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Scholarly Communications: Teaching Online

Includes information on Copyright, Creative Commons, Fair Use, Public Domain, Open Access Resources and More.

Copyright Guidance from USC Columbia

USC Columbia Copyright Policy H.2.a

A provision of federal copyright law, 17 U.S. Code § 110(1), provides that the performance or display of a copyrighted work—except knowingly showing an illegally duplicated film—by instructors or pupils in the course of face-to-face instructional activities of a nonprofit educational institution in a classroom or similar physical location, is not infringement.

The exemption applies to display of a work by means of any sort of projection device or process, but only as long as there is no transmission beyond the place where the class is occurring.

This allows for the use and display of films, art, literary works and other copyright works in in-person classes. It does not provide a copyright exemption if the class containing the copyrighted work is webcast or otherwise transmitted outside of the physical location where the class if being held, either synchronously or asynchronously.

USC Columbia Copyright Policy H.1.b.
Another provision of the law, 17 U.S. Code § 110(2) (known as the “TEACH Act”), applies to use or display of copyrighted material in classes that are transmitted either synchronously or asynchronously via webcast or other means. Such displays are not infringement as long as the following conditions are met:  

  1. “the performance or display is made by, at the direction of, or under the actual supervision of an instructor as an integral part of a class session offered as a regular part of the systematic mediated instructional activities;” You are in charge of the material 
  2. “the performance or display is directly related and of material assistance to the teaching content of the transmission;”  The material relates to the class 
  3. the transmission is made solely for and reception is limited to “students officially enrolled in the course for which the transmission is made” or “officers or employees of governmental bodies as a part of their official duties or employment;” AND the material is just for the class’s students 
  4. the transmitting body or institution does the following:  
  • provides materials and has in place policies that promote compliance with the copyright laws, legally procured 
  • provides notice that the materials used in the course may be protected by copyright, give notice 
  • applies measures that prevent recipients from retaining the transmission past the end of the class session or further distributing the work, and prevent further transmission 

  • does not attempt to interfere with the copyright owner’s protection of the work.