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Copyright Information: Teaching

Your guide to information & resources on copyright.

Teaching in class or online has unique needs and challenges with regard to copyright. Below are tips and legal resources for helping to identifying and meet those needs.

Sharing Works in Face-to-Face Instruction

In general, section 110 allows for a broad range of displays and performances in a face-to-face classroom as long as those displays/performances aren't online and able to be disseminated widely. There are exceptions, but those exceptions primarily deal with anything beyond a physical classroom of students enrolled in a specific course.

That said, an important note regarding videos or sound recordings: only short clips typically can be lawfully displayed and only clips pertaining to the educational point needing to be made.

Visit our section on Fair Use for more details.

See also section 110.

Sharing Works in Online/Distance Education

Do we have the same freedoms online as we do in the classroom? No, it's different. The TEACH Act governs what is permissible online, although Fair Use may also be considered.

Here are some important guidelines to be aware of:

  1. To qualify for this special exception under the TEACH Act, the work you are performing/displaying (for example, a video clip, a song, or a photograph) must be one that was “lawfully made and acquired.” You need to make make sure you have a legitimate copy
  2. There is more of a limitation on how much of the material you can use. You can perform notable portions of a “nondramatic literary or musical work” (i.e., poems and songs are okay, but not plays or operas!), “or reasonable and limited portions of any other work” with the amount being what would be “typically displayed in the course of a live classroom session.” For example, That means that although you might show a whole movie over several days in a classroom, the law allows for only a fairly short portion of a movie online.
  3. Since you can display a "limited portion" of something copyrighted, it's important to note that that applies to textbooks as well.
  4. The display/performance must be “directly related and of material assistance to the teaching content” of the online class.
  5. The school must, to the extent “technologically feasible,” limit the reception of the online information to students enrolled in the course. Best practice: no downloads, no forwarding of links.
  6. The law does not allow for distributing things like textbooks, course packs, or sound recordings that students would normally purchase on their own.

TEACH Act., 17 U.S.C. § 110. (2002).

In addition to copyright law, we also have a legal obligation to honor licenses with publishers. Currently one publisher disallows online educational use of its articles. That is the Harvard Business Review. For more information, please see the Harvard Business Review's licensing notice.

What if I want to place something on Course Reserve?

What if I want my students to use Interlibrary Loan?

One of the specified conditions under copyright law (Section 108)  is that the photocopy or reproduction is not to be "used for any purpose other than private study, scholarship, or research." If a user makes a request for, or later uses, a photocopy or reproduction for purposes in excess of "fair use," that user may be liable for copyright infringement. Therefore, a request by all students of a course for a particular book or article is not lawful.

The TEACH Act & Sharing Works in Online Teaching

It is important to note that for an instructor and institution to use the TEACH Act (Section 110), the institution must have copyright policies in place and distribute them to faculty, staff, & students; and the instructor must inform students in a course in which copyrighted material is used that it “may be subject to copyright protection.”.

Linking, Framing, and Inlining

Links to articles, e-journals, & e-books in the Library's collection can be put in PantherLearn, subject to the terms of the licensing agreements and considering Fair Use. There are best practices for doing so.

Tips concerning Linking & Copyright:

  1. Provide links to the e-journals and e-books rather than uploading a PDF copy of the item.
  2. It is usually not permissible to scan and upload a personal copy of an article into PantherLearn without first obtaining copyright permission from the copyright holder.
  3. Deep links into web pages are less stable and likely to change; links to home pages are more reliable. Deep links also may bypass needed copyright and licensing notices.
  4. Direct links are preferable; framing or embedding could involve copyright and/or trademark infringement.
  5. For educational and liability purposes, make students aware of the copyright restrictions of web-based material. When possible, acknowledge the source and its copyright holder(s) of any information you use.

Additional Resources:

U.S. Code Basics