Copyright Guidelines and Resources

Teaching with Copyright

Using Copyrighted Works in Your Teaching

You do not need a lawyer to answer many of your common copyright questions. What is needed, however, is for your decision about using a copyrighted work to rest solidly on a reasonable, good faith analysis of relevant circumstances. Such an effort is important because it is the right thing to do and because the US Copyright Act provides relief from monetary statutory damages to employees of non-profit educational institutions, acting within the scope of their employment, who base their copyright decision on a reasonable, good-faith evaluation.

There are 6 overarching questions that collectively represent a good-faith analysis for circumstances that are common in teaching at most universities.

Ask yourself:

  1. Is the work copyrighted? If not, no further analysis is needed. If yes or if you don’t know, read on.
  2. What is the setting for the class where I want to display or hand out a copy of the work — is it in a face-to-face classroom or in an online course? The law allows different uses in different settings.
  3. Is the work covered by a license, such as those governing my library’s electronic journals and databases?
  4. Is there a specific provision in the copyright law that supports my proposed use without seeking prior permission from the copyright holder?
  5. Does the fair use provision of the copyright law justify my proposed use?
  6. Do I need permission from the copyright holder for the use I propose?

UofL acknowledges Know Your Copy Rights for this information.

^ Top of Page