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Online Learning and Teaching

This guide will support faculty, staff, and students in the transition to and practice of online (distance) teaching and learning.

Note on Copyright

Note: This guide is not intended to be legal advice, nor should it be considered such. It is designed to provide general information about copyright to consider while researching and teaching. Neither Touro College Libraries nor the staff are legal counsel to any college/university party.

Copyright in the Classroom in the time of COVID-19

When shifting your class from in-person to online, copyright needs to be considered — but the good news is that most of the rules that apply to in-person teaching at Touro also apply online. Some quick tips:

  • When showing videos in class, try to limit yourself to brief clips and encourage students to access longer videos outside of class through the library or other legal source.
  • Control access to your online documents by using Canvas instead of emailing students. If you need to share resources outside of Canvas, link to the original source, rather than making a copy or attaching a document.
  • If you are unsure whether your use is a legal one, ask the Libraries for help!

For more information, please see:

Copyright and Fair Use from the Touro College Libraries

“Rapidly shifting your course from in-person to online” from the University of Minnesota Libraries

Copyright in a Crisis Guidelines, adapted from Open Oregon


Who can give copyright advice?

  • ‚ÄčLibrarians can give advice but are not lawyers

  • The TC Information Security Office may be able to advise ( or (212) 463-0400 x5383)


What can you share with students?

  • You can share open educational resources (or works in the public domain)

  • You can link out to freely available online resources that aren’t openly licensed

  • You likely have a good fair use argument for sharing all-rights-reserved materials with students online in a restricted setting - for example, in your learning management system which is behind a password

  • You can give your students a persistent, proxied link to resources in the libraries’ databases - ask a librarian if you need help


Copyright Symbol

Copyright is a form of protection provided by US laws to creators of content, or those who generate “original works of authorship,” including literary, dramatic, musical, artistic, and certain other intellectual works, both published and unpublished; in print, electronic, online, or any other format. Copyright exists to foster creativity, giving certain exclusive rights to writers, musicians, artists, and other types of creators, the exclusive rights to their works.

Learn More:

Fair Use

Fair use is an important part of U.S. copyright law as it provides a means of balancing users’ needs against the exclusive rights of copyright holders. Fair use is not a straightforward concept, rather, any fair use analysis must be conducted on a case by case basis, considering factors and the individual circumstances at hand; it does not guarantee against a claim of copyright infringement.

The Four Factors Determining Fair Use:

1. The purpose and character of the use, including whether the use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes;
2. The nature of the copyrighted work used;
3. The amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole;
4. The effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.
Take notes on your evaluation; in the unlikely event that your use is challenged, it will be important to show that you made a good faith calculation of Fair Use before proceeding with using the materials.
Asking the TC Libraries for help can also better protect you from copyright infringement! For more information on "COVID-19, Copyright, & Library Superpowers," please read this article by Kyle K. Courtney, the Copyright Advisor for Harvard University.
Is your use a Fair Use?

Online Teaching

Copyright in online learning and teaching environments is governed by the Technology, Education, and Copyright Harmonization Act (TEACH Act), which was passed in 2002. Because of the different way of sharing materials in an online class, the TEACH Act applies to the transmission of materials online. There are many requirements to meet for an action to be protected by the TEACH Act, but other exemptions, like Fair Use, might apply better or more easily.

Many libraries have published TEACH Act Toolkits to guide instructors in using copyrighted materials ethically, responsibly, and legally. The original TEACH Act Toolkit, from the Louisiana State Libraries, provides TEACH background and explanations, checklists, guides, vocabulary, and commonly asked questions. Touro College librarians are also available to assist in assessing the applicability of the TEACH Act to your situation.

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