Copyright, fair use and other questions regarding teaching

There are a lot of opinions of fair use and the like… I have a few questions regarding the use of copywrited material in teaching.

In teaching an English song to the class…are we allowed to make worksheets and exercises out of the song lyrics?

Can we copy the song off the radio and use it in class?

When trying to take a break from our regular texts, can we copy and use articles from Let’s … magazines or other sources? We have no intrest on using the whole magazine.

I’ve had several people ask me to read things for them and put it on CD. Am I allowed to read copywrited works if it is something they own. DO I have to have them sign a disclaimer stating that my work is not to be resold etc?

Lastly… by being an alumni of a certain university… I have access to the wire services that include complete news paper stories for the last twenty years or more…

My lic. agreement says I can e-mail stories to friends and quote them. There are several interesting stories regarding Taiwan history and things like “Darlie Tooth Paste”.

It’s been a while since I was in school so please refresh me on the rules of quotation. How much can one copy and quote of an article and still be legal?

And is there any problem with a just paraphrasing the articles in question?

Thanks for your help.


Apparently your query has not elicited a response because your Taiwan readers are unfamiliar with the notion of copyright. As a lawyer, let me see if I can lay out the basics of Taiwan law. Can you copy a book or magazine for your class? Sure, you paid for it didn’t you? And you didn’t sign a contract prohibiting copying. So long as you don’t copy the copyright info from the first page you should be all right. As for songs, sure you can copy them off the radio, but you might want to check out the night market instead for good deals on pirate CDs. Or, many songs can be downloaded off the internet for free with an mp3 player. As for paraphrasing, I can see you know what you’re doing. That’s the technique that makes it legal to sell Calvin Klean jeans and Naturally Goo Goo t-shirts, and it works equally well with literature. Rather than hassling with extensive paraphrasing, though, you may wish to save time by simply misspelling a few words here and there and altering the punctuation. Not only will that render the piece an original work, but it will give it more of a local feel. Good luck.

Gao Li Tsai
Attorney at Law