Respecting Copyright in Your Notebooking Pages Part 2: Images and Graphics

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copyright for homeschool notebooking

We homeschool moms want to offer our children the best possible educational resources at the most economical price. But we never want to sacrifice ethical behavior.

When we are making printables for our children, what are the rules about use of images, clipart, and graphics?

Generally, if you are making something for your children to use in your own homeschool setting, you can take images from virtually anywhere and use them. Even if those images are under copyright, if your use is educational, you can use those images under fair use doctrine. So don’t worry at all about taking images from the Internet for your children’s notebooks.

But let’s talk about sharing the notebooking pages that you create. If you are using copyrighted images for nonprofit, educational use, you can probably safely use the images under the fair use doctrine, being sure to cite your source of the images. (There are four tests for the fair use doctrine, and you will have to meet those.)

For images the following guidelines are helpful for keeping you within fair use on a project:

  • Use no more than 5 images from one artist or photographer.
  • Use no more than 10% or 15 images, whichever is less, from a collection.

Personally, I avoid using copyrighted images in the notebooking pages that I share even though their use would probably be acceptable under fair use. When I upload the materials online, it seems to go beyond the intent of the doctrine that was written for classroom teachers and schools.

In my notebooking pages, even thought they are free, I prefer to use images that are clearly approved for educational use or even for commercial use. Most sites with images will have a usage policy that will state how the images can be used.

If the licensing is not clearly stated, attempt to contact the owner of copyrighted images and get permission before using. I have done this a few times in the past and have always been met with favor when I explain that I am not selling the notebooking pages and that they are for educational purposes. Of course you will need to credit the image owner however he desires to be credited.

But once you start selling your notebooking materials, the rules change.

If you are gaining a profit from the teaching resource you created, your images would have to be

  • your own creation,
  • licensed for commercial use, or
  • in the public domain.
Do your best to use images as they are intended to be used, giving credit to the owners on you notebooking pages. When in doubt, ask or simply don’t use the image.
Has respecting copyright been an issue in your homeschool? How have you handled it?


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Jimmie Quick

Jimmie is now a veteran homeschool mom. Her daughter Emma is a student of the sciences at a large university in Illinois. Her guide to notebooking—Notebooking Success—guides you through notebooking: what it is; how to use it; how it fits a Charlotte Mason, classical, and textbook curriculum; tips for getting the most educational value from it; and much more. It comes bundled with several bonuses, including a small set of generic notebooking pages that can be used with any topic.

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Lee Reply

I think I’ve always been told yes when I’ve asked. Some have specified only non-profit use. Some have asked for their name to be included. I’ve gotten permission to use some maps as well. But people have been really helpful and some really grateful that I bothered to ask.

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