These questions and answers should not be construed as legal advice. These are general guidelines.
When teaching in a classroom, how can I use copyrighted materials?
Only use lawfully-obtained materials. Include copyright notices. Only use the amount that is necessary. Apply the four factors of fair use in the materials you choose.
Exactly how much of a material can I use and have it be considered fair use?
Fair use is intentionally vague, and so there is no exact number of paragraphs, or percentage of a work that can be definitively used. In general, use only what is necessary. Even if you use only a small part of the work, if it's considered the "heart" of the work, it may not be considered fair use.
How do I obtain permission for copyrighted materials in the classroom when fair use is not an option?
You must identify and contact the copyright holder and obtain permission from them. The library can assist with copyright clearance.
What are the guidelines when creating course packs?
You must get permission from each copyright holder for the materials you wish to include in a course pack. Please contact the library for copyright clearance assistance. Entire journals or books cannot be included in a course pack; neither can workbooks, answer sheets, or other such materials considered "consumable"; that is, publications that are intended to be written in during the course.
Can I use copyrighted materials on Canvas? What about a class website?
Using materials on Canvas or on a class website is a little trickier than face-to-face, but it can be done. In general, use lawfully-obtained materials with copyright notices added. Restrict use to your students only. We highly recommend linking to materials the library subscribes to. Apply fair use to the materials you wish to use.
Can I use Canvas for reserves? Can students download articles I've put on Canvas?
As with face-to-face teaching, only use lawfully-obtained materials, include copyright notices, and restrict use only to your students. In most cases, for materials you wish to use for multiple semesters, or if you wish to use a large amount of a particular work, you must get permission. Contact the library for copyright clearance assistance.
You should not let students download materials because they may further redistribute them, and this would be a violation of copyright law. A notice to this effect should be placed in the materials cautioning students against making copies and redistributing materials, and stating that the materials are provided under fair use principles.
Can I link to a website on Canvas or class website?
Yes, there should be no problem with doing this.
Are images I find on the Internet under copyright? Can I use them in my teaching?
Yes, images, whether on the Internet or not, are subject to copyright. Unless otherwise stated, if you find an image on the Internet you should assume it is under copyright. In face-to-face teaching, display of lawfully-obtained images is permitted by section 110(1) of the Copyright Act. In other cases, apply fair use principles to determine whether an image can be used in your teaching or whether you should first ask the copyright holder for permission. You may want to specifically look for public domain images, or images licensed under Creative Commons licenses, for use in your teaching.
Can I email articles to students?
In general, you should avoid this. It is a much better idea to link to the article from your class website (restricted to your students only) or Canvas.
How can I use more freely accessible materials in my teaching?
There are a number of ways. Try using open educational resources, which often are free to use and distribute. Look for open access journals to utilize in your teaching, many of which are licensed with Creative Commons licenses. You can also check out the materials in our institutional repository, Touro Scholar
, which has many freely accessible materials.
American University Library. (2010). What faculty need to know about copyright for teaching. Retrieved from http://www.american.edu/library/documents/upload/Copyright_for_Teaching.pdf
Butler, R. P. (2014). Copyright for academic librarians and professionals. Chicago, IL: ALA Editions. This material can be found here.
Legal Information Institute. 17 U.S. Code § 110 - Limitations on exclusive rights: Exemption of certain performances and displays. Retrieved from https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/17/110