Copyright Law

On May 31, 1790, the first U.S. Copyright Law was enacted to protect the rights of authors of books, maps, and other original materials. The law was signed by George Washington, and its passage was due mainly to Noah Webster who worked unceasingly on its behalf. Starting tomorrow, June is Homeschool Copyright Awareness Month. How much do you really know about copyright law? Take this quiz and find out!

Copyright Quiz

Which of the following scenarios are acceptable? Answer TRUE or FALSE for each one. (Answers at bottom.)

1. I’m desperately in need of an essay right now – I procrastinated too long and it’s due tomorrow. Luckily, I found one on the internet that perfectly fits my topic. To save time, I’ll just use that one and change some of the wording to make it mine, and everything will be fine. True or False?

2. I purchased an e-book online and downloaded it to my computer. Because I paid for it, the copy belongs to me, so I can share it with my friends if I want to. True or False?

3. A nice poem has been circulating through the e-mail. I don’t know who wrote it or where it originally came from, but since it’s been made freely available via e-mail, it must be okay for me to post it on my blog. True or False?

4. I found a book that I really like. It was printed in 2006 but it doesn’t have the © symbol in it or say “copyright” anywhere. I did some research and learned that it was never registered with the U.S. Copyright Office; therefore I am free to copy it. True or False?

5. Somebody (not the author) posted the text of an entire book (it’s a small paperback with only 90 pages) on the Web. The book is copyrighted 1981 and is sold on Amazon, but since it’s been posted online it’s okay for me to print out a copy for free. True or False?

6. I had to buy a literature study guide for my English class. I’m going to make a copy of it for my own use and then I’ll sell the original on eBay. This is perfectly acceptable since I paid for it. True or False?

7. I’ve posted on my web page the full text of two chapters out of my favorite book. As long as I give the author credit, I’m sure it’s okay for me to do this as she will be glad to have the free publicity. True or False?

8. I really like this song, and I found a copy of it on the Internet. That must mean it’s in the public domain and free to download. True or False?

9. I’m volunteering to teach a summer Spanish class for kids. There are ten students and they will all need to have their own workbook pages. I’ll copy the workbook that I have and won’t charge the students for the copies, but just give them away. Since it’s for nonprofit educational purposes, I’m allowed to do this. True or False?

10. I saw a book at the library that I want to have for my own collection. The book was published in 1994, but it’s out of print. I can just make a copy of it since the book must be in the public domain now. True or False?

11. I belong to a file sharing group. Members scan in the books that we own, upload the files, and then everybody in the group can share. It’s okay to do this because no money changes hands. True or False?

12. I borrowed a book from the library that included a CD with additional materials. Since it’s a library copy, I can duplicate the CD and freely share it with my friends. True or False?

13. I scanned in some illustrations from Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (1866), illustrated by John Tenniel [1820-1914]. I’m going to color the images and use them on note cards, t-shirts, and other gifts that I will sell on CafePress. The copyright has expired so I’m legally allowed to do this. True or False?

ANSWERS: Questions 1-12 are FALSE! Question 13 is TRUE.

How did you do? Did some of the answers surprise you? Many people don’t understand the copyright law, so just because someone else is doing it doesn’t mean it’s right. A simple way to look at it is this: if lots of people were to make photocopies or download the material for free, would it hurt the creators’ ability to make a living from their work? Or how would you feel if you had worked really hard on something, but you didn’t get any credit for it (or someone else took all the credit)? Don’t cross the copyright line!

The above quiz was inspired by www.HomeschoolCopyright.com. See also:

http://www.benedict.com – Copyright Website

http://www.templetons.com/brad/copymyths.html – 10 Big Myths About Copyright Explained

http://copyright.lib.utexas.edu – Crash Course in Copyright

http://www.library.pitt.edu/guides/copyright/faqanswers.html – Copyright Information: FAQ

http://www.copyright.gov – U.S. Copyright Office

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