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An easy to understand guide on Copyright.

Blackboard Info.

Copyright law makes special exceptions for educational use, in addition to Fair Use, to provide educators with the materials they need to teach their students in physcial classrooms.  When these allowances were made they were specifically related to in classroom use.  With the emergence of distance learning and more specifically online classes the TEACH (Technology, Education, and Copyright Harmionization) was created to accomodate instructors of the classes to provide materials to their students through course management systems such as Blackboard or Moodle.  Below is the act as stated in the law:


The TEACH Act amended the Copyright Act teaching exemption found at 17 U.S.C. § 110(2) to permit certain performances or displays of copyrighted works in a distance learning environment. In order for the use of copyrighted materials in distance education to qualify for the exemptions under the TEACH Act, the following criteria must be met:

  • The teaching must occur at an accredited, nonprofit educational institution.
  • Only lawfully acquired copies may be used.
  • Use is limited to performances and displays. The TEACH Act does not apply to materials that are for students' independent use and retention, such as textbooks or readings.
  • Use of materials must be within the context of "mediated instructional activities" analogous to the activities of a face-to-face class session.
  • The materials to be used should not include those primarily marketed for the purposes of distance education (i.e. an electronic textbook or a multimedia tutorial).
  • Only those students enrolled in the class should have access to the material.
  • Reasonable efforts must be made to prevent students from distributing the material after viewing it.
  • If a digital version of the work is already available, then an analog copy cannot be converted for educational use.
  • Students must be informed that the materials they access are protected by copyright.
  • The educational institution must have a policy on the use of copyrighted materials and provide informative resources for faculty advising them on their rights.

What exactly can I put in my course?

  • Portions of books, journal articles, and other print resources that fall within Fair Use.
  • Materials created by the instructor for the course.
  • Copyrighted materials for which the instructor has obtained permission and supplied written documentation of that permission.
  • Works or sections of works in the public domain.  

What should I avoid putting in my course?

  • Personally reproduced versions of copyrighted films, television programs, documentaries, sound recordings, etc.
  • Excessive portions of copyrighted works that exceed fair use.
  • Course packs.
  • Works prohibited by licensing restrictions.

Tips & Tricks to Remember

  • Anything posted in your course should be evaluated with the four fair use factors.  Check out FAIR USE above.
  • Remember to link not copy if possible.  In many of the library databases, materials include a persistent link that you can use in your course.
  • FIU Libraries can assist you by placing things on Course Reserves.   In order to keep journal articles and book chapters on reserve for multiple semesters, we need to obtain copyright permission from the copyright holder.

(received information from Florida State University Copyright Resources Libguide)


Sample Copyright Notice:

The materials on this course website 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.


Ready to use the TEACH Act?  Use the following checklist to be sure you are in compliance. Borrowed from the University of Texas Copyright Crash Course and Colorado State University.


University Requirements:

  • Accredited nonprofit educational institution.
  • Institutional copyright use policy.
  • Provides accurate information to faculty, students and staff about copyright

Faculty Requirements:

  • Work is lawfully made and acquired 
  • Materials are specific for students in my class. Only those students will have access to the materials.
  • Materials will be provided at my direction during the relevant lesson
  • Work is directly related and of material assistance to my teaching
  • My class is part of the regular offerings of my institution
  • I will include a notice that the materials are protected by copyright
  • I will use technology that reasonably limits the students' ability to retain or further distribute the materials
  • I will make the materials available to the students only for a period of time that is relevant to the context of a class session
  • I will store the materials on a secure server and transmit them only as permitted by this law
  • I will not make any copies other than the one I need to make the transmission
  • The materials are of the proper type and amount the law authorizes:
    • Entire performances of nondramatic literary and musical works
    • Reasonable and limited parts of a dramatic literary, musical, or audiovisual works
    • Displays of other works, such as images, in amounts similar to typical displays in face-to-face teaching
  • The materials are not among those the law specifically excludes from its coverage:
    • Materials specifically marketed for classroom use for digital distance education
    • Copies I know or should know are illegal
    • Textbooks, coursepacks, electronic reserves and similar materials typically purchased individually by the students for independent review outside the classroom or class session
  • If I am using an analog original, I checked before digitizing it to be sure:
    • I copied only the amount that I am authorized to transmit
    • There is no digital copy of the work available except with technological protections that prevent my using it for the class in the way the statute authorizes

Sample Copyright Notice:

The materials on this course website 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.

The library offers many streaming video options that can be edited into clips and emedded into online classes. (see left hand bar for some streaming video collections).  In addition, the library has a large collection of videos available for classroom use. Below is a guideline created by Duke University Libraries to help you determine if you can use a video for an online class.




Sample Copyright Notice:

The materials on this course website 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.