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Copyright, Fair Use & Creative Commons Licensing

A guide to inform faculty and students about copyright.

Printed Materials

Journal Article for Classroom Use

An instructor copies one article from a periodical for distribution to a class.

** This is Fair Use! Distribution of multiple copies for classroom use is fair use. However, the repeated use of a copyrighted work, from term-to-term, requires more scrutiny in a fair use evaluation. Repeated use, as well as a large class size, may weigh against fair use. Always include any copyright notice found on the original and appropriate citations and attributions to the source.

Posting Copyrighted Article to Web Page

A professor has posted his class notes on a web page available to the public. He wants to scan an article from a copyrighted journal and add it to his web page.

** No! This is not Fair Use! If access is open to the public, then this use is probably not a fair use. No exclusively educational purpose can be guranteed by putting this article on the web, and such conduct would arguably violate the copyright holder's right of public distribution. If access to the web page is restricted, then it is more likely to be fair use.

Public Domain Materials

A professor copies a play written by Shakespeare from a copyrightetd anthology.

** Yes, this is Fair Use! The play is in the public domain and therefore not subject to copyright protection.

Video Recordings

Showing a Video for Classroom Instruction

A professor wishes to show a copyright motion picture to their class for instructional purposes.

** This is Fair Use! Since it is for a classroom instruction and no admission fee is charged.

Multimedia Projects

Use of Copyrighted Music

A professor or a student creates a presentation and incorporates copyrighted music into the background. Assume that permission was not obtained to use the music in the presentation. Can the music be included?

** YES! This is Fair Use if instruction is occuring.