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This guide will inform you on copyright and issues pertaining to the use of copyrighted materials. It will not supply legal advice nor is it intended to replace the advice of the office of General Counsel. If you cannot find the answer to your question

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 1.) 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. 2.)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.

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, in a face to face classroom situation, 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.

Helpful resources:

Additional information for posting copyrighted material for use during an online course

Faculty must make sure that the use of copyrighted material complies with fair use principles, existing licenses, 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.

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.

Videos in Online Classes

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.

Use library licensed content

The USF library provides a robust collection of online videos and databases that can be located via the USF libraries’ catalog.  A list of the databases and collections can be found in our Images, Video and Audio guide:  Streaming Video.

These materials may be linked to your Canvas course directly or by requesting the title for your online course reserves. 

What if I want to stream a video that is not in the library collection?

If the library does not have access to a video that best fits an instructor’s pedagogical needs, the instructor has a number of other options for providing the material to her students.  If the video is found online, the instructor can link to the video; linking is not copying.  Section 110(2) of copyright law, otherwise known as the TEACH Act, outlines other ways that a video may be connected to and used in online courses, if a search for an available online copy to license or purchase is unfruitful (see the T.E.A.C.H. Act Checklist linked below).

For help determining if you can use a video in your online class within the terms of the TEACH Act, please feel free to contact your librarian or obtain legal advice from USF General Counsel.

The T.E.A.C.H. Act

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.

The USF Tampa library has created a checklist to help you determine if your use of media in your distanced courses fits within the conditions of the TEACH Act.  Please feel free to contact your librarian with questions or for help with the checklist, or obtain legal advice from USF General Counsel.

Helpful Resources