Level 3

Other Scenarios

The fair use and classroom use exemption laws can be used to make decisions on the use of copyrighted materials in the classroom. There are a few unique situations where it would be helpful to know even more information. Check out the scenarios below.

Scenario: I teach online or have an online portion of my class. Do I need to do anything different?

The TEACH Act (Technology, Education, and Copyright Harmonization Act, 2002)(Section 110(2) allows educators to perform or display copyrighted works in distance education environments. If you would like to show a video or display an image during your online class, you may want to consider whether that use is allowable under the TEACH Act.

Benefits of the TEACH Act

  • Performances and displays of nearly all types of copyrighted works
  • Transmission of digital materials to students at distant education locations
  • Storage of copyrighted content for brief periods of time, such as that which occurs in the process of transmitting digital content
  • Creating digital versions of print or analog works

Implementing TEACH can be difficult because of its complexity and the many detailed requirements for instructors, technologists, and institutions. As opportunities for applying the TEACH Act are limited in scope, keep in mind that you may also consider to fair use when using copyrighted works online and in distance education settings.


Scenario: I want to use OERs for my curriculum. Where do I start?

OER are openly-licensed, freely available educational resources that can be modified and redistributed by users.

  • Openly-licensed: Open licenses like Creative Commons licenses are often used to communicate what a user can do with a resource, and what rights its author would like to retain.
  • Freely Available: The resources must be freely available online with no fee to access. A true OER is free to access at all times, unless the resource is printed and must be bought for the price of materials (usually no more than $50).
  • Modifiable: The resource must be editable. This means that it must be licensed under an open license that allows for repurposing and remixing.

OERs are great for educators! They are free or low cost for teachers and students and can be modified to meet the specific needs of your classroom. Use the links on the right to search for high quality resources.

Video: This short video reviews OERs and why they are so important.

Scenario: I posted a video on a social media site and was asked to take it down. Now what?

As part of DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998, Congress granted online service providers (like YouTube) certain protections from copyright infringement liability, so long as they meet certain requirements. One requirement of this “DMCA safe harbor” is that online service providers must implement a “notice-and-takedown” system. Another requirement is that YouTube must cancel the accounts of “repeat infringers.”

if your video was removed by the Content ID tool, and you decide to dispute the removal, you will have tweaked the rightsholder’s tail. Sometimes the rightsholder will decide that your video wasn’t the kind of thing it meant to remove, and just leave the video alone. If, on the other hand, the rightsholder really wants the video to stay down, the easiest and cheapest way to accomplish that is to send a DMCA takedown notice.

Because disputing a DCMA takedown can have potentially serious legal consequences, you should exercise care in deciding what to do.

The first issue you might consider is whether the claim might be correct. Does your video use copyrighted material? Do you have a right to use that material?  There are many circumstances where copyright law allows you to borrow from pre-existing works owned by others.

One excellent example of a take down notice sent in error was the case of professor Lawrence Lessig from Harvard University. He posted a lecture on Youtube that included commentary on the remix of popular songs, and he included the song clips. The record company eventually agreed that it was fair use and created new copyright policies that reflect fair use.

Video: These two video provide two different perspectives on YouTube’s copyright school.

Scenario: I want to teach my students about fair use. Where do I start?

Below are a few resources that provide lesson plans, case studies, and tips for teaching fair use.

Video: Watch this video to see how a middle school teacher introduces fair use to her students

Scenario: I want to learn more. What’s next?

Although we are done learning about fair use in this module, that doesn’t mean there isn’t more to learn!

Video: Watch the compelling trailer for the Copyright Criminals movie.



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Copyright and Fair Use for Teachers Copyright © 2019 by Larysa Nadolny is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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