Skip to Main Content

Copyright & Fair Use

What kinds of video and audio media can you use?

Can I show a video in a classroom?  YES!  Section 110(1) of the Copyright Law allows this.  This is the face-to-face teaching exemption.

Can I stream a DVD or VHS tape via Canvas?  You can stream "reasonable and limited portions" without seeking permission from a rightsholder.  This is part of the TEACH act, Section 110(2). To stream an entire video/film you would need to pursue permission or a license unless the film is in the public domain. 

Does the library subscribe to any licensed streaming video resources?  YES! MC3  Library provides access 20,000 videos/segments via Films on Demand, and several more at Kanopy. There are more licensed films behind a login at 365 (these are films for which we have gained licenses over many years).

Can I show a video at a special event?  You will need to secure public performance rights to show a video in a setting outside the classroom (such as a Film Series). 

Can I record a video from television and show it in class?  YES, but there are Congressional guidelines saying you can only retain it for 45 days as a teaching tool (there can be some flexibility with this). It's best to try to acquire the content from a commercial vendor. 

I still have questions. Contact Librarian Kevin Strunk at for additional assistance.

What can you use from Library Databases?

Under the “fair use” provision of copyright law, a person may make limited use of another author’s work without asking permission. As noted elsewhere in this guide:

There's no one right answer as to what constitutes a "fair use" of a particular copyrighted work. The answer varies from situation to situation.

Posting an item to a learning management system does not exempt an instructor from copyright regulations. Therefore, instructors are encouraged to consult these guidelines. In order of preference, these include: 

  1. Link to your article from a library database (see below for more information on locating persistent links to articles).
  2. If a persistent link is unavailable, complete a Fair Use Evaluation, scan your article, and then upload it to the learning management system.
  3. Repeated use over multiple semesters weighs against fair use. For repeated use, you will likely need to contact the publisher and request permission.

Persistent Links:

If you copy a database link from your Internet browser into a learning management system, that link will eventually stop working because it is a dynamic, non-static link. To eliminate this problem, most database companies now offer persistent links for their articles. Persistent links (also known as persistent URLs) are stable links that will consistently take students to a particular full-text article in a library database.

Note that to ensure access by off-campus users, all persistent links should include proxy information in the first segment of the URL:

For example, if you wanted to link to the following persistent URL (noted in bold)  from the "course documents" section of Blackboard, then it should look like this:

Need help locating a persistent link in a particular library database? See the Permalinks LibGuide for instructions on obtaining permalinks from EBSCO, JSTOR, Gale, ProQuest, and Project MUSE databases.

What is freely available in Open Educational Resources?

This is just a sampling of some of the Open Educational Resources (OERs) available online. You can also visit the libguide devoted specifically to OER resources and practices.

If you're looking for specific OERs, the best person to talk to is your librarian.