Skip to main content
Jefferson

Copyright & Fair Use

Using Copyrighted Material in the Classroom

Copyright law allows for works (texts, images, video, etc.) to be used in a face-to-face classroom setting at a nonprofit educational institution as long as the items have been obtained lawfully. However, repeated use of the same materials in a classroom may weigh against fair use, especially where such use may impact the profits of educational publishers. Instructors are also expected to obtain permission to use items that they intend to place in an academic course pack to be distributed to an entire class. 

Can I Upload Copyrighted Material to an Online Course

The ability of an instructor to use copyrighted works are less expansive in an online educational environment. Current copyright law protects nearly all readings and other course materials that instructors might place in an online learning management system. Faculty may upload materials ONLY if any of the following apply:

  1. The material is in the public domain.
  2. The instructor owns the copyright to the material.
  3. The copyright owner of the material grants permission in writing.
  4. The use of the material is a "fair use" under the law.
  5. The material falls within another statutory exception.

The Teach Act (2002) may also allow for additional use of materials for online education. However, it does have its limits, most notably a prohibition on sharing textbook like materials traditionaly expected to be purchased by students.

Link to Scott Library's Eresources

If you wish to upload a digitized version of a copyrighted work in Blackboard (such as a PDF), first check if the material can be accessed through one of the resources available at Scott Memorial Library. Due to copyright law, it is better practice to link directly to licensed material rather than to upload a new copy. 

Thousands of journals and ebooks are available through Scott Memorial Library’s licenses. Faculty can post links to library resources in Blackboard, and students can use those links to legally access resources through the library. Please read these instructions on how to use our proxy link to library resources available to students from off campus, or contact askalibrarian@jefferson.edu if you need assistance creating direct links to the library’s licensed journals and ebooks. Please also contact the library if you wish to use an ebook in your class, as some may have limited concurrent user licenses.

Disclaimer

The information presented in this guide is intended for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice.  Matters of law are subject to interpretation, and University Counsel is the source of authoritative information for Thomas Jefferson University. If you have specific legal questions pertaining to Thomas Jefferson University, please contact the Office of University Counsel.