Copyright – Teaching

Using copyrighted works in teaching and learning

This guide is to help you determine how to use copyrighted material for instructional purposes and in a way that is shared only with students in your course. Please consult our other guide if you are using material for non-instructional purposes, especially if you are sharing/distributing it outside of Pacific.

Step One: Determine if the material is already free to use.

Material may not require permission for you to use if it meets one or more of the following:

  • It is in the public domain.
  • It has been released under a Creative Commons license that allows for the type of use you are contemplating.
  • You have written permission from the copyright owner to use the material in the way you are contemplating.
  • A license has been purchased or a contract has been made with the copyright owner allowing for the use you are contemplating.
  • You (or Pacific University) own the copyright to this material.

If none of the above apply, proceed to step two.

Step Two: Determine if your use is allowed under teaching/classroom exemptions.

Displays and performances in physical classrooms (§ 110(1))

This exemption means that faculty may, for the purpose of instruction, do the following:

  • Show a film
  • Perform or listen to a piece of music
  • Perform, or show, a play
  • Show slides or other images

The only requirement is that the performance or display of the work must be part of the instructional activities (e.g. not for entertainment), and the faculty member must use a legally obtained copy of the work.

Displays and performances in online courses (§ 110(2) and § 112)

TEACH Act exemptions help address the need for faculty to display or show images, music, and dramatic and nondramatic literary works in an online course environment. There are strict requirements that must be met in order to qualify for a TEACH exemption. For a description of these requirements, please visit the TEACH Act page.

If neither of the above apply, proceed to step three.

Step Three: Determine if your use falls within conservative fair use “safe harbor” guidelines.

Every fair use determination is different because the circumstances of each use are unique—and no one but a court can tell you with absolute certainty whether your use is fair or not.

However, over the years, Congress, publishers, academic institutions, and others have developed accepted, narrowly defined parameters for what is considered fair use of copyrighted materials. If your proposed use falls within these parameters, it is generally safe to proceed with the use without getting permission. If your proposed use falls outside these parameters, it may still be fair—but you will need to make that determination (see Step 4 below for guidance on making a fair use determination).

I want to distribute or incorporate the following elements into my Moodle site or other secure course website for a particular course.

I want to show or display a video, audio, image, or other multimedia work (as a complete work, or incorporated into a slideshow, multimedia presentation, or other new work) to students in a face-to-face classroom setting.

Note: If you will be providing students with copies of your presentation/slides (either print or digitally), please see below for guidelines regarding distribution of multiple copies of a work.

I want to distribute copies (either print or digital) of a work to students in my class.

Please note that even “safest use” is not guaranteed to be legally safe in every case; it is simply a commonly accepted conservative estimate as to what constitutes fair use in certain circumstances. Contact copyright@pacificu.edu if you have questions about these guidelines.

If your proposed use does not fall within these “safe harbor” guidelines, proceed to step four.

Step Four: Conduct a fair use analysis

Determine whether your proposed use should be considered fair use by comparing all of the factors that favor a fair use defense and all of the factors that disfavor a fair use defense. Use a fair use checklist to help you to weigh these factors. If you have questions, please contact copyright@pacificu.edu.

To aid in your decision-making, the Center for Media & Social Impact has collected “codes of best practice” developed by disciplinary communities to guide the use of copyright materials in certain contexts: Codes of Best Practices in Fair Use

If you determine that your use would not be considered fair use, please proceed with obtaining permission (or finding alternate materials to use).

Step Five: Document

Document the result of your fair use analysis.

Indicate on the work you are creating or distributing that you have relied on fair use, and that further reuse by other people of that same work may require permission of the copyright holder.

Use full citations for all copyrighted materials you are sharing or incorporating into your own work. Indicate the copyright ownership and licensing terms (as applicable) as part of each citation.

In all cases where you are relying on fair use, the following guidelines must be followed:

  • Use should be clearly related to a class learning objective and only as much of a work should be used as is needed to meet that objective.
  • Use must include a copyright notice (stating copyright ownership). Images should ideally have the copyright notice visible on/near the image itself (although it may also be placed in a credits section of a presentation).
  • The copy of a work that is used must be legally acquired.
  • Copyrighted material posted online must be (a) only accessible to students enrolled in the course for which it was posted and (b) be removed or made inaccessible as soon as the course ends.
  • Fair use does not apply to consumable content, such as workbooks, surveys, standardized tests, et al.
  • Any material given to students that contains material copied under fair use should contain a disclaimer similar to this:
    The following contains copyrighted material that is being used under fair use (§ 107, Title 17, U.S.C.). Any further copying or use may require permission from the rightsholder(s).