Making Friends with Copyright Law

copyright iconWe often view copyright as a nuisance, and it may be in certain instances. But along with protecting the rights of the owners and creators of intellectual property, copyright provides for rights of users to view, distribute, modify and do other things with certain materials for a fee or free of charge (such as under Fair Use).

Fair Use guidelines start with the premise that materials are used for educational purposes, and then considers several factors to establish whether such use is warranted.


Materials that are expected to be used by students are generally to be purchased by them. You may share a chapter or its equivalent from a book containing 10 or more chapters or up to 10% of a book with fewer chapters. It appears that you may continue to use this from semester to semester.


Ideally, your institution would have public broadcasting rights. If not, using publicly available videos, as well library services or rental (one night rentals are really cheap), you will be better off.

YouTube: if you suspect that a video is improperly posted, or unlawfully obtained, you may not use it in a course. It is a bummer, but doing so would make you an accomplice in stealing intellectual property and that’s not a good thing.

Playing a movie you rented or personally own won’t work either. The program or university needs to own the movie before you can consider showing it to a restricted group of enrolled students.


Assume that unless explicitly stated so, all resources online are copyright protected, so you may not just grab an image and save it to display in your course. Linking to the image may also be problematic.

Try to stick with Creative Commons licenses or your own images and icons.

Try Flickr Creative Commons (remember about attribution, or plagiarism is your next concern) or this Iconfinder.

Journal Articles

Well, it appears as if articles can be attachments in your course instead of links to Full Text Journals, although the latter provides excellent practice.

Finally, the big disclaimer

This is not legal advice, just some perspective on Fair Use and your expanded rights under Fair Use guidelines to use materials for educational purposes with students in online courses. Please review the UNE Copyright Policy for UNE’s official guidelines.

Tags: | |

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *