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Copyright and Fair Use Guidelines

A brief overview of Copyright, Fair Use, the Digital Millennium Copyright Act and the TEACH Act.

Canvas FAQs

A Learning Management System (LMS) has the advantage of being a self-contained site, so it is more readily accessible for students and faculty.

It is always best to link to a copyrighted item rather than to copy it, but not all support materials can be linked.  If a reading is not available through a licensed resource provided by the library, first - reach out to the library director to determine if the library can acquire the item needed. If the library is unable to assist, faculty must run an analysis to determine the likelihood of usage falling within Fair Use, the DMCA or Teach Act constraints.

What is considered Fair Use when posting course materials? - A summary:

  • a single chapter from a book
  • a single article from a periodical or newspaper
  • a single short story or short essay (less than 2,500 words)
  • one short poem (less than 250 words)
  • one chart, graph, diagram, drawing, cartoon or picture per book, periodical, or newspaper issue
  • all lecture notes, answer keys, tests, etc. that are owned by faculty
  • a short snippet of music, song, or film. (The Music Library Association has a helpful statement on the "Digital Transmission of Audio Reserves".)

Links & Uploads into Canvas

How do I provide links to databases?

Use the persistent link provided for each item in a database to direct students to electronic articles, images, or streaming media. In order to provide off-campus access, RU's proxy URL must be added to the front of the persistent link for some databases. For information on how to link to an article see the Faculty: How to Create Links to Library Resources Guide.

Can I load readings into Canvas?

Yes, but uploading copyrighted readings into Canvas does not change the necessity of running a Fair Use analysis, employing the TEACH Act or of seeking permissions when necessary. 

What is required when posting class readings?

  • Only copy the portion of the work that is necessary and no more for the intended use.
  • Only students enrolled in a course should have access to the Canvas site. 
  • Carry a complete citation and a copyright notice ("This material may be protected by copyright law (Title 17 U.S. Code)"

Can I reuse my readings semester after semester without permission?

There is no definitive answer. Repeated use of material might violate the spirit of fair use if the amount and market effect are sizeable.  When posting material in Canvas faculty must weigh all the fair use factors. A good, risk-free way to proceed is to use University licensed resources which contain copyright clearances.

Is scanning or digitizing my readings considered making a copy?

Yes. Library staff can scan documents. If the request for a scanned item exceeds Fair Use, Library staff can secure permission for the faculty member.

Media in Canvas

What about using images, music, audio or video recordings in Canvas?

The use of these media in Canvas involve the issues of performance and display in digital transmissions.

Faculty may refer to either the  TEACH Act page  or the Fair Use page for guidance. Other suggested methods for protecting copyrighted images or photos include:

  • Include citation and link to the original resource
  • the use of low resolution images and thumbnails
  • digital watermarks
  • disabling the right click copy function
  • using the image as a background in a table or
  • using digital rights management
  • For details see "Tips and Techniques to Protect Images on the Internet."

When considering the use of media in online teaching, technological protection measures or digital rights management may come into play. The Digital Millennium Copyright Act carries strict prohibitions against overriding TPMs and DRM. See the DMCA page for a brief explanation.

Copyright Notice and Canvas

Students should be informed of copyright laws by including a copyright notice in Canvas and verbally reinforcing the notice in blended courses. Feel free to "copy and paste" the copyright notice below into your course.

  • COPYRIGHT NOTICE: The Copyright Act (17 U.S.C. § 10) governs the rights attributed to owners of copyrighted work.  Under certain circumstances, educational institutions may provide copies of copyrighted works to students.  The copies may not be copied nor used for any other purpose besides private study, scholarship, or research.  Users should not provide electronic copies of any materials provided on this course’s Canvas site to unauthorized users.  The materials on this Canvas course site are only for the use of students enrolled in this course for purposes associated with this course and may not be retained or further disseminated. If a user fails to comply with Fair Use restrictions, he/she may be held liable for copyright infringement.

 

Media in the Classroom

Section 110(1) of the Copyright Act addresses performance and display of copyrighted materials in the face-to-face classroom:

"Notwithstanding the provisions of section 106 [of the copyright act], the following are not infringements:
(1) performance or display of a work by instructors or pupils in the course of face-to-face teaching activities of a nonprofit educational institution, in a classroom or similar place devoted to instruction, unless, in the case of a motion picture or other audiovisual work, the performance, or the display of individual images, is given by means of a copy that was not lawfully made under this title, and that the person responsible for the performance knew or had reason to believe was not lawfully made;..."

Can faculty show copyrighted performances to a class?

Yes, but there are some boundaries. The showing must be:

  • a "regular part of systematic instructional activities"
  • in a nonprofit educational institution
  • in a classroom or "similar place devoted to instruction"
  • the copy used must be lawfully made
  • Other notes: instructional activity must be taking place. The teaching activity should not be open to the public. The use of the video should be limlited to the campus grounds.

Do I need public  performance rights to show a video in a class?

No, as long as the purpose of the viewing is educational

When do I need public performance rights?

This is necessary when a performance is shown and is not related to a teaching activity. Campus clubs and social events wishing to show performances must have permission or public performance rights. Any event that is open to the general public is a public performance and needs public performance rights.

Does the Library's collection of DVDs or streaming performances automatically come with public performance rights?

Not automatically for every video, although some video suppliers include public performance rights with the basic purchase. 

When I order a DVD for the libraries' collections, can I request public performance rights?

Greenlease Library purchases DVDs to support classroom teaching and private study, and by default, do not acquire performance licenses due to significant costs. However, please reach out the library and we can explore options for items you would like to show in class.

How can I tell if the video I am borrowing from the library has public performance rights?

Please check with library staff and we will determine case by case.

What about media that can be purchased with streaming capability?

Some companies offer institutional-level streaming options. Links to these databases can be added to your course management site. Ask your librarian to look into this if you are interested. Greenlease Librarians will assist with researching what streaming options are available and whether broadcasting fees are required.

Can I show a YouTube video to my classes?

Yes, using YouTube to demonstrate pedagogical points is fine, however, do not use YouTube videos containing infringed content. The best way to handle a YouTube video is to link or embed the video code into Canvas.

What about using streaming Netflix or Amazon?

Instructors may wish to have students watch content outside of class. While setting this up through Canvas may seem like the solution, showing entire works through Zoom violates the company's Terms of Use. Consider having your students get individual accounts through services to view the content outside of class time.

May I make a compilation of video clips to show in class?

Most DVDs today are protected by content scrambling systems (CSS), technological protection measures (TPMs) or digital rights management (DRM), and it is a violation of the law to circumvent these protections to copy material. Instructors may always advance to the portion they wish to comment on, however, the 2012 DMCA exemptions permit faculty and students requiring close analysis of film and media excerpts to circumvent protection measures to make short portions available for viewing. The exemption applies only to motion pictures on DVD or from online distribution services and the circumvention is allowed only when necessary because reasonably available alternatives, such as non-circumventing methods or using screen capture software are not able to produce the level of high-quality content required to achieve the desired criticism or comment.” If very high quality copy is not required for the criticism or comment, the law permits the use of screen capture software. There is no definition of "short portions." Consult the DMCA tabon this guide for more information. Also see the U.S. Copyright Office website for the2012 Rulemaking on Exemptions from Prohibition of Technological Measures that Control Access to Copyrighted Works."

Media in Online Instruction, including Zoom

Section 110(2) (The TEACH Act) deals with performance and display in the digital learning environment.

Zoom usage follows the Zoom Terms of Use, which prohibits transmitting entire moving-picture works or performances through Zoom without acquiring broadcasting licensure for the work prior to playing through Zoom. An instructor may play reasonable and limited portions of a work through Zoom. To determine what is a reasonable portion, you will need to refer back to the rules for fair use. See the TEACH Act tab for more information.

What about films, documentaries, or performances in online courses?

If the material is being used for online instruction the rules are a bit more complex than an in-person setting. You may transmit video or audio of all of a non-dramatic literary work, such as a poetry or short story reading. You may also transmit a complete recording or video of a non-dramatic musical work. For all dramatic literary and musical performances you are limited to transmitting reasonable and limited portions. To determine what is a reasonable portion, you will need to refer back to the rules for fair use. See the TEACH Act tab for more information.

What about media that can be purchased with streaming capability?

Some companies offer institutional-level streaming options. Links to these databases can be added to your course management site. Ask your librarian to look into this if you are interested. Greenlease Librarians will assist with researching what streaming options are available and whether broadcasting fees are required.

Can I show a YouTube video to my classes?

Yes, using YouTube to demonstrate pedagogical points is fine, however, do not use YouTube videos containing infringed content. The best way to handle a YouTube video is to link or embed the video code into Canvas.

What about using streaming Netflix or Amazon?

Instructors may wish to have students watch content outside of class. While setting this up through Canvas may seem like the solution, showing entire works through Zoom violates the company's Terms of Use. Consider having your students get individual accounts through services to view the content outside of class time.

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