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Internet Law


This page was created to help teachers abide by the laws, school policies, and acceptable use policies concerning various media. 

Is copying and pasting from the Internet legal?
Basically, assume that all internet material is copyrighted unless it is a government or court document, or it states otherwise.  You must always cite your sources to avoid plagiarism, but is this enough?  Probably not.  You should also gain permission to use the source.  Generally, sending a simple e-mail to the webmaster requesting permission to use the source will be enough to begin the process. 
Can students perform copyrighted nondramatic literary or musical works under educational fair use guidelines?
The answer is, "yes."  Under Title 17, Chapter 1, Section 110(4) of US Copyright Law, this can be done unless the copyright holder objects in writing at least 7 days before the performance.  Furthermore, admission may even be charged as long as the profit is used for educational or charitable purposes.
Can I put student work on the internet?
That depends on your district's policy concerning posting of student works.  However, you should never post personally identifiable student information or work on the web without first obtaining student and parent/guardian permissions.  There are too many potential dangers out there, and it is always better to keep you and your district legally covered at all times.
Further Reading on Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA)
Are my district e-mail and district internet activities private?
No.   Current court rulings indicate that the districts also have the right to monitor electronic communications.  The district or employer provides those services for job related purposes and to enhance campus, district, and parental communications.  Since it is a job related service that is a privilege and not a right, First Amendment rights do not apply.  They can even legally tell you what you can and can't do with those services.  Refer to your district's Acceptable Use Policy for Electronic Communications.
Court Cases:
United States of America v. Eric Neil Angevine
Bonita P. Bourke, et al. v. Nissan Motor Corporation in U.S.A.
Can the district or employer tell me what to do with my own website that I created at home with my own computer and other resources?
It depends.  If the website has is derogatory toward the district, school, or employees, or if it posts confidential or personally identifiable student information or works, then there may be adverse consequences from the district or other individuals.  Otherwise, it falls under your first amendment right to free speech.
Cases of interest:
What information can kids input on the internet at school?
Students can't post personally identifiable information such as name, address, phone number, etc.  This is due to the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA). 
Further Reading:
Additional Resources related to Internet Law:
The book titled, The Internet and the Law, What Educators Need to Know, by Kathleen Conn is an excellent resource that is easy to read and understand.