Skip to Main Content
We are working to upgrade the research experience by making ongoing improvements to our Research Guides.
You may encounter changes in the look and feel of the Research Guides website along with structural changes to our existing guides. If you have any questions or concerns about this process please let us know.

Copyright for Teaching and Instruction

Copyright for Teaching and Instruction

Fair Use  Public Domain  Classroom Use  DMCA  Creative Commons Request Permission

The answer for any copyright question usually begins with 'it depends...' rather than a quick 'yes' or 'no.'  Instead, an answer is guided by the details of using a copyrighted work and for what purposes.  Applying and interpreting copyright law, particularly exemptions (also known as exceptions), will help inform if and how a copyrighted work can be reused without permission. 

The chart below presents a list of common copyright scenarios for teaching and learning.  What you may do depends on whether you are teaching face-to-face, posting works on Canvas, or having a class held online.  By selecting your setting, you can view links to relevant copyright concepts that can inform your copyright question. 

Your decision to use a copyrighted work will ultimately be based on your interpretation of these exceptions, values for using the intellectual property of others, and tolerance for risk.  

While copyright law and its language may appear daunting, be assured that some limits to copyright are essential for free speech, cultural expression, promotion of new ideas and creations, and also teaching and learning.  Increasing your familiarity with copyright concepts will help you make better informed use of them.

I want to: For face-to-face teaching and in a classroom: On Canvas or For an Online Class Refer to the Following Page(s):
Make paper copies of a copyrighted work. X  
Share a URL to a web page. X X

Distributing a URL on its own does not violate copyright.  Recommended:

  • Know who is responsible for the content of the web page.
  • Be sure the content was legally posted (and not a pirated work).
  • For accessibility purposes, make sure the web page doesn't require a log-in (that's not an FAUNet ID) or have other restrictions like a paywall on viewing it.
Read, share, or perform a copyrighted work. X  
Show a video or digital work. X  
Find or use works for teaching (e.g., books, articles, assignments, videos). X X
Find or use images or clipart for teaching, presentations, or publications. X X
Scan a whole copyrighted book or copy an entire movie. X X

Not recommended.  This is usually a violation of copyright although works in the public domain or rare, hard-to-obtain items may qualify; in these cases, please review and apply relevant copyright laws.

Talk about this with someone! X X Contact us!  The FAU Libraries does not provide legal advice, but we can help you clarify your use of copyrighted work, ID what copyright principles might apply, and other options. 

Disclaimer: The FAU Libraries and its faculty, staff, and administration are not attorneys and cannot interpret the law.  This information is provided for educational purposes only and does not substitute for advice from legal counsel.

Copyright Essentials

Federal Laws

Copyright and Related Concepts in Plain Language

Copyright in Higher Education and Better Practices

Copyright Clearance Center (2017, September 28).  Copyright is essential [Video]. YouTube. 


Better Practices for Teaching and Instruction

When it comes to fair use, recommendations and codes of best practices have been created by communities of practice to suggest lower-risk uses of copyrighted work.  Best practices are frequently created with the advise of legal experts.  Keep in mind, however, that they are suggestions and do not override copyright law.  

Copyright Policies at FAU

Copyright for Student Work

Books in the Library

Last updated on Jan 29, 2024 2:13 PM