Copyright for Teaching Online FAQ
Teaching Online: What Do I Need to Know About Copyright?
Here are some commonly asked questions with answers provided by Calvin librarians. You’ll notice that in most responses there are links to a website or a more complete explanation if you want to know more.
- May I link from my Moodle course(s) to content from the library’s research databases?
A: Yes, for the duration of the course. We’ve already paid for the databases and our licenses cover this use.
- How do I find permanent, proxied links, so that my students will be able to access the content?
A: Each article must include the library’s proxy information within the link, so that students are led to log in through the library. Students log in using their Calvin credentials.
Example of permanent URL without the proxy: https://www.jstor.org/stable/41331568
You can also read our guide to Moodle and Canvas (seminary) for a more thorough explanation with examples.
Contact your liaison librarian for more help with this, should you need it.
- What’s allowed/not allowed on e-reserves? For example, may I put a copy of a book that I own on reserve? How much lead time does the library need to get materials on reserve?
A: While we encourage direct, proxied linking to our paid e-resources whenever possible (see above), we understand there will be cases where digitized print materials will be needed. Entire books may not be digitized for e-reserves, but faculty may request portions of books. (See #5 below). The university has an annual license with the Copyright Clearance Center (CCC). This means that faculty have the right to use and distribute print and electronic content from a specific catalog of titles (books and journals) in course reserves. You should search RightFind to find the title in question and see what the license is for that title.
If you are going to request that a document (e.g. a portion of a book) be digitized for your class, please give library staff lead time. We request at least 4 days from the time you make the request to the time the content is available for your students.
- Do you have suggestions for free images that I may add to course content, such as a PowerPoint?
- ArtStor IAP images
- CC Search
- Google Images with usage rights that are licensed, such as “free and to share” (use advanced image search)
- Public domain images (via Pixnio) ; public domain pictures
Also, see Sara Benson's, guide to locating public domain materials to remix. (Benson is the Copyright Librarian at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign).
Public domain audio works: ccmixter (http://ccmixter.org) and Jamendo (https://www.jamendo.com)
Note that no matter what the license, you still must have an attribution statement for each image.
- How much content am I allowed to scan or copy from a book in order to satisfy Fair Use?
A: Whatever you scan or copy must be a small portion (no percentage is specified) and must be for educational purposes and related directly to the course.
If you determine that something is not fair use, and you want to use it anyway, you must get permission from the copyright owner.
Your excerpt should meet the tests of brevity, spontaneity, and cumulative effect.
- May I digitize an entire book to use in a course?
A: Generally, no, if the book is not in the public domain. You may want instead to link to an eBook from one of our eBook collections (ProQuest, Ebook Central, Academic Search Complete, among others). Another option is to search the Open Library from the Internet Archive. And If it’s textbooks you’re looking for, use our OER guide for suggestions on where to search.
“Controlled digital lending,” is used by some libraries to make digital copies of a book in their collection if they consider it necessary. This is something we hope to implement in the future, but it is not part of our current offerings.
- What’s meant by “public domain”? May I freely use anything in the public domain?
A: Please see our brief explanation of public domain.
- I’d like to show a video in class. May it be digitized for my use?
Yes, under these conditions:
- The library must own a legal copy of the content. That copy must be taken out of circulation for the duration of the online reserve.
- The content must be hosted on our private library server and limited via authentication to only members of the class.
- We must make a good faith effort to request a streaming license of the content, if such a request avenue is available from the publisher.
Feel free to consult these lists to ensure compliance with the requirements for public performance over digital networks: checklist from Louisiana State University and the University of Texas at Austin.
- How can I show a video in my online class if it’s not in Hekman’s collection? How about for an in-person class?
A: First, determine whether the film can be purchased on DVD. If not, determine whether the film is available on a streaming platform the library supports. Consult your liaison librarian if you have any questions. The library cannot provide access to films on Amazon Prime, Netflix, Hulu, or other such platforms. Then send the information to Katherine Swart who will review the request for approval.
- May I link to a video on Vimeo or YouTube, even if it's possible that it was put up illegally (i.e., without acknowledging copyright)?
A: This is more a matter of ethics than of the law. If you suspect that a video has been posted without regard to copyright, why use it? This is not a good practice to model to students. Also, in circumstances like this, sometimes videos can be suddenly taken down. Your video could disappear just as you plan to use it in class.
- When is a public performance license (PPL) required for a showing of a film?
A: Only if it's not being shown face-to-face in an educational setting and for a limited time period. If it's open to visitors, then a PPL must be purchased. If it's being shown to a campus group for the purpose of entertainment, there must be a PPL. No PPL is required for a creative commons licensed film. Some films come with their own PPL when you purchase. These can be digitized for a classroom setting.
- What about if I have my own subscription to Hulu, Netflix, Disney Plus, etc. May I show films from those providers in class?
A: No. Not even for educational content (as in a documentary, for example). Students will have to purchase their own subscriptions.
- Is there a “boiler plate” message on copyright that I should include in my syllabus?
A: Suggested example: “The materials that I’ve provided in this course are for the use of students enrolled in the course and may not be further disseminated. Students may download one copy of the materials on any single computer for non-commercial, personal, or educational purposes. Beyond this, no material from the course web site may be copied, reproduced, re-published, uploaded, posted, transmitted, or distributed without the permission of the original copyright holder. I [the instructor] assume no responsibility for individuals who improperly use copyrighted material placed on the course web site.”
- What is RightFind, and how do I search it?
A: RightFind is intended to simplify copyright compliance. It integrates with Calvin’s Copyright Clearance Center’s (CCC’s) annual copyright license. You can set up a free account and begin to search. You’ll see what types of licenses are attached to the materials that you want to use.
- What does Calvin’s Copyright License cover?
A: Please see our brief explanation of Calvin's Copyright License.
- What is Fair Use and what are the provisions?
A: Educational use does not equal Fair Use! Please see our brief explanation of Fair Use. Note: in the past couple of years, courts have been giving a little more weight to factors 1 & 4.
- What is the TEACH Act? What does it allow me to do?
A: The Technology, Education and Copyright Harmonization Act covers broadcasting of digital transmissions during synchronous and asynchronous distance education, but it excludes materials that have been produced for the express purpose of distance education. It also excludes performance or display if the copy has not been lawfully made or acquired. This act is so limited that copyright experts do not advocate reliance on it.
- What is the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA)?
A: The DMCA was passed in 1998 as an anti-piracy statute. It makes it illegal to circumvent copy protections that prevent "pirates" from duplicating or selling digital copyrighted works. It does this through Technical Protection Measures and Digital Rights Management software. There are exemptions to the DMCA. Every three years the Librarian of Congress has to renew the exemptions, strike them down, and/or create new exemptions. (Example: an exemption for people with disabilities; can make modifications to a resource to make it more accessible).
- How do I get permission to use a copyrighted work, should I need it?
A: Permission is sought out when no exceptions apply (such as Fair Use). Check first with the Copyright Clearance Center or Creative Commons. If you do not find your work there, you need to contact the rights holder. There are many ways to do this, including simply doing a Google search for the author's name and contact information or finding the website for the publisher. Two databases the can be quite helpful when seeking rights holders are the WATCH file (Writers, Authors, and Their Copyright Holders) and Firms Out of Business (known successors for defunct companies that held copyrights). If you're struggling with this, please contact one of our librarians.