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Copyright Guide for DVC Faculty

This research guide is intended to let faculty know the basics about copyright and fair use, and how it applies to their course materials.

Copyright Guidelines for Online Courses

The TEACH Act (17 US Code sec. 110(2)) extends to the online classroom some of the educational exemptions to copyright law that exist in the face-to-face classroom. Like the Classroom Exception that exists for face-to-face teaching, the TEACH ACT permits some use of copyrighted materials without permission in an online classroom- generally an online learning platform that is limited to those enrolled in your class with password protection. Under the Act's provisions, you can perform or display works in a comparable amount to what you would make available in the classroom. However, you may only use "limited portions" of dramatic audiovisual works, such as movies or television shows in your online classroom.


For materials not covered by the TEACH Act, such as printed/textual materials, Fair Use analysis still applies.
These sites can provide guidance.
TEACH Act Compliance Checklist                      
TEACH Act FAQs                                  
Uses in the Online Classroom

Best Practices for Online Teaching

Rules of Thumb

  1. Link to full-text articles or eBooks in your library's databases instead of downloading them to your site. Linking to materials is ordinarily not a violation of copyright.
  2. Link to a resource on the open Web rather than posting their content to your site.
  3. Audio and video files should be streaming files rather than downloadable ones. Streaming limits students' ability to download, copy, or redistribute the material. Whenever possible, link to streaming media licensed by the library.
  4. Images should be captioned and watermarked to prevent copying. Use images from open access sources while still giving credit to the creator.
  5. For each source of information, provide an acknowledgement of the source, copyright, and publisher.
  6. Do not use/post any more of the copyrighted material than the amount needed to serve your purpose.
  7. Notify students that materials are being made available for teaching, study, and research only.
  8. Use materials in the public domain freely.
  9. Use materials freely if you own the copyright. (exams, syllabi, notes).
  10. When in doubt, seek permission!

Credit: Adapted from Washburn University. "Copyright Guidelines for Online Courses."