Authentic Material and Requesting Copyright Permission to Use it

If you create a test with authentic materials and you want to share that test with others, you should do a few things:

(1) In your test, cite the source and the date the material was downloaded/acquired. I normally print this right under the borrowed material in small font. If you modified the original material, note that the material has been modified by you.

(2) Download the source material and save it on your own site or computer because the original may go away. A good program from ripping, for example, video from YouTube is this one: After you have saved the material (picture, text, audio or video), put it where you (and your future test takers) can access it, like  on a more secure and freely accessible website (YouTube is banned in some countries, so linking to material on that site is never a good idea because maybe some of your population won’t be able to access it, besides, the material could be taken down at any time). A good site you can use to store your audio/video media is Viewpoint Sign up for a free account and put your ripped materials there, and then in your test you can link to the materials through the Viewpoint server (Viewpoint URLs and embed code).

(3) Request copyright permission. You can do this by emailing or mailing a form like the one below to the people who own the material. Keep a database of all the copyright requests you have made. If you hear back with a yes, great! You are secure in using the material as you described you would use it. If you get a no, take it off the test. If you don’t hear back, well, this is a fuzzy area. You could drop the material or maybe use it, but if you use it, I would say this is at your own risk. I sometimes go ahead and use material for which I hear nothing back after requesting copyright, but I keep a record of having asked permission. I often do NOT hear back from source owners in China, Africa, or the Middle East, and this could be because in those countries copyright permissions are normally not requested, and therefore your request just gets thrown away. So no response may be expected. Again, this a gray area. If I am not selling the test, I may use material for which I got no response after requesting copyright, but I still properly cite the source on the test.

Rule of law: Always ask for permission, cite properly, and don’t sell or reproduce anything unless you have permission!

Gray area: You will have to use your discretion in using material for which you have requested copyright but did not receive a response. At least keep a copy of the request and document when you made the request (and two whom you sent the request) and cite the material properly in your test.

Good luck!

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