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Copyright Basics

copyright logoKnow your rights as an educator!

Copyright protects the particular way authors have expressed themselves. One of the rights accorded to the owner of copyright is the right to reproduce or to authorize others to reproduce the work in copies or recordings. But this right is subject to certain limitations found in sections 107 through 118 of the copyright law (title 17, U. S. Code). One of the more important limitations for educators is the doctrine of “”fair use, which describes four factors that must be taken into consideration as a whole.

Copyright law specifically permits "face-to-face" instructional display and performance of a copyrighted work in a classroom, so long as the work is relevant to the course instruction. The TEACH act extends portions of the face-to-face exemption to distance education usage, although this act includes significant limitations as to what and how much of a work may be shown that are not included in the face-to-face exception.  The resources below are offered as guidance, but judicial interpretation of copyright law continues to evolve with each court case, so stay informed. 

Copyright for Educators video series, by PBS SoCal

Other Resources

Copyright Guidelines for Teachers, by PBS SoCal

Copyright Basics - CSUSM Library page by Carmen Mitchell, Institutional Repository Librarian

Copyright Crash Course - the TEACH Act - University of Texas

Common Scenarios - Copyright and Fair Use for University Faculty - CSU Long Beach Library

Educational Uses of Non-coursepack Materials - Stanford University Libraries

Can I Use Someone Else's Work? Can someone Else Use Mine? FAQ's from the U.S. Copyright Office

Fair Use: Codes of Best Practice - Center for Media and Social Impact, American University - 11 different documents that allow scholars to interpret the copyright doctrine of fair use as it applies to specific media and situations.