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Using Copyrighted Materials in the Classroom: Home

Copyright and Course Materials

Purpose of this Guide

This guide has been designed to assist faculty members in determining what their options are when providing students with copyrighted materials that supplement any required textbooks.  Of course, the Reserves Desk can assist in making available print and electronic content through the Library's website and the Bookstore's Academic Publishing division is available to assist in compiling, reprinting, and clearing copyright for coursepacks and out-of-print materials.  However, there are still many instances when an instructor chooses to provide or share copyrighted materials with students directly. Faculty members have several legally sanctioned options:

For more information, see Know Your Copyrights, published by the Association for Research Libraries.


Why Should this Concern Me?

Faculty members have a complex relationship with copyright because they are generally both holders of copyrights and users of material protected by copyright. Abiding by copyright law is in the spirit of the academic enterprise in that it shows respect for your colleagues and their intellectual property.  Some instructors assume that any use of copyrighted material in their classrooms is covered under fair use because it is an educational use. This is an eroneous interpretation of the Copyright Act. While unintentional infringement of a copyright can result in personal liability for damages, willful infringement can carry a statutory penalty of up to $150,000 for each separate instance.



NOTE ABOUT THIS GUIDE: While much of this guide does apply to teaching in a distance environment, it has been created primarily for the face-to-face classroom instructor. Particularlly with regard to the statutory exemptions, there are significant differences to consider.  The TEACH Act specifically addresses transmitted content, but has very stringent requirements in order to offer protection.  Britt Fagerheim, the Regional Campus and Distance Education librarian, can assist you in making sure you are in compliance. Contact Britt at

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Jennifer Duncan
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