Comply with Copyright and Fair Use guidelines in Course Material

A red slash through a gray capital C with the caption "No Copyright!" below.

This page provides only rules of thumb for adhering to Copyright law and Fair Use standards. The information provided here is neither legal advice nor a complete guide. For more detailed information, see the U.S. Copyright Office’s online publication of Title 17 , fair use, and the Teaching, Education, and Copyright Harmonization (TEACH) Act, which defines educational exemptions from Copyright law [PDF Files].

Use Moodle or Confluence

Copyrighted material that is intended to be uploaded online must meet the criteria for fair use. Posting on websites that are password protected and only accessible by students enrolled in the class improves the argument that a particular excerpt or clip is fair use. Moodle and Confluence provide such an environment for Wooster faculty. Please consider other fair use factors, including the amount you are using from an entire work and the nature of the original work.

Don’t allow public access

Make sure copyrighted materials on Moodle or course site are not available for guest (public) access. By default, Moodle sites do not allow guest access.

Link to existing materials where possible

For example, instead of quoting extensively from an article posted on Wooster’s website about Wooster’s Promise campaign (citing the author, date, publisher and title), you can link to the article.

Don’t re-digitize material

Before digitizing material, first check if it is already available electronically at Wooster. For example, if you want to scan a chapter of a book, first see the Libraries’ e-reserve guide and contact your library liason to check if the book is already available in digital form.

Reproduce only the minimum amount of materials

Once you decide which sections of works you will need for class purposes, distribute only those sections — not the complete works. For example, if an assignment involves only a single scene in a movie, provide access only to that clip — not the entire movie.

Present materials in the format that is least easily copied

For example, if you want to make a song available online, post it as a streaming media file, instead of making it available as a downloadable file.

Check the copyright status of the work

If you are using materials in a manner that would require permission from a copyright holder, you can check the copyright status of a work through the U.S. Copyright Office’s Search Copyright Records: Registrations and Documents site. (Please note that its online databases contain records only from 1978 forward, and may not include records for the most recent copyright registrations.)

Other Resources

Copyright Term and Public Domain in the United States
Cornell’s Copyright Information Center lists types of works and where they fall within the copyright term or public domain in the US.

Copyright and Fair Use
A Web site from Stanford University that provides news on copyright and fair use issues and resources to further understand copyright and fair use.

Understanding Creative Commons
A basic explanation on how Creative Commons works along side Copyright law and how it applies to your personal work.

Copyright Crash Course
A Web site from University of Texas that provides a thorough introduction to copyright and fair use.

Know your Copy Rights
This site looks at copyright from the perspectives of all key academic stakeholders and suggests what each group can do to enhance their copyright practices and advance academic interests.