Copyright and Fair Use

Fair Use | Creative Commons | Copyright Resources

Why is it important to understand copyright?

Copyright SignIt is important for instructors teaching partially or fully online to understand copyright and the issues surrounding the copyright laws because nearly all text, images, sound and other types of created works are protected by copyright. This means that as you think about adding materials to supplement your courses, you must be careful to ensure you are not violating the copyright owner's rights. 

Fair Use

Check Your Knowledge: Think you know already know about Fair Use? Check out this infographic of the common Fair Use Myths.

There is a clause in U.S. copyright law that allows educators to use copyrighted works for educational purposes. This clause is called “Fair Use”. Fair use is a defense that an educator can use if sued by the copyright holder. Learn more about Fair Use Fundamentals with this infographic created by YIPPA & ARL.

Educators would need to show that the four factors of fair use were considered. They are as follows:

  1. The purpose and character of the use - is it new? Is it for commercial or educational use?

  2. The nature of the copyrighted work - is published or unpublished? Is factual or artistic? Is it in print?

  3. The amount and substantiality of the portion used - are you using a portion of the work or the entire work? Is the portion the "heart" of the work?

  4. The effect of use on the potential market for the copyrighted work - are you depriving the copyright holder of income?

Use the Fair Use Checklist, developed by Cornell, when assessing use of materials in your courses. 

Creative Commons

Creative Commons LogoCreative Commons is a nonprofit organization that provides free legal tools for content creators to share their materials. There are a range of license types available that any content creator can use to license their work.

If you’re looking for content that you can freely use, Creative Commons licenses provides a legal method for doing so. Currently, there are hundreds of millions of works — from songs and videos to scientific and academic material — available to the public for free and legal use under the terms specified in the copyright licenses.

Copyright Resources