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Copyright Information

Copyright and the Classroom

The questions below, broken out thematically, are common questions asked by faculty teaching on-the-ground, hybrid, and online classes. You can use the navigation links on the left-side of the screen to jump around the page and find the answers you need.

Online (and Hybrid) Class Considerations

Many of the questions below are true for all classes, but special consideration is needed when building your online classes to ensure you remain within copyright compliance for your resources. When you have questions about using library resources in your online classes you can reach out to the library for guidance.

Books and Articles

Can I digitize a book and post it in Brightspace?

A good rule of thumb is that you may digitize less than 10% of a book for Brightspace.  

Can I post the PDF of an article in Brightspace?


Instead you should link to the article from the library database or website directly. This follows copyright guidelines and lets us know the journal is being used. If the article you want to use is not available from a library database, you may use the article for 1 semester. After that you need to request permission to reuse the article. The link below provides directions for how to link to articles available through library databases in Brightspace.


Can I stream an entire video to Brightspace?

Yes, sometimes. Below are common questions related to streaming videos to Brightspace. Contact the library for more information:

Does the library have streaming films I can add to my Brightspace course?

Yes. You can browse for streaming films from our Big Red Box or directly from the Films on Demand database.

Can I stream a DVD I used for in-person classes?  

Sometimes, due to copyright restrictions it is not always possible to convert a DVD for streaming. Contact as soon as possible to determine if it is possible to convert your DVD for Brightspace, as this process may take several weeks. If the DVD is not able to be converted we will work with you to find an alternative resource.

What if I don't find a film I want to use in my online course available through your streaming databases? 

If you do not find the film you need within our databases, please contact as soon as possible to determine your options for making a film accessible on Brightspace or finding an alternative resource, as this process may take several weeks. 

I recorded my synchronous, in-person class on Zoom. I showed a film in that class. Can I post this on Brightspace? 

No. Posting a recording that includes a viewing of a film would violate copyright guidelines. Contact for alternatives. 

I found a feature film on YouTube that I'd like my class to watch. Can I post the link in Brightspace? 

This is not recommended. Not only could that film be posted in violation of copyright guidelines, it could be taken down at any time and your students would lose access. We recommend you browse for streaming films from our Big Red Box or directly within our Films on Demand database.

Can I stream a film from a commercial streaming service (e.g., Hulu, Netflix, Disney+, etc.) in my class?

Some commercial streaming services allow for classroom use. Please see the terms for each streaming service or contact the library if you have any questions.

Search Lavery Library for films

Fair Use

How many semesters can I use a copyrighted item under Fair Use before I have to get permission?

Generally only one semester is considered fair use if the library does not own or subscribe to the resource. Contact your librarians for more help in evaluating course materials and fair use. 

Is my use a Fair Use?

The best way to determine if your intended use of a copyrighted item is covered under Fair Use, is to use a checklist, like the one by Kenneth D. Crews.

I'm using copyrighted materials in my classroom... isn't ALL use on an academic campus considered Fair Use?

No!  While using copyrighted material for an educational purpose is in favor of the Fair Use doctrine, each case needs to be considered using the four factors (purpose, nature, amount, market effect) of Fair Use as well as considering the transformative properties of the use. The transformative property relates to the character of the use mentioned with the purpose factor. Peggy Hoon describes "transformative use" as a use that "adds new content or meaning to a work, thereby creating a different sort of work, for example, a work of parody or a critical review" (41).

Source: Hoon, Peggy and Cheryl Davis.  "Fair Use and Licensing."  The Center for Intellectual Property Handbook. Ed.  Kimberly Bonner.  New York: Neal-Schuman Publishers, Inc., 2006.  41.

How do I know if the item I am using is protected by copyright?

Learn how to investigate the copyright status of a work by visiting the U.S. Copyright Office website or reading their publication on investigating copyright status at the links below.

How do I get permission for a copyrighted work? 

There are different ways to do this depending on the piece of work and the owner of the copyright protecting it. More information may be found below.

How do I copyright my...?

According to the U.S. Copyright Office, “your work is under copyright protection the moment it is created and fixed in a tangible form.”  Copyright registration is voluntary, although you must first register your work if you wish to file a lawsuit against another party for infringement.