Copyright and Fair Use
Placing copyrighted materials online for distance students can be challenging. Until 2002, faculty and their use of copyrighted instructional materials were governed by Section 110(1) of the Copyright Act. Section 110(1) gives instructors a lot of latitude in the face-to-face classroom, but Section 110(2) severely limited faculty trying to use copyrighted materials online. These limitations received a lot of attention. In 2002, the President signed the TEACH Act which amends copyright law for the online classroom and increases the flexibility of faculty using copyrighted materials. As useful as the new TEACH Act is, it is still complicated, and open to interpretation. Faculty may now rely on Fair Use guidelines, along with the TEACH Act. The best rule of thumb, though, is when in doubt, seek permission to use the material. Fair use specifications in Sections 106 and 106A allow the fair use of copyrighted materials for specific purposes, including teaching. Fair use allows faculty to provide multiple copies of a copyrighted document for classroom use if the use follows four primary fair use factors:
- the copyrighted material being used is for nonprofit, educational, or personal purposes
- the nature of the work being used is either fact or already published work
- the percentage of the work being used is relatively small in relation to the work as a whole
- the effect of the using the work on the potential market for the copyrighted work (this factor can become more important than the others, primarily because we are in effect asking whether or not the copyright owner is losing money because of our use, which is a difficult thing to determine.
For details on copyright guidelines and the TEACH Act, please review the following resources. You may also contact Lori Williamson in the Library, 361.570.4161, Gloria Espitia in the Media Library, 361.570.4195, and Bev Hoerig, Multimedia Specialist in Learning Technologies and Design, 361.570.4282, to discuss concerns or questions you have regarding copyright.
The faculty handbook provides an overview of intellectual and copyright policy
Georgia Harper, a well-known authority on copyright law at the University of Texas, covers the implications of the TEACH Act for faculty. The site also includes a readiness checklist and appropriate supplemental links to valuable resources.
The American Library Association provides an overview of the TEACH Act, covers legislative history, meaning and significance.
The Victoria College / University of Houston-Victoria Library copyright tutorial for faculty defines copyright and Fair Use. The tutorial also defines appropriate use of copyrighted materials by both faculty and students.
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