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University Libraries   /   Coronavirus Libraries' Updates and Resources  /   Copyright and Online Courses

Teaching Support for Online Instruction

Copyright for Emergency Remote Teaching

The University Libraries endorses the findings of experts and supports that copyright law should permit copying portions of rights-protected works for emergency remote teaching.

This guide outlines how to prudently apply fair use to copyrighted work including slides, audio, video, and course material. 

If you need additional assistance: 

 

Recording Video

Slide Images

If it was legal to show slide images in class, it is likely legal to show them to students via live video conferencing or in recorded videos.

 

This may be a surprise if you have heard that there is a big difference between class lecture slides and online conference slides - but the issue is usually less offline versus online, than a restricted versus an unrestricted audience:

  • As long as your new course video is being shared through course websites limited to the same enrolled students, the legal issues are fairly similar.
  • Many instructors routinely post a copy of their slides as a file for students to access after in-person course meetings, which also likely doesn't present any new issues after online course meetings.

 

In-lecture use of audio or video

The "Classroom Use Exception" does not apply to streaming media. You may need to have students independently access the content outside of your lecture videos.

 

If you can limit audio and video use for your course to relatively brief clips, you may be able to include those in lecture recordings or live-casts under the copyright provision called fair use. For media use longer than brief clips, you may need to have students independently access the content outside of your lecture videos. Some further options are outlined below.

Where to post your videos

There may be some practical differences in outcomes depending on where you post new course videos - for example, on eCampus.

Course Readings and Other Resources

Course Reserves

Course Reserves provide online access to the Libraries material -- linking to Libraries subscription resources, finding ebooks where available, and much more.

It's always easier to link

Publicly Available Content

Linking to publicly available online content like news websites, existing online videos, etc. is rarely a copyright issue. (Better not to link to existing content that looks obviously infringing itself - Joe Schmoe's YouTube video of the entire "Black Panther" movie is probably not a good thing to link to. But Sara Someone's 2-minute video of herself and her best friend talking over a few of the pivotal scenes may be fair use, and is not something you should worry about linking to.)

 

Library Materials

Linking to subscription content through the Libraries is also a great option. Please see our guide on using library materials.

 

Sharing Copies

Making copies of new materials for students (by downloading and uploading files, or by scanning from physical documents) can present some copyright issues, but they're not different from those involved in deciding whether to share something online with your students when you are meeting in-person.

  • It's better not to make copies of entire works - but most instructors don't do that!
  • Copying portions of works to share with students will often be fair use, and at times (especially in unusual circumstances, or with works that aren't otherwise commercially available) it may even be fair use to make lengthier copies.
  • It is an instructor’s right and responsibility to make their own decisions about when they think they can make copies for students.

Where an instructor doesn't feel comfortable relying on fair use, a subject specialist librarian may be able to suggest alternative content that is already online through library subscriptions, or publicly online content.

 

Multimedia

  • Showing an entire movie or film or musical work online may be a bit more of an issue than playing it in class - but there may be options for your students to access it independently online.
  • The Libraries have licensed video content and audio options for A&M users.
  • Standard commercial streaming options like Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, and Disney+ may sometimes be the easiest option. (For exclusive content, the commercial services may be the only option.)
  • Where there are no other options, fair use may sometimes extend to playback of an entire work. Course reserves might be an option for these works. 

Resources

 

This web site presents information about copyright law. The University Libraries make every effort to assure the accuracy of this information but do not offer it as counsel or legal advice. 

Adapted from “Rapidly shifting your course from in-person to online” by Nancy Sims, University of Minnesota Libraries, and licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial License.