I’ve had experiences on both the teacher and student sides of the copyright issue, so I will respond to each separately here.
In my teaching, my biggest issue with copyright concerned readings. I had to balance using external readings with the texts I have been required to assign in previous classes. Finding a textbook that includes all of the readings that I want to assign in a class has proven very difficult, so I accept that I will probably have to consider copyright issues when planning all of my courses in the future. Some publishing companies have taken steps to address this issue by providing lengthy lists of possible readings that can be compiled into custom readers. There are some shortcomings with these. For example, if you will only be teaching one section of a course for one semester, a pubisher may not wboant to incurr the cost of custom published a text for your very limited number of students. If you were teaching multiple classes or could plan with another instructor, then this risk could be off-set. As much as I like the print text option and as much as research supports that students still want the option of print textbooks, I am leaning more toward the option of getting this kind of compiled, specialized text in an online format only to cut down on costs for students and help mitigate risk for publishers.
Ideally, I would like to create my own textbooks for courses, but that does involve its own copyright concerns. I plan to explore this option as I create and teach more courses in the future. Though a free, open-access textbook seems difficult and unlikely, it is not impossible. Many such textbooks already exist, and publishers are periodically in need of authors to create such texts. Whether I do it myself or I find one in the open domain, I hope that free, open-access textbooks become a part of my classroom soon.
Honestly, I did not concern myself too much with copyright issues until late in my undergraduate career. Before that, I only thought about the way I should cite things using whatever citation style was pre-defined by my instructor. During my senior year, I worked on several projects that required varying degrees of copyrighted material. I had to think about what was ok to use in class and whether or not it was ok to share those projects outside the classroom. One of those projects was a video that I created in an advanced composition course which used copyrighted music. I used snippets of three different songs for the short video, but outside the classroom context, this would likely still be considered violation of the copyright.
More recently, I have had to think about copyright for works that I plan to post online through my blog and website. Within the last week, I posted a book review on my website for a class project, and I used images to reinforce my points. I used the Creative Commons search functionality to find most of my images on Flickr. I found it fairly easy to find images that worked for my purposes and were available under a Creative Commons license that just required attribution. I did need to include one image of the book itself, so I had to decide how to approach that in a way that didn’t violate copyright.
I am very interested in making my work available under Creative Commons. For my field, publishing is very important, so I have to keep copyright issues in mind as I create any new texts. There are journals that publish articles and reviews for free, and I hope to publish with them in the future to make my work available in an open-access format. The book review that I wrote this semester will be submitted to Kairos, an online open-access journal in the field of rhetoric, and I hope that they will consider sharing my work with their audience.