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Copyright and Copywrong

Using Copyrighted Media in DISTANCE EDUCATION

Before distributing copyrighted material digitally via Blackboard or playing copyrighted material in a broadcast or video streamed class, verify that you have copyright clearance from the owner or publisher of the material.

What copyright guidelines do I need to follow?

If you need assistance seeking copyright clearance, use the appropriate online Copyright Permission form (MIDAS login required).

Information on this page is from the Center for Learning and Teaching (CLT).


What Materials are Considered Copyrighted?

If a work is in tangible form it is considered copyrighted. According to the Copyright Act, works that can be copyrighted include:

  • Literary works
  • Photographic, pictorial, graphic, and sculptural works
  • Films and other audiovisual works
  • Sound recordings
  • Musical works
  • Dramatic works
  • Choreographic and pantomime works

Copyright is secured automatically when the work is created; and a work is created when it is fixed in a copy or phono-record for the first time.

Generally, the TEACH Act covers use of copyrighted media in distance education. The following guidelines are from the ARL's Know Your Copyrights:

  • the work must be displayed under your supervision
  • it must be part of the class session
  • it must be related to your teaching content
  • the work must be lawfully made and not excerpted from a product that was specifically designed and marketed for use in an online course
  • you must password-protect or otherwise restrict access to your enrolled students
  • you must reasonably prevent your students from saving or printing the work
  • you must include a general copyright warning on your class Web site

You should always assume that any materials found on the Internet are copyrighted, unless stated otherwise. Do not assume that the material is not copyrighted just because you do not see a copyright notice. Apply the Fair Use doctrine before using copyrighted works on your course website. If in doubt, obtain permission (in writing) from the copyright holder.

Fair Use Doctrine : Fair use is a defense to a claim of copyright infringement. It is a defense to copying another person’s work for academic and research purposes.

  • There is no specific number of words, lines, or notes that may safely be taken without permission.
  • Acknowledging the source of the copyrighted material does not substitute for obtaining permission.

The ability to successfully rely on the fair use defense depends on the underlying facts of each case. To determine whether your copying constitutes a fair use, see Fair Use Definition .