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Copyright: Copyright for Faculty

Basics of Copyright

This page is designed to assist faculty in making informed decisions when using copyrighted resources.  For more background information on copyright, please review the Copyright Basics tab.

Copyright and Course Management

When using copyrighted materials for your course there are several options you can explore:

  • Check to see if the resource is available through the Masland Library or if it is an Open Access resource/Open Educational Resource (OER)
    • Live Stream Media or use a permalink, DOI, or other stable URL to direct students to a legally acquired digital copy of the resource, instead of embedding the material directly into the course management system.  This avoids copyright infringement and the need to acquire permission to use the material. 
    • Place physical copies that you either own personally or that are owned by the library on reserve for students to use for a designated time frame.
  • Check to see if the resource is in the Public Domain.  If so, you can freely use the resource.
  • Check to see if the resource is licensed with a Creative Commons License, that allows for your intended use of the resource. 
  • Contact the library to explore the possibility of the library purchasing the required resource. 
  • Explore alternative resources that could meet the need.
  • Determine of the use of the resource meets one of the copyright exceptions. 
  • Seek permission from the copyright holder if none of the above exceptions or options meet the need.

When using copyrighted works, you should always include a copyright notice on any works reproduced for a course. 
Example: Notice: This material is subject to the U. S. Copyright Law; further reproduction in violation of the law is prohibited.

Copyright and Publishing/Presenting

When publishing or presenting your own scholarly works, you will need to consider the following aspects of copyright:

  • The faculty member's rights as the author/creator for the work being published/presented.
  • The use of other's copyrighted material within the work.

Faculty Member as Author/Creator

  • In general, the creator/author of a work is the copyright holder, except in the case of works made for hire.  Copyright protection is granted automatically and it is not necessary to register for copyright or use the © symbol.  However, if you are interested in pursuing registration, you can review the process via the Copyright Registration Portal.
  • The copyright holder can grant permission to other's to use their work.  They can also apply a free Creative Commons License to their work, which allows others to use their work, without requesting permission.

Copyrighted Materials within Publications/Presentations

  • When a work that includes copyrighted materials such as images and other audiovisual materials, graphs, charts, testing instruments, etc. is published or otherwise made publicly available, there are additional copyright considerations. 
  • In addition, to citing sources, you will also need to do one of the following if the use of the copyrighted material falls outside of the Fair Use Guidelines:
    • Link to or otherwise reference the work without embedding it in the assignment
    • Replace the material with something that is either in the public domain, has a Creative Commons License, or otherwise clearly gives permission for the intended use.
    • Seek permission from the copyright holder to use the material.

Copyright Exceptions

Face-to-Face Teaching Exception (Residential Courses)

This exception can only be used when teaching a residential course, it does not apply for distance teaching or for posting materials within a course management system (see the TEACH Act and Fair Use sections for additional information).

If ALL of the following requirements are met, the resource may be used without requesting permission.

  • Use a legally obtained copy of the work - a copy that is purchased, borrowed from the library, borrowed from a colleague, family, or friend; or acquired lawfully for the users personal research
  • Use the work in a nonprofit educational institution as part of teaching the content of the course
  • Display or perform the work during face-to-face teaching within a classroom setting or similar place used for instruction.  This only applies to displaying or performing the work during class, it does not allow for copying or distributing to the class.  See Fair Use Exception for more options and information.
TEACH Act (Distance Education Courses)

The TEACH Act was passed by Congress to address copyright issues in the digital environment by expanding the rights of online educators in order to make them closer to face-to-face teaching.

  • Use the TEACH Act Checklist to determine if the use of the copyrighted materials meet the requirements for the TEACH Act exception.  
  • ALL requirements on the checklist must be met in order to use this exception.  If all of the requirements are not met, you may still be able to use the material under the Fair Use Guidelines. 
Fair Use Exception (Residential and Distance Education, Scholarly Presentations and Publication)

Fair use refers to the limited use allowed by the public and educators of otherwise copyright protected works.  It is an exception to the legal requirements that reproduction or use of copyrighted works be licensed. 

In the United States there are is a four-step test to determine if a use of a copyrighted work falls within fair use:

  1. The purpose and character of use
  2. The nature of the copyrighted work
  3. The amount and sustainability of the portion taken
  4. The effect of the use upon the potential market

Good Practices

Below are some good practices when sharing content with a class:

  • Stream all audio and media files and link to articles whenever possible.
  • Use course management system to limit or restrict access to the resource
  • Include a copyright notice on any works reproduced for a class.
    • Example: Notice: This material is subject to the U.S. Copyright Law; further reproduction in violation of the law is prohibited.
  • Avoid "anthologizing", which is defined as the creation of an ad-hoc, textbook-like compilation of chapters and monographs from existing sources, in or out of print.  If you decide to anthologize you will need to obtain permission for each work included in the collection. 
  • Maintain a record of all permission requests and responses
  • Retain Fair Use Checklist analysis for each resource as proof of due diligence, for each resource that is determined fair use. 

Additional Information