Frequently Asked Questions About Fair Use and Classroom Teaching
May I make copies of a favorite article for my students every semester?
No, repeated use would not pass the spontaneity test. You should request permission to duplicate the material from the Copyright Clearance Center.
May I copy several chapters of a book for my students?
No, copying several chapters does not meet the brevity test; also, it could affect the author’s profit from his work.
May I copy sheet music to use in the classroom?
For use in the classroom, you can make copies of an excerpt of not more than 10% of the whole work.
I use the same articles and book chapters each semester. May I make up a packet and then photocopy the packet for each student?
No, this accumulation constitutes a course-pack, and heavy fines have been levied for duplicating these without permission. If you want to use articles or other parts of published works each semester, you need to get permission from the publisher.
May I make a copy of an article, poem, or chapter for each member of my class?
It is permissible to make multiple copies as long as the amount of material passes the brevity test (see above) and is used only for one semester. If you plan to use the same material each semester, permission needs to be obtained from the publisher.
May I use photocopied music for performance?
No, performance of photocopied music is a copyright violation. However, you may make a copy, on an emergency basis, to replace a purchased copy which has been lost or destroyed.
May I play sound recordings or music in class?
Yes, as long as the original recordings or sound files are obtained legally and the performance of the material is done within a classroom (or secure course).
May I show a DVD or stream a film to my class?
May I play a sound or music file or CD?
Yes. You can show play an audio-recording in a classroom setting as part of Fair Use.
May I burn a copy of an album or audiobook to distribute in class?
No, materials that are under copyright cannot be duplicated and distributed.
May I record a segment from television to show in my class?
Yes, you can share a recorded television segment and use it in your class, but may only retain it for 45 days. (It cannot be shared electronically or posted online).
Frequently Asked Questions About Fair Use and Online Teaching
May I upload or scan copyrighted materials so that I can post them on the Web or to my personal website?
No, it would not be permissible to put these same materials on a website, as access to them would be open (not protected by password) and there would be no time limitations.
May I link to articles, eBook chapters, or films from the Library's databases in my Canvas course?
Yes. This use is permitted by the database vendors, who have already paid the copyright fee. Use a database-generated persistent link. (Do not save PDFs and upload those to your course as this constitutes reproducing the material, rather than linking to it.)
May I create an online video or screencast containing copyrighted text, video, audio, and photographs that are relevant to the class without obtaining permission to use the copyrighted materials?
Yes. Most experts believe that showing the video or screencast to students enrolled in the course is a fair use, but it cannot be posted to the open Web (e.g. put on YouTube).
May I create a multi-media project to show it in class without obtaining permission?
Photographs, music, or video may be used in a classroom, as long as access to the presentation will be limited to class participants. The copyright fair use provision explicitly provides for classroom use of copyrighted material. Instructors and students may perform and display their own educational projects or presentations for instruction.
May I upload sound recordings to my Canvas course site?
Yes, as long as the original recordings or sound files are obtained legally and it is only shared within a secure Canvas course (not posted on the Web).
May I make a copy of a song, album, or film for later use or to distribute?
No, creating multiple copies is not permissible.
I have a Netflix (or other streaming video) account. May I give students my password so they can watch films for class?
May I stream a film to my class through a web conferencing tool like Zoom?
Yes. If you own a copy of a film or have access to a film through a library or streaming service, you can stream the film to your students through a web conferencing platform, as long as you:
- show only the portion of the film necessary for the class lesson
- allow only students in your class to view the material
- don’t record the film
- to support Fair Use, plan to stop the film a few times and have a quick class discussion or mini-lecture
- don’t share content over a WIFI connection – a wired connection is more stable
- when you begin the film, close down as many applications on your own computer as possible (have students do the same)
- commercial streaming services like Netflix, Amazon Video, or Hulu may disallow or block content sharing