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Copyright and Fair Use Guide

Copyright on Campus [Video]

Copyright in Distance Education

It is essential to realize that not all copyright-related practices from a physical classroom will translate the same way into online classrooms.

Copyright in distance education relies on not only the core of US copyright law, but also the DMCA and the TEACH Act.


Guides to understanding the Technology, Education and Copyright Harmonization Act (TEACH Act) and its implications to Distance Education:


More information on the complex issues involved with copyright and distance education:


The American Library Association also provides up-to-date information on Copyright issues.

Showing Movies to a Class

Use of Movies in the [Physical] Classroom (Section 110 of the Copyright Law):

  • Movies must be legally acquired
  • Rented, purchased, borrowed from the Library
  • Copies are not legal
  • Movies must be supervised by the instructor
  • Movies must be "an integral part of the class"
  • Movies must be shown only to students enrolled in the class


The use of movies in the digital classroom is further complicated by the DMCA.

In most cases, it will not be permissible to upload or stream a personally owned video file.

It is never permissible to stream content from a personal subscription to Netflix, Prime Video, Hulu, or similar. This violates the terms of service that you agree to when you subscribe to these services, as opposed to violating copyright, which means that fair use is not an exception.

If you need to show a film in an online class, please contact the library to inquire about either licensing a streaming version of the film or investigating copyright permissions to digitize the film.

Employment Issues

Copyright for work performed in the course of your employment may belong to your employer.

  • In the case of works made "for hire", the employer and not the employee is considered to be the author. Section 101 of the copyright statute defines a "work made for hire" as:
    1. a work prepared by an employee within the scope of his or her employment; or
    2. a work specially ordered or commissioned for use as a contribution to a collective work, as a part of a motion picture or other audiovisual work, as a translation, as a supplementary work, as a compilation, as an instructional text, as a test, as answer material for a test, or as an atlas, if the parties expressly agree in a written instrument signed by them that the work shall be considered a work made for hire.... For the purpose of the foregoing sentence, ... an "instructional text" is a literary, pictorial, or graphic work prepared for publication and with the purpose of use in systematic instructional activities.
  • Many universities allow professors to maintain copyright ownership of scholarly publications, such as books and journal articles. However, some restrictions may exist, so it's best not to assume but to seek clarification if needed. See the SHSU/TSUS Policies tab in this guide for more locally relevant information.


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