Copyright & ID

Copyright & Intellectual Property

According to information on the U.S. Copyright Office website, copyright extends to a multitude of areas and can be quite confusing for the layperson or novice Instructional Designer to navigate.

Here is the short and sweet of it; content created can be protected under the Copyright Law of 1976. The Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998 is the updated copyright law to include assurances for digital content (Arshavskiy, 2017). Copyright and intellectual property laws are the protections put in place to either grant or restrict permission for someone or some entity to use someone else’s created work.

Created works can be music, images, videos, icons, even phrases, etc. One must follow the proper procedures and obtain legal permissions to use copyrighted material; not respecting these steps can lead to hefty fines and penalties (Costa, 2018).  

*Fun Fact: Just including the copyright symbol © on your eLearning work provides you copyright protection. However, filing for formal copyright protection makes it easier to defend your ownership. Click here to find out more (Arshavskiy, 2017).

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The Ins and Outs of Usage

A lucky designer finds materials that have a Creative Commons type of license because this is public copyright where the creator grants permission to use their material. There may be stipulations about distribution and making changes, so it’s best to check what type of creative commons license is attached to the product.

Here is a link to the Creative Commons website, which provides valuable information and clarification.

            A wise designer chooses to use the filter option when searching for images, videos, music, or other materials. Setting the parameters for your search results by their license type is not a 100% guarantee that the material won’t still have some sort of copyright hurdle, but it does filter out many options that you might not want to deal with, and it increases your chances of finding resources that fit your needs.

*Always take the time to research copyrights, acquire author information, use clearinghouses, request permission, and properly reference or cite other people’s work (Medley, 2019).

Helpful Resources

* For additional information on copyright laws and all of the important specifics, click here.


Arshavskiy, M. (2017). Copyright Protection in eLearning Design: What you need to know to protect your work. Retrieved from

Copyright Law of the United States. Retrieved from

Costa, A. (2018). Copyright and Intellectual Property in Instructional Design. Retrieved from

Medley, R. (2019). Copyright for Instructional Designers and Trainers. Retrieved from

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