Copyright and Educational Fair Use- Part 5 Conclusion

In your teaching, remember to use the fair use criterion when deciding where to use an article, video, music, image, or other intellectual property created by others. Below are some simple ways to keep it legal.

  • Giving a link to the work is better than making a copy of the work
  • Check with your local library to see if they have paid for a subscription that allows you and your students to view it online.
  • Check out the creator’s homepage and see if they will allow you to use the work for free. Most sites allow students to print a copy for personal use.

If linking will not work, use the fair use exception with the following examples.

  • Copying reasonable portions of longer works for your class
  • Copying a timely article when it is unreasonable to expect a sufficiently rapid reply to a request for permission
  • Copying a graphic or an image from a work to display in your lectures

In all of the above examples, make sure to cite the work as well to make sure the owner is credited for the content. Remember that the most important guideline is to not financially hurt the copyright owner. For example, copying a pattern or an entire book financially hurts the copyright owner since the creator is not profiting from the selling of the content. Remember the Golden Rule!

Finally, use the four factors of fair use to weigh your evaluation and decision.

1-Purpose and character: Using the work for teaching at a nonprofit educational institution is favorable, especially when the use is restricted to your students.

2-Nature of Copyrighted Work: Is the work fact based or out of print?

3-Amount Used: Use the smallest amount of a whole to work toward fairness. Sometimes the full work is fair if it is needed for your instructional purpose.

4-Market Effect: Use is more likely to be fair if it does not harm the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.

Copyright law makes special provision for displaying images, playing motion pictures or sound recordings, or performing works in classes in both face-to-face teaching and distance education.

For face-to-face teaching, you can display or perform a work in your class without obtaining permission when your use is:

  • for instructional purposes
  • in face-to-face teaching
  • at a non-profit educational institution.

If you do not meet all three criteria, you need to go back to the fair use factors and evaluate your use.

Distance Education is different, and although the TEACH Act might apply, the stipulations are so rigorous, most educators go back and rely on the fair use exception.

The information in this blog was adapted from the following website:

Dr. Kelly Campbell, Associate Dean of Information Services at Columbia Theological Seminary

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