Here are some common copyright question-and-answers. If you have a copyright question that isn't answered below, please contact our librarians for help.
Q: Can Schewe Library answer my copyright questions?
A: Yes, though bear in mind that Schewe doesn’t have a copyright officer or JD on staff. We can provide basic guidance on unambiguous copyright issues, but we can't provide legal advice or weigh in on particularly thorny issues. For difficult cases, you'll need to consult with the college's legal counsel.
Q: Can I show videos in class?
A: Yes, with limited exceptions. The use of copyright-protected works in the classroom and in educational contexts is governed by sections 107 (the “fair use” provision) and 110(1) (the “face-to-face” teaching exemption) of the U.S. Copyright Act. Educators in non-profit educational institutions may use the “face-to-face” teaching exemption to show videos without obtaining permission from the relevant copyright holders. Videos may only be shown to students enrolled in the class and the educator must be present while the video is being shown. Good rule of thumb: if you have a DVD, are showing a video that is publicly available (YouTube, Vimeo, etc.), or are using a campus-purchased streaming service (Kanopy, Swank, etc.) you should be safe to show your video in class.
Q: Can I show streaming video from Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, etc. in class?
A: No, except in rare cases. In watching or purchasing a video through any of the major personal streaming services you are entering into a contract that prohibits you from showing the video in a public forum. This contract trumps the provisions provided for in sections 107 (the “fair use” provision) and 110(1) (the “face-to-face” teaching exemption) of the U.S. Copyright Act. Much of the content on Netflix, Amazon Prime, etc. can be found in formats/licenses which allow for classroom showings, but some content on those streaming services simply can't be shown in class. Contact Schewe Library to get a sense of your options.
Q: What material can I post to Moodle?
A: Many things, including documents available through library databases/catalogs, files publicly available on the Internet, and of course any material you yourself have created. With that said, it is a best practice to post a link to a given document rather than uploading the document directly into Moodle. As an example, if there was a PDF file of an article you wanted your students to read, it would be best to post a link to the PDF rather than downloading the PDF and uploading it directly into Moodle. A good accounting of what is and isn't typically allowed on learning management systems can be found here.
Q: What material can I put on course reserve at the library?
A: Anything which the library has access to or which you legally own. For example, if the library had electronic access to a certain article or e-book, you could place that item on a course reserve. Likewise, if you personally owned a book or a physical copy of a journal you could place those items on a course reserve. Photocopies of material that you own are also eligible to be placed on a course reserve, provided those photocopies were made legally. Items that cannot be placed on a course reserve include interlibrary loan materials, materials that you are renting, or materials that you have obtained illegally (such as, for instance, through piracy or theft).
Q: Can I use copyrighted material in my teaching and research?
A: Yes, under a majority of circumstances. Section 107 (the “fair use” provision) of the U.S. Copyright Act allows for the "unlicensed use of copyright-protected works" for teaching, scholarship, and research. So, for example, if you wanted to include a certain song in a PowerPoint presentation you were using in class, that would likely be fine. Or, as another example, if you wanted to quote extensively from a copyrighted work as a part of your published research, that would also likely be OK. The "fair use" provision does have some important limitations, however, most of which are related to negative commercial effects a copyright holder might incur as a result of the unlicensed use of their work. Please consult with the Schewe Library if you have any concerns on this score.