Can I Use Copyright/Trademark Images for a CD that will be Sold for Educational Purposes?

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“Thank you for taking time to answer my question concerning trademark, images/copyright , licensed logos. I am a kindergarten teacher and I have been using “environmental print” in my classroom for quite some time to help children learn to read. I have collected hundreds of images from Google image in the way of restaurants, food items, movies, cartoon characters, movie characters, snacks, drinks, storybook titles, toys, games and many other types of “picture print” that is familiar to emergent readers. I have done extensive research about the use of these images for my own classroom use. I find that they are perfectly legal. I am confused about the next step I am ready for. We have put these icons into cd’s to present to other teachers in curriculum development (how they too might use it) Still okay to use however,…this is where it gets muddled and I have received both yes and no answers to the following question. If we were to have these CD images available to sell to these educators, so they too could use them to teach reading, is this legal or would I have to contact each entity for permission to do so? Again, I appreciate your feedback and time.”

[NOTE: Articles and answers on DearEsq., while written and published by lawyers, do not constitute legal advice, and no attorney-client relationship is formed by your reading of this information. You should always consult with an attorney for any legal situations.]

As your research has probably already shown, copyright law contains a set of provisions known as “Fair Use” under which certain limited and very narrow uses may be exempt from infringement claims. The U.S. Copyright Office has a Fact Sheet explaining Fair Use. There are few definitive or absolute answers, but in your case the limited use of certain copyrighted images for illustrating your own classroom lessons may be permitted.

However, when you begin reproducing these images to share with other instructors, even if you making copies to give them away or only sharing them with others in your same school, I do not believe the answer is as clear as you may believe; you have crossed into a gray area.

Certainly, if you were to attempt to sell the CD you would have to obtain permission from each copyright owner. Publishing companies have entire departments of people who do nothing but track down copyright owners and obtain permissions… it can be a lengthy and costly process. Your best bet may be to get your own digital camera and go out snapping your own photos. You will own the copyright and can do with those images whatever you desire without paying royalties. And you may get better images in the process!

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Author: Ray Everett-Church, Esq.

Ray Everett-Church is a privacy and security consultant with PrivacyClue LLC and is co-author of "Internet Privacy for Dummies"

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