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Copyright, Fair Use & Digital Rights Management

Resources for those interested in learning more about how copyright law impacts the use of print and digital media within education and workforce preparation settings. The fair use exclusion in copyright statute is of value to educators who may need to understand what is legal and what is not.  The Fair Use: AIM Center Policy Brief may be of particular interest to educators interested in supporting learners who may benefit from diverse and alternative formats.  Sources of information regarding digital rights management to offer access to copyrighted works for selected individuals are provided. Links to information about the TEACH Act of 2002 which pertains to privileges for educational or military distance learning are also provided.


Copyright is a form of protection provided by the laws of the United States (Title 17, U. S. Code) to the authors of “original works of authorship,” including literary, dramatic, musical, artistic, and certain other intellectual works. This protection is available to both published and unpublished works.

Fair Use

Educators often refer to the “fair use” exclusion in copyright statute as a means to provide materials to students who cannot use print-based materials effectively; however, the term and the exclusion are often used without sufficient knowledge of the elements upon which “fair use” is based. The four elements of “fair use” included in Section 107 of U. S. copyright code should be understood along with the limitations that apply to its use.

Digital Rights Management

Digital Rights Management (DRM) technologies attempt to control what can and cannot be done with media and hardware.

Fair Use

Fair use of a copyrighted work for criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, or research is not an infringement of copyright.

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Digital Rights Management (DRM)

Authorizing technologies implemented by rights holders and publishers to limit the distribution and use of proprietary content.

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Equipment or system where principal function is creation, conversion, duplication, control, display, interchange, transmission, reception, or broadcast of data.

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