Category Archives: Distance Education

Can we post this in the course?

Working as an instructional designer in a higher education setting to develop online courses, I find myself answering this question on a pretty regular basis. Deciding what is “Fair Use” can get complicated. What is okay to make available or present in a traditional classroom, may not be okay to post online. The act of adding it to a course website¬† is distribution and can violate the copyright of a document, presentation, video, recording…. Earlier this year I found a document that helps.

ARL’s Know Your Copy Rights website offers a helpful brochure subtitled: Using works in your teaching – What You Can Do: Tips for faculty and teaching assistants in higher education. This is a user-friendly, six page document that provides the essential information about using material in courses – face-to-face and online. Four factors are outlined to help you make a decision about using copyrighted works without permission. In brief:

  1. Purpose and character of the material – nonprofit, educational use? restricted access to students?
  2. Nature of the copyrighted material – published, out-of-print?
  3. Amount of the material used – part or entire work?
  4. Market effect of the material – is the material for sale?

The last page provides an easy matrix to assist you. I have urged faculty and course developers alike to review this if there are any questions at all. There are many shades of gray here, but the legal-speak is at a bare minimum. The author(s) are trying to assist those of us out here making these kinds of decisions without the benefit of a law degree.

This is a brochure of the Association of Research Libraries (ARL), published in 2007. Thank you, ARL, for making this available for re-use under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial License!