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Copyright for Research and Teaching

This guide serves as an introduction to U.S. copyright issues including definitions, fair use, research and classroom use, and related topics.

Copyright & Media in the Classroom

One major copyright issue that many educators face is the use of copyrighted media in their classes, whether the materials are used to teach or as part of student assignments. Understanding your rights when using these items can be incredibly useful for educators and students alike. 

Using Copyrighted Videos

Here are some best practices for using copyrighted videos in class:

  • For face-to-face education: If you show the video during class, it probably meets the public performance exemption in Section 110 of the Copyright Act, and is completely legal.
  • For distance education: If your use meets the TEACH Act or Fair Use exemptions (see the Copyright & Teaching tab), it can be used.
  • For when the exemptions above don't apply: Consider contacting Course Reserves about setting up a link to the video through one of our streaming video subscriptions. Linking to a copyrighted material is always a safer bet than posting it on Canvas.

Using Copyrighted Images

Here are some best practices for using copyrighted images in class:

  • Always cite where copyrighted images came from. 
  • "Transform" the images through recontextualization, critique, or parody. 
  • Limit access to students enrolled in the course. 
  • Link to the images rather than making a copy or reposting it on Canvas. 

Using Copyrighted Music

Navigating copyright law for music can be incredibly difficult. Like other resources, you can claim Fair Use for your use of copyrighted music in the classroom, but this can be tricky with music.

If you are looking for openly licensed or public domain music online, consider using the resources below:



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Jeff Alger
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