The WCC Library is happy to provide information and resources to faculty wishing to incorporate copyrighted or openly licensed materials into their classes (F2F, hybrid, or online). You can ask for a consultation on fair use or schedule an instruction session for your class, department, or research group.
Contact copyright librarian Ro McKernan at (HNR 201E, email or ext 3954) for information and assistance.
Faculty wishing to create a customized print coursepack for their class are encouraged to do so. A coursepack can contain your own material or third-party material. The library will work with you to clear permissions if required. For material that does not need permissions or royalties, please use Open Educational Resources
You can request a coursepack through this form. Please respect deadlines for production.
Alternatively we can create a 'reading list' for your class. Here is an example.
Open Educational Resources
Open (free + permissions) Textbooks
The library encourages the use of Open Education Resources (OER) whenever possible for their ease of modification and use by faculty, as well as a way to reduce textbook costs to students.
If you are new to OER and are looking to find material, a beginner's guide is available.
If you would like to dive right in - check out this "Creating & Modifying OER" tutorial.
This resource from the SBCTC, provides an easy pathway to learn, find, use and apply OER to your teaching. You can also find:
Consultation is available at the library. Stop by anytime or book an appointment with Rowena.
Education Exemptions - the Basics
"It's OK because it's educational"
The Copyright Act includes numerous exceptions that permit you to use a copy-protected work without seeking prior permission; however you should never assume blanket permission.
The Face-to-Face Classroom Exception
The Classroom Exception permits you to display or perform copy-protected works as part of your classroom instruction. The work must be related to your instruction.
The Online Classroom Exceptions (AKA the TEACH Act)
The TEACH Act provides a similar but not identical exception for instruction in the online environment.
There are some limitations to the TEACH ACT such as:
- Your display of 'dramatic works' must be only 'limited portions'. Note neither of those terms are defined.
- Textbooks, workbooks and other required materials should not be posted (cannot be posted as a substitute for purchase)
- Works produced specifically for online education may not be included.
Fair Use Simplified
Only the courts can definitively decide whether a use if 'Fair' or 'Infringing' which can be frustrating and confusing if you are looking for a simple yes/no answer. However, there are ways to minimize your risk.
For example, ask yourself is if your use is 'Transformative' in nature by documenting your responses to:
- Has the material you have taken from the original work been transformed by adding new expression or meaning?
- Was value added to the original by creating new information, new aesthetics, new insights, and understandings?
Additional, you may want to evaluate your use against the same factors that the courts use (note, there are no bright lines or deminimus uses that are 'safe').
In other words, you need to think about what you are using, how much you are using, and whether your use is hurting the value of the work.
Please understand that Fair Use is not a checklist nor is it a vote where the majority of factors rules. Fair use is about striking a balance that permits use for the public good that does not do too much harm to the creator of the original work.
You can document your decision (highly recommended) using this tool. Maintaining your own records can assist you in the event of a dispute.
Here is an illustrative video of Fair Use in music creation from William & Mary Libraries.
Public Performance Rights
The library has an extensive database of educational films that can be publicly performed through Films on Demand.
For material that does not have a PPR, you must seek permission from the copyright holder and possibly pay a fee. There are agencies online who can facilitate that.
Openly licensed films that may be viewed by anyone are available online. Some recommended sources include:
- WCC Copyright Policy
- Take Down Info for Copyright Stakeholders
- Copyright Law of the United States of America and Related Laws Contained in Title 17 of the United States Code from the U.S. Copyright Office
The material contained herein is for informational purposes only and is not legal advice or a substitute for legal counsel.