Skip to main content

Hamersly Library

.Copyright and Fair Use: Educational Exemptions

LEGAL DISCLAIMER: THE CONTENT ON THIS WEBSITE IS INTENDED FOR INFORMATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY AND DOES NOT CONSTITUTE LEGAL ADVICE.

Educational Exemptions to the U.S. Copyright Act

Copyrights are subject to many limitations and exceptions that permit the public to make certain uses of copyrighted works. Section 107 (Fair Use) is the best known of these exceptions and is probably the most important.

The U.S. Copyright Act, however, includes more than a dozen statutory exceptions. Most of these exceptions are narrow in their application and depend upon meeting a variety of specific conditions. By contrast, fair use is flexible and general in application and scope.

If a use is not covered by an exception, one can also make a fair use determination or request permission from the copyright owner. Other parts of this website offer guidance about fair use and permissions.

Below is a brief summary of some of the statutory exceptions of importance to the university, with references to the provision of the U.S. Copyright Act:

Based on and used under a Creative Commons BY license from the Copyright Advisory Office of Columbia University, Kenneth D. Crews, director.

Displays and Performances in Face-to-Face Teaching: Section 110 (1)

Section 110(1) of the U.S. Copyright Act allows educators and students to perform or display all types of copyrighted works in a classroom or similar place at non-profit educational institutions. Instructors and students can recite poetry, read plays, show videos, play music, project slides, and engage in many other performances and displays of protected works in the classroom setting.

 CAVEATS:

1. There should be a pedagogical purpose for using the material.

2. There are no limitations to the amount of material that can be used.

3. Materials must be acquired legally.

4. This exemption does not apply to making copies or posting materials to Moodle. For those activities, make a fair use determination or request permission from the copyright owner.

Based on and used under a Creative Commons BY license from the Copyright Advisory Office of Columbia University, Kenneth D. Crews, director.

Exemptions to Prohibition Against Circumvention of Technological Measures Protecting Copyrighted Works: Section 1201

Section 1201, part of the 1998 Digital Millennium Copyright Act, provides that, upon the recommendation of the Register of Copyrights, the Librarian of Congress may, every three years, designate certain classes of works as exempt from the prohibition against circumvention of technological measures that control access to copyrighted works.

As a result of the 2012 section 1201(a)(1) rulemaking process, the Librarian of Congress has granted the following exemptions related to academic institutions:

1. Literary works distributed electronically (e-books), to permit blind and other persons with print disabilities to use screen readers and other assistive technologies;

3. Motion pictures on DVDs or distributed by online services, for purposes of criticism or comment in noncommercial videos, documentary films, nonfiction multimedia ebooks offering film analysis, and for certain educational uses by college and university faculty and students and kindergarten through twelfth grade educators; and

4. Motion pictures and other audiovisual works on DVDs or distributed by online services, for the purpose of research to create DVD players capable of rendering captions and descriptive audio for persons who are blind, visually impaired, deaf or hard of hearing.

Reproduction by Libraries and Archives: Section 108

Section 108 of the U.S. Copyright Act allows libraries to make copies of materials for preservation and security, to give copies to users for their private study or research, and to send copies through interlibrary loan. Like most of the statutes, it applies only to certain types of works, and only under certain circumstances.

Used under a Creative Commons BY license from the Copyright Advisory Office of Columbia University, Kenneth D. Crews, director.

TEACH Act

The Technology, Education and Copyright Harmonization (TEACH) Act was signed into law in 2002, and clarifies how educators can make use of copyrighted works in online education -- providing the institution and instructor meet certain requirements:

  • The institution must be a government body or an accredited, non-profit institution
  • Institutions must establish copyright standards and provide informational materials to faculty, students, and relevant staff members
  • Students must be notified that work used in the course may be subject to copyright protection
  • The materials must be integral to the course and part of systematic, mediated instructional activities
  • Materials must be legally obtained
  • Materials must only be available to those enrolled in the class and not longer than is need for the “class session”
  • The institution must use technology to prevent students from unauthorized further dissemination of materials

Due to the restrictive nature of the TEACH Act's requirements

and the narrowly tailored uses of copyrighted works,

many academic institutions

-- INCLUDING WOU --

do NOT use the TEACH Act.

 

WOU instructors should RELY on FAIR USE instead.