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As a teacher I often like to ask my students to complete projects that require them to role play an employee at a well-known company. For example, I've taught a class on gentrification before, and I had my students study different neighborhoods to decide where to best open up a new Starbucks franchise. To help create the simulation, I drafted a fake letter from a fake person who works for the Starbucks central office addressed to the students of my class. The letter essentially explained the assignment for the students from the perspective of the fake Starbucks executive. As a little ornamental touch, I used the Starbucks logo in the header of the letter. I'm wondering if this practice is lawful or not.

I've read a little about Fair Use and how educators are given more leniency from copyright laws if certain requirements of the use are satisfied. If I work at a non-profit, public institution, with instruction taking place in-person, and with the clear understanding from students that the assignment is a simulated experience of working for a company, am I allowed to use a company's logo in designing my course materials?

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I agree that you have a very strong copyright fair use case. Although the logo is creative and you're using the entire thing, your use is for a nonprofit educational purpose and does not affect the value of the work.

The logo is also probably trademarked. But you aren't using the mark in commerce, so I don't think that will be a problem for you.

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