right to reproduce or allow others to reproduce a copyrighted material and fair use is the use of copyrighted material within certain parameters (Willis, n.d.). Four factors define fair use as set by Section 107 of the Copyright Law:
(1) the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes;
(2) the nature of the copyrighted work;
(3) the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and
(4) the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work (Cornell University Law School, 2009)
Although the Copyright Law allowed schools, instructors and students to utilize copyrighted works, a debate began over the use of these materials in Distance Education. This debate led to the Technology, Education, and Copyright Harmonization (TEACH) Act signed by President Bush on November 2, 2002. The TEACH Act allows education, specifically distance education, to use copyrighted material to " balance the needs of distance learners and educators with the rights of copyright holders" (Copyright Clearance Center (2005). To utilize copyrighted material in distance education, the use must meet the following criteria:
1) The institution must be an accredited, non-profit educational institution.
2) The use must be part of mediated instructional activities.
3) The use must be limited to a specific number of students enrolled in a specific class.
4) The use must either be for ‘live’ or asynchronous class sessions.
5) The use must not include the transmission of textbook materials, materials “typically purchased or acquired by students,” or works developed specifically for online uses (Cornell University Law School, 2009)