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Copyright & Fair Use


Frequently Asked Questions:

Disclaimer: The questions represented below are intended to guide your own personal evaluation of fair use. They are examples and not exhaustive of all scenarios. They are also not professional legal advice.

Q: Can I make copies of my textbook and place them on reserve at the library?

A: No. While your intended use is educational, it would involve copies of the entire creative work, which would impact the potential market for the copyright owner. However, you can provide an original copy to place on reserve at the library (or, if the library owns the material, request it to be placed on reserve).

Q: Can I make a copy of an article I found and distribute it to my class?

A: Yes, as long as it relates to a teaching activity and your are giving one copy to each student. This would be an educational use with an amount that is not substantial. Simply downloading/copying an article and posting it would not be fair use.

Q: Can I download a PDF of an article I found and upload it to my course module in Blackboard?

A: It depends but this practice is generally frowned upon, as the article could be Open Access, available in the library databases, or not publicly available at all. Best practice would be to provide a permalink so that students can retrieve the PDF themselves.

Q: How do I provide a permalink to an article?

A: If it is available on the internet and Open Access, you can simply use the DOI. If it is in a library database, you should use the permalink provided within that database. Do not link to a DOI of an article if it is not Open Access - students may see a paywall and not have access. Always use the library databases or Open Access content when possible.

Q: Can I make a copy of a Shakespeare play?

A: Yes, as that material is available in the public domain.

Q: Can I show a movie to my class for instructional purposes?

A: Yes, though it should meet a series of guidelines in our Film Use Policy (attached below).

Q: Can I show a movie for our film club?

A: Yes, but without any pedagogical purpose, you will need to obtain public performance rights.

Q: Can I show a YouTube video in my class?

A: Best practice would entail providing links to videos.

Q: Can I use test bank questions from Textbook A if I'm using Textbook B for my class?

A: Reuse of test bank questions is not recommended as they are likely part of the copyright of the original textbook.

Q: Can I show a clip of a movie to my class?

A: If the clip is of a reasonable amount (such as 3 minutes) and provided through a legal avenue (such as the copyright owner's own website/YouTube account), this could fall under fair use assuming all other conditions are met.

Q: I have an article through Interlibrary Loan that would be perfect to give out to my class. Can I do that?

A: Per 17 U.S. Code § 108 (e) (1),  Interlibrary loan materials are intended for "private study, scholarship, or research". We also ask that you do NOT ask/require your entire class to all individually request the same article, as NSU Libraries could be liable for large copyright fees in fulfilling such requests and may instead cancel them.

Q: The publisher provided me with an answer key to our textbook's questions. Can I send that to my students?

A: This should fall under fair use. It would be educational, a small portion of the larger textbook whole, and assuming your students purchased the textbook, is not resulting in any lost sale to the copyright owner.

Q: I have some PowerPoint files/visual media from the publisher to complement the textbook. Can I post those in Blackboard? Can I reuse/post them every semester?

A: It depends, but probably. In most cases the material should have a copyright statement attached or embedded that outlines permitted uses. If it doesn't, you can analyze it in the context of Fair Use and it would probably meet those factors. However, if the publisher has a copyright statement that prohibits it, such copyright statements/licenses/agreements will supersede Fair Use.

Q: Can a student use copyrighted material in a paper/thesis/dissertation?

A: Generally speaking, yes. Such use should be non-commercial, educational, transformative (if analyzing/critiquing), would contain a small portion, and not replace a sale.

Q: What if my question isn't covered here?

A: You can always perform a fair use evaluation yourself, using a fair use checklist or evaluator tool. You could also reach out to the copyright owner. Lastly, you can reach out CTL if it involves Blackboard or the subject librarian for your area.