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Fair Use for the Classroom and Course Reserves


This guide is intended to answer common questions about fair use in the classroom, Canvas, and course reserves. If you have a question that is not answered here, please contact your subject librarian. For more general resources about all things copyright see:

Disclaimer: This guide is for educational and informational purposes only. It does not reflect legal advice.


General rule of thumb: When in doubt, link out to the work rather than upload or embed the work in your CMS. Doing so will avoid the restrictions of the TEACH Act. If you are unsure how to do this with materials from the Libraries' databases, contact your subject librarian.

In 2002, in recognition of the increased role of distance education, copyright laws as they pertain to the educational setting were modified for the online environment through the TEACH Act

Here is a short list of key allowances/restrictions of what you can share in an online class (synchronously or asynchronously) including streaming media:

  • Entire performances of nondramatic literary and musical works - unfortunately this does NOT include audiovisual works such as recordings of opera, movies or documentaries. It DOES include music recordings and recordings of readings (such as poetry)
  • Playing of limited and reasonable portions of dramatic literary and musical works, audiovisual works, and sound recordings - this DOES allow clips/scenes from an audiovisual work
  • Displays of works but only in an amount comparable to what would be displayed in a live classroom setting. Example: Images such as photographs and slides
  • Materials that can be considered supplementary and would not be used in a live classroom setting. Example: Recommended readings