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If you plan to make a Track, or if your Track has been put on hold due to copyright infringement, please read this.

A Track is a composite work based on other people's original online creations. In Tracks with 2 to 5 links, don't collect more than 2 of your links from one source. In Tracks with 6-15 links, don't collect more than 2 or your links from one source. If you wish to do so, please get permission first. Tracks with possible copyright infringement will be put on hold until they are corrected.

U.S. Copyright Law |  Our Policy on Intellectual Property |  When We Hold Tracks |  TrackStar's Copyright Compliance

U.S. copyright laws are intended to protect an author's right to obtain commercial benefit from valuable work, and to protect the author's right to control how a work is used. Most works are copyrighted the moment they are written, and no visible copyright notice is required. When educators make TrackStar Tracks, they are creating a composite or derivative work, usually without the expressed permission of the authors of the links. Many people make the argument that Web page authors welcome links to their pages and give implicit permission for this, but the courts have not yet ruled on this. When you make links from one domain the main component of your Track (by linking more than is allowable from one site), you run the risk of copyright infringement. We suggest that in Tracks with 2 to 5 links, no more than 2 links can come from any one site. In Tracks with 6 to 15 links, no more than 3 links can come from any one site. For more detailed explanation on linking and copyright, we encourage you to read Linking Rights by Brad Templeton.

Internet copyright has been strengthened recently in the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. Most educators know most about the "fair use" statute of copyright. Fair use laws are meant to allow certain reproduction of work, in this case, for purposes of teaching and scholarship. An educator requires four things to claim fair use protection for copyrighted materials.

You need to adhere to all four to claim protection:

  • purpose - educational or commercial?
  • nature of the work - educational or commercial?
  • amount of resource used - 10% or 1,000 words (smallest of the two) of a text-based item
  • effect - will they lose money by you using it?
For more detailed information on fair use, see Fair Use of Copyrighted Materials by the University of Texas.

Note: Amount of resource used

From text resources, you may use 10% of the overall work, or 1000 words, whichever is smaller. The limit is still vague for Internet resources, so choose responsibly. Some pages have 200 words, some have over 2000. We have no way of knowing what you'll link to, or what percentage one page constitutes of the overall site, which is why we provide the rough guideline of keeping a third or fewer links in any Track to one site. Keep these print guidelines in mind, because Internet copyright limits are still unclear. The lack of clear Internet guidelines means you should err on the side of caution.

TrackStar is designed to help students explore a variety of sites related to a topic. HPR*TEC does not support breaking apart a single site and placing its separate pages in a Track, even though this might assist some students. It is better to link to the site once, and use the annotation to direct students to different parts of the site if needed. Some Webmasters tell us that multiple links to their site in one of our Tracks would be a re-creation of their work on our site, and that this would be perceived as theft of their intellectual property. We provide the following rough guidelines because of the continued ambiguity of U.S. copyright law concerning the Internet.

  • In Tracks with 2 to 5 total links, including more than 2 of the Track's links to the same site is considered copyright infringement.
  • In Tracks with 6 to 15 total links, including more than 3 of the Track's links to the same site is considered copyright infringement.
  • Pages whose authors expressly forbid the linking of their sites, or inclusion of their content in framesets, can not be included in TrackStar. Some authors contact us directly when they notice they have been linked to, and others place a notice on their site. Please scan any potential resource for such information.
  • Exceptions to this policy are governmental sites (.gov), your own personal Web site, and your own school's Web site. Also, ThinkQuest, Quia and YouTube can be linked to more than stated in this policy if the sites are created by different authors.

Use your best judgment when collecting links, and know that we will hold Tracks that have questionable copyright infringements. We notify you of your Track's status if you have provided us with a valid e-mail address. This is for your legal protection as well as ours. While a Track is on hold, only the author can view it.

Given the aforementioned laws and current debates concerning the Internet and intellectual property, we've done our best to design and maintain TrackStar in a way that supports the rights of the original site authors, while still empowering teachers to use small amounts of online material to guide students through annotated online lessons. To ensure this, we:

  • review every Track for possible copyright infringement
  • put potentially infringing Tracks on hold until the Track author edits them to comply with guidelines
  • comply with requests from content originators who do not want their sites linked to TrackStar
  • include "Annotations by: Track author name" in the Track title so that users know that the annotations only, and not the link content, are authored by the Track's compiler
  • offer both a text version and frames version for those with concerns that framed Tracks may infringe upon copyright
  • offer the URL of every page in the annotations window, in addition to the hyperlink itself

We attempt to keep abreast of Internet copyright advances so that we can comply with them and help our users understand them. We encourage teachers to know basic copyright statutes and model responsible decision-making in their use of the Internet in the classroom.



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