Educational uses of copyright-protected content aren't automatically fair or exempted. The use of copyrighted content in teaching bears thoughtful consideration. In addition to the resources on the Getting Started and Using Copyrighted Works in Scholarship tabs on this guide, this page includes information and resources that address common intersections between copyright and teaching.
KU Libraries’ Shulenburger Office of Scholarly Communication & Copyright is available to assist KU faculty, staff, and students with questions concerning copyright, including fair use. Contact email@example.com for assistance.
The following resources are helpful places to begin considering copyright in the context of teaching. Additional resources may be found in adjacent boxes as well as on the Using Copyrighted Works in Scholarship tab on this guide.
The web as we understand it depends on linking to other sites. Otherwise, every page would be a cul-de-sac, unconnected to other pages, and the Internet would cease to function. Luckily, linking doesn't violate copyright, with a couple of important exceptions (see below for more information). Generally, neither permission nor a fair use analysis are necessary when linking to legally available content. This is massively helpful, both for regular web use as well as in teaching.
A very common example: instructors frequently assign articles from KU Libraries databases, which are licensed for use of KU students, faculty, and staff. Rather than downloading the pdf of an article and uploading that copy to Blackboard, provide the permalink from the item record and direct students to log in to their KU Libraries account and retrieve the article. This is a better practice from a copyright point of view, and helps reveal usage of resources, which informs subscription renewals and cancellations.
When is linking OK?
When is linking not OK?
Information presented in this box is adapted from Linking to Copyrighted Materials by the Digital Media Law Project, hosted by the Berkman-Klein Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University, CC-BY-NC-SA.
The Classroom Use Exemption (17 U.S.C. §110(1)) applies in very limited situations, but where it does apply, the rights are quite clear.
To qualify for this exemption, you must: be in a classroom ("or similar place devoted to instruction"); be there in person, engaged in face-to-face teaching activities; and be at a nonprofit educational institution.
If you meet these conditions, the Classroom Use Exemption gives both instructors and students broad rights to perform or display any works. That means instructors can play legally acquired movies and music for their students, at any length. Instructors can show students images or original works of art. Students can perform arias, read poems, and act out scenes. Students and instructors can do these things without seeking permission, without payment of a license, and without having to deal with the potential complexity of fair use.
The Classroom Use Exemption does not apply outside the nonprofit, in-person, classroom teaching environment! It doesn't apply online - even to wholly course-related activities and course websites. It doesn't apply to interactions that are not in-person - even simultaneous distance learning interactions. It doesn't apply at for-profit educational institutions (KU is a non-profit educational institution).
The Classroom Use Exemption also only authorizes performance or display, not the production or distribution of copies (i.e., handing out readings in class). Note that fair use may apply when the Classroom Use Exemption is not available.