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Copyright: Classroom Use

Teaching & Copyright

To maximize your use of copyrighted materials within the boundaries of copyright and other related laws, review the information below which contains the institutional best practices.

Suggestion #1 Password protect course materials

Password protect course materials by posting them in Blackboard which ensures that only students currently enrolled in the course can access the materials.  

Suggestion #2 Link to articles and book chapter when possible

Link to articles or book chapters in library licensed databases rather than uploading them to Blackboard. Fair use comes into play when reproductions (uploading PDF of articles) are made. By directing students to a resource in a library database via a link, the material is not reproduced. Most databases licenses permit students to make a single copy of an article.  

What if an online copy is not available?

You can upload the PDF of a document as long as the use is determined to be more fair after applying the four fair use criteria. Portions considered to be fair use vary and should be a limited amount tailored  to the pedagogical purpose. For a book, a fair use portion would seldom exceed 15% of the work.  For articles, it would seldom exceed one article per journal issue. 

How do I make sure I am using the correct URL to link to the article?

When linking to an article from a library licensed database, use the permalink for the record and ensure that the library proxy URL is included.  The Proxy URL allows students to access the resources from off-campus. This is especially important for distance students taking online courses.

The Library Proxy URL is  If not included in the link you are posting in Blackboard, add it to the front of the URL.  


Warning: In general, do not use the URL in the search bar.  It is a temporary link and will expire after a period of time. Locate the permanent URL for the document.  

The table below provides information on locating the permanent URL and whether the Proxy is included for the major database providers.

Database Provider

Name of permanent URL

Location in database

Is proxy URL included?

Ebsco  Permalink Click on title and permalink icon is located onr right side of page.  Yes
Proquest  Document URL Click on Abstract/Details and scroll down to bottom of page to Document URL Yes
JSTOR Stable URL Click on title to get to landing page.  The stable URL is below the citation information. No - you need to add it to the front of the stable URL.


Suggestion #3 Using Video Clips

In a face to face classroom setting, an instructor is able to show audiovisual materials such as films or sound recordings if it has an instructional purpose. However to satisfy the requirements of Section 110 of the Copyright Act which permits this use, the instructor or teaching assistant must be present. 

In an online teaching environment,  the TEACH Act provides a framework to perform and display copyrighted works in an online teaching environment.  Permission is not needed from the rights holder as long as certain conditions are met.  The 22 conditions are often considered onerous and, as a result, many instructors rely on the fair use provisions outlined in copyright law and only show a portion of the work that satisfies the pedagogical need.   

Suggested resource: If interested in pursuing the TEACH Act as an exemption for displaying copyrighted materials in an online course, consult the University of Texas Library TEACH Act Checklist for a list of requirements that need to be met. 

Suggested Practices for Steaming Media when fair use applies

  • Use only a portion of the film.
  • Provide context in lecture materials on how the film clip is relevant to the course.
  • Limit students' ability to download or share the material.  

Streaming Media Resources

If you have a physical copy of an audiovisual material that needs to be converted, complete the Steaming Media Request Form (FSU Technology).


What you can do without seeking permission or paying fees

The Association of Research Libraries Know Your Copy Rights brochure is a useful guide that discusses what you can use in the classroom that doesn't require you to seek permission or pay royalty fees. 

The Chart below, adapted from the brochure, provides a snapshot of the materials that can be used.

  Can I exhibit materials in a live classroom?

Can I post materials
to an online class?


Can I distribute readings?


Public Domain Works  Yes Yes Yes
Your own works (as long as you kept the copyright or reserved usage rights) Yes Yes Yes
Open Access Works Yes Link to resource Link to resource
Library licensed resources Yes Link to resource Link to resource
Works with a Creative Commons license Yes Yes Yes
Other works  Yes If it meets the Teach Act or Fair Use standards. If not then link or seek permission. If it meets the Teach Act or Fair Use standards. If not then link or seek permission.


What if a resource I want to use does not meet fair use or Teach Act standards?

If a resource you want to use for a course does not meet any of the exceptions within copyright law, consider the following options:

  • Seek permission from the copyright holder
  • Substitute a comparable source owned by the library
  • Check to see if the library can purchase an electronic format of the source needed so you can link to the information.