Skip to Main Content

Copyright: Information for faculty

An important reminder

You are responsible for making sure that all the materials you use comply with copyright law.

Assume that these materials are protected by copyright unless you can determine with confidence that they are not. 

Physical course reserves and copyright

  • Any physical item held by the library (e.g. books, video recordings, sound recordings, or print journals) may be placed on reserve.
  • Any lawfully purchased personal copy of a book or video/sound recording may be placed on reserve.
  • When a reserve request does not meet the fair use guidelines, the library will seek permission from the copyright holder and pay any required copyright fees associated with your items.
  • If a copyright holder does not grant permission, the library will help you select alternative resources, or you can choose to have your students purchase individual copies of the item.

Digital material and copyright

You MAY need to secure copyright permissions prior to posting content to MyClasses.  If you are in doubt, please submit a Course Reserves request in the library's Course Reserves system. The library staff will conduct a copyright review on your behalf and, if necessary, we will seek permission from the copyright holder and pay any required copyright fees associated with your items, within reason.  

Reposting of the same material to MyClassess/Canvas for use in a subsequent semester requires a new permission. Please submit a new request each semester before re-posting copyright-protected course content to MyClasses. 

Fair use guidelines for sharing digital articles or excerpts of books:

  • book selections not exceeding 15% of the total pages in the source
  • a single article from a journal, magazine, or newspaper issue
  • any teaching materials written by you 
  • student papers, as long as you have each student's written permission to share his/her paper with other students

Linking to library electronic resources and streaming media:

Use the persistent link provided for each item in a database to direct your students to electronic resources or streaming media. Add the following SU's proxy prefix to the front of the persistent link for off-campus access to these items:

The classroom use exemption

According to the U.S. Copyright Law (Title 17, Chapter 1, § 110), known as the classroom exemption, the following uses are NOT infringements of copyright: 

"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." 

‚ÄčThe classroom use exemption is limited to face-to-face instruction and does NOT apply to online instruction or to instruction provided through a course delivery system, such as Canvas.  You may choose to rely on fair use or TEACH Act for these uses.

The TEACH Act in a nutshell

  • The Technology, Education and Copyright Harmonization Act  (2002), known as the TEACH Act, authorizes certain kinds of online performances and displays for distance education.
  • The TEACH Act applies only to non-profit, accredited educational institutions.
  • The TEACH Act covers the use of materials that would ordinarily be performed or displayed in a face-to-face classroom setting. 
  • The performance or display of works must be directly related and integral to the content of a class.
  • Works that are used for performance or display must be lawfully made or acquired.
  • The performance or display of works must be limited to students officially enrolled in the course.
  • The TEACH Act does not apply to e-reserves. It doesn't mean that you can't use e-reserves but it means that you need to rely on fair use for e-reserves, not the TEACH Act. 
  • The TEACH Act does not cover the use of textual materials such as articles. However, it permits displaying of a reasonable portion of an article, such as a graph, and linking to the full-text  of an article.
  • The TEACH Act prohibits the use of educational materials that students are commonly expected to purchase such as textbooks, course packs, and workbooks.
  • Instructors must use reasonable control to prevent copying or retention of the work such as using streaming for video, disabling the right click copy function, and using thumbnails and watermarks for images.
  • All copyrighted materials must carry a copyright notice to students.
  • The use of the TEACH Act is optional.  You may choose to rely on other alternatives such as fair use or Creative Commons and open access resources.

Open Educational Resources (OERs)

Open Educational Resources (OERs) are educational materials that are freely available for use, remixing and redistribution. OER's authors typically include a terms of use statement or Creative Commons licensing to guide usage of their content.

Copyright friendly uses

The following uses are not infringements on copyright:

  • Linking to items made legally available on the web 
  • Using:
    • self-authored published and unpublished works for which you own the copyright
    •  works in the Public Domain
    • U.S. Federal government publications
    • open access works
    • Creative Commons works licensed with distribution rights
    • content that falls under the fair use provision of the U.S. Copyright Act
    • freeware (software, application or program that may be downloaded, used and shared without restriction)

For more information, see the Copyright friendly resources tab.