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Copyright and Fair Use: Online Teaching

This subject guide provides a general introduction to copyright and fair use.


The purpose of this information is to provide faculty with a better understanding of Copyright usage in the classroom.

While copyright issues can be difficult, here you will find the information to assist you with the Do’s and Don’ts of copyright usage in the classroom.  

Copyright Basics for Faculty

Tips for Sharing Materials Online

  1. If links are publicly available online, link to them.
  2. If links are available through subscription access, follow terms of use (ex: an article from an academic database). It’s safest to link to the article and have students log in and access the material with their STC credentials.
  3. If you wish to make copies, consider the four factors of fair use. (See Fair Use section for more information):
    1. Purpose and character of use
    2. Nature of the copyrighted work
    3. Amount of work used
    4. Effect on the market

Source: Webinar: Copyright in Online Teaching and Learning by the Academy for Teaching Excellence

  1. The four factors of fair use still apply.
  2. Link to materials whenever possible.
  3. Try to avoid material created and marketed for course use (ex: supplementary videos for a textbook that you have not adopted for your class). This is unlikely to fall under fair use.
  4. Password-protect materials (ex: use Blackboard to post your materials).
  5. Do not allow downloading unless you created and own the content.
  6. Notify students that the media is for educational use only.
  7. If copying clips under fair use (ex: making a compilation of clips to show in class), keep clips brief and only use what is necessary to get your point across.
  8. Provide attributions to the copyright holder of the materials being used.

Adapted from Webinar: Copyright in Online Teaching and Learning by the Academy for Teaching Excellence and Fair Use and Copyright for Online Education: Examples: Video by The University of Rhode Island Library

Finding and Creating Content

Classroom Use Exemption

Under the Technology, Education and Copyright Harmonization (“TEACH”) Act, instructors are generally allowed to screen video clips and movies inside the classroom for educational purposes. This exemption does not apply to distance education.  However, fair use may still apply.

For more information, see the American Library Association's issue brief, Streaming of Films for Educational Purposes and Exceptions & Limitations: Classroom Use, Fair Use, and more by the University of Minnesota.

Books on Copyright and Fair Use

undefined   Copyright infringement

   Author: Ullmann, Carol

   ISBN: 9780737766509




 Copyright plain & simple

 Author: Bensenjak, Cheryl

 ISBN: 9781564145123




 Libraries & Copyright

 Author: Teng, Jo; Mcdonald Ian





 Doing research to improve teaching and learning: a guide for college and university faculty

 Author: Williams, Kimberly M.