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Copyright for Faculty: Common Scenarios

A guide to copyright in the classroom. Includes an overview of Copyright Law, common scenarios, Fair Use Guidelines, The TEACH Act, and useful tools for guiding decision-making.

Can I Share Course Materials with Students?

Can I Share Course Materials With Students?

Most copyright issues that come up in this area have to do with making physical copies. Whenever possible, try to avoid doing this. Instead, try one of these options below:

 Posting an Article Link

Yes. Posting links for readings of articles on your Moodle page is an easy way to point your students towards a resource and avoid any copyright confusion. We pay for and have license to access thousands of full text online journals. You can usually find just what you need in USearch, grab the permalink, and paste it into Moodle. 

How To Grab a Permalink from USearch

Contact us if you’d like help creating links to subscription databases/articles

 Placing Readings on Physical Reserve

Yes. Another option would be to place the book or journal that a reading is from on physical course reserve at the library. This is the perfect option if an article is not available online to be linked to or several chapters of a book are required reading. Add the citation to your required reading list and request that we place it on reserve at the library. Students can stop by, read it, or make a scan of the selection and read it at a later date.

More on Physical Course Reserves

 Uploading or Distributing a Single Copy You've Made of a Resource

Sometimes. Creating and distributing a copy of an article or a book chapter can be a bit more of a grey area. Generally, these rights belong exclusively to the copyright holder. However, we can look to the Fair Use Guidelines to see if the amount used, the intentions, and setting would align with best practices. Uploading a small portion of a work, for educational purposes, where the access is restricted to only currently enrolled students usually falls within the Fair Use Guidelines. Displaying an article for in-class use is also generally ok. If you want to require students to read a larger portion of text or view an entire movie outside of class, you'll want to arrange to place the original copy on physical reserve at the library. 

More on Fair Use Guidelines

More on Physical Course Reserves

 Displaying or Performing a Work in the Classroom

Yes. Instructors or students in a face-to-face nonprofit educational setting are not infringing on copyright when they perform or display a work during the course of teaching activities. Go ahead and display some maps, share a reading of a poem, watch a video (legal copies only), or play a song. 

 Uploading Images & Video to Moodle

Sometimes. Almost any work you can legally display in a physical classroom setting can also be displayed in a virtual setting, provided the virtual setting is similar to a live classroom in terms of access and duration of availability. In other words, you can usually post an image on Moodle to your course page provided it is course-related, you obtained the copy legally, the course page is limited to currently enrolled students, and access will be removed when the course is completed. Streaming videos or linking to them where they occur in the library's databases is a great way to go. 

More on the TEACH Act

 Embedding a YouTube Video on Your Moodle Site

Sometimes. The TEACH Act advises that you take steps to make it hard for someone to download the copyrighted content for their own further use. For this reason, it's best to stream videos, or link to them instead of embedding them in your course page. YouTube videos often have Creative Commons licenses attached to them which can mean that the creator is just fine with you reusing and distributing their content provided you show proper attribution. 

YouTube and Creative Commons Licenses

More on Creative Commons Licenses

Legal Disclaimer

This guide does not supply legal advice nor is it intended to replace the advice of legal counsel.

Creative Commons License