Copyright, Plagiarism, and Fair Use

What is copyright?

Fundamentally, copyright is a law that gives you ownership over the things you create. Be it a painting, a photograph, a poem or a novel, if you created it, you own it and it’s the copyright law itself that assures that ownership. The ownership that copyright law grants comes with several rights that you, as the owner, have exclusively. Those rights include:

  • the right to reproduce the work
  • to prepare derivative works
  • to distribute copies
  • to perform the work
  • and to display the work publicly

​What is plagiarism? 

Chris just found some good stuff on the Web for his science report about sharks. He highlights a paragraph that explains that most sharks grow to be only 3 to 4 feet long and can't hurt people. Chris copies it and pastes it into his report. He quickly changes the font so it matches the rest of the report and continues his research. Uh-oh. Chris just made a big mistake. Do you know what he did? He committed plagiarism. Plagiarism is when you use someone else's words or ideas and pass them off as your own. It's not allowed in school, college, or beyond, so it's a good idea to learn the proper way to use resources, such as websites, books, and magazines.


Resources to help students avoid plagiarism:

Citation Machine




What is Fair Use?

Fair Use allows copyrighted material to be used under certain guidelines, without the copyright holder’s permission, for purposes such as news reporting, teaching, research, criticism, and parody.



Parent Resources


Teacher Resources: