Copyright may be be the last thing on your mind when creating your ePortfolio. While you complete the work of selecting artifacts and writing content, copyright and ethical considerations are important parts of that process.
The sentences you craft for your reflections, the photos you upload from your phone, or the videos you shoot and share belong to you. If someone else wants to use a work you created, they are required to obtain your permission unless you agreed to waive that right.
Sounds reasonable, right?
This concept of owning what you produce goes both ways. That perfect picture you found through Google Image Search is someone's creative work. The lack of a posted copyright notice or © symbol does not mean the photo, video, or other work is free for the taking. The copyright holder retains specific rights to the use of the image unless stated otherwise.
So at this point you might be saying, "Rosie, what does this mean? I embed YouTube videos all the time! I copy/paste pictures and sentences. Now you're telling me I'm in the wrong?".
Let's take a look at the details together.
In this guide you'll find basic information on the concept of copyright as well as ways to find and ethically use creative works.*
*The information included in this guide is for reference and should not be considered legal advice.
What is fair use and how does it apply to your ePortfolio project?
Fair use doctrine allows for the use of copyrighted works without permission of the copyright holder under specific circumstances.
You'll often hear the term "Fair Use" applied to the use of works for nonprofit and/or educational purposes. To be able to claim a use as "fair use" you have to consider 4 factors:
If all of this sounds a bit complicated, it's because it is complicated. Fair use legal claims are evaluated on a case-by-case basis so each situation is unique.
In the case of ePortfolios, you have to evaluate your use of someone else's photos, videos, graphics, etc. against the four factors listed above. The potential for a broader audience to see and access any copyrighted works you use may make your case for fair use somewhat unlikely. Yes, you are creating your portfolio as part of your academic, not-for-profit work BUT the fact that your ePortfolio is publicly available to a much wider audience than just your instructor and classmates may affect your claim.
If you'd like more information on fair use, take a look at a more detailed explanation of the concept on the OWL at Purdue's website.