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Libraries & Spaces


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Using Copyrighted Works in Teaching

Copyright law recognizes the need for professors and students to be able to use copyrighted works in the course of teaching activities. For expanded information on permissible copying, single copies for research and teaching use, multiple copies for classroom use, multimedia use, and more:

Fair Use

Under the fair use doctrine, you may use limited portions of copyrighted material in your work without the permission of the copyright owner. Before using a work under the fair use doctrine, however, you will need to evaluate whether your use qualifies as fair, which must be done on a case-by-case basis taking into consideration the following four factors:

  1. The purpose and character of your use
  2. The nature of the copyrighted work
  3. The amount and substantiality of the portion taken
  4. The effect of the use upon the potential market

In short, the fair use determination will depend on how much of the copyrighted work you are using and how you are using it. The sites listed below explain these four factors in depth and will help you evaluate whether your use qualifies as fair use.

Tests for Fair Use

There are limits to using copyrighted materials, even if you are a student or a faculty member. To be safe, try out some of these resources to evaluate that you are using copyrighted materials "fairly":

Performances and displays in an online/ distance education setting: the T.E.A.C.H. Act

The Technology, Education, and Copyright Harmonization (TEACH) Act pertains to the use of copyrighted digital materials (e.g. video) in distance education settings.

The TEACH act applies only if a set of strict conditions is fulfilled. For further information:

Important, please note: If a proposed use does not qualify for consideration under the TEACH Act, if may still be an instance of Fair Use (about which, see above).

Using Library Resources in Classes