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Information concerning copyright (and copywrongs)

How do I use copyrighted material in my classroom?

Online and face to face classrooms are treated differently by copyright law.  However, for both types of classroom setting you can:

  • use the work in accordance with an existing license.  For instance:
    • The library negotiates licenses to online content that allow for classroom and reserves use.  Any material located in the library's collection may be used in your class.
    • The work may be issued under a creative commons license where the creator has clearly established what others can do with his work.
  • request permissions from the copyright owner.

Play a video, display a picture, perform a play in a face to face class:

Face to face classroom situations are addressed by U.S. Copyright Act Section 110(1) that allows faculty to display and perform (i.e. play a video) copyrighted materials during classroom teaching activities as long as: 

1.) it is a regular part of instructional activities and directly related to teaching content and

2.) no admission charge is collected. 

Section 110 does not address copying or distributing work.

Make and share copies of limited portions of copyrighted works:

The Fair Use Doctrine, or section 107 of the U.S. Copyright Act, allows reproduction of copyrighted works under certain circumstances like teaching, criticism and scholarship if, for each use, the four factors of fair use are considered in determining whether the use is fair.

USF policy on copyright suggests that a single copy for teaching purposes, including only a small amount of a copyrighted work (e.g. one chapter of a book), is usually acceptable.  Multiple copies provided to students should not exceed one copy per student, be used ‘in the moment’ (e.g. the inspiration and the decision to use the material must be close in time), not substitute for purchase of books by students, include a copyright notice, and not include consumable material like work book or test pages.

What if my class is online?


Link to material:

Linking to an image, video, or public website is not copying.  While you should still cite and give attribution to the owner of the website, it is not usually required to request permission to link to a publicly available website.


Play a video, display a picture, perform a play in an online class:

The “Technology, Education, and Copyright Harmonization Act,” or “TEACH Act,” added to copyright law as Section 110(2) in 2002, outlines how educators may use copyrighted works in their online classes.  It includes a sizeable list of conditions that must all be satisfied in order to adhere to the law, which have been compiled into a checklist by the USF Libraries.


Post copyrighted material for use during the online course:

Faculty must make sure that the use of copyrighted material complies with fair use principles or is used with the permission of the copyright owner, that access to content is restricted to enrolled students and that students are informed that the works are subject to copyright protections.

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