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Distance Learning Resources for Faculty: Copyright Considerations


For a more in depth explanation see the library's guide on Copyright

The Basics:

1. Copyright is automatic once a work has been "fixed in a tangible medium." It is not necessary to register for copyright nor is it a requirement that the © symbol be affixed. Copyright is a bundle of rights exclusive to the copyright holder including, the right to reproduce, create derivative works, distribute, and perform.


2. It is the exclusive right of the copyright holder to apply creative commons licensing to limit or lift copyright restrictions during the period under which copyright protection exists.That is unless it falls under or enters the public domain.


3. Copyright also applies to international works (see, the Berne Convention).


4. Students are the copyright holder on their own works and instructors must acquire permission from the student to make use of it. Educational institutions should have an institutional policy regarding student works and rights.


5. Fair Use: Use in a non-profit, educational setting is only one of the factors that must be considered. There are four factors and each must be evaluated and weighed holistically, on a case-by-case basis.


6. Limiting to a password protected site (e.g., Blackboard) and implementing measures to restrict further dissemination is essential, but is but part of the criteria that must be met.


7. Linking to library subscribed or open access (freely available on the web) materials, which are lawfully made, is ideal.


8. Provide the full citation and a copyright notice to students reminding them that copyrighted works are for enrolled students and should not be copied or disseminated to others.


9. There is a lot of uncertainty and nuance to copyright, and frankly the law does not reflect the digital world we live and teach in, but bottom line:

  • Link, embed, or stream and avoid making copies whenever possible.
  • Use only lawfully obtained material (i.e., don't show a pirated video or link to a YouTube video that is posted by an entity other than the copyright holder).
  • Evaluate any copyrighted materials according to fair use standards and adhere to those guidelines.
  • Respect intellectual property rights and mirror best practices to your students.
  • Seek permission or licensing if you determine that your use exceeds the allowances of fair use.