This page provides guidance on answering the copyright workflow questions posed on the Can I post this content? page:
Sometimes authors expressly provide permission for republication of their copyrighted materials through grants such as Creative Commons licenses. A Creative Commons license allows you to make certain specified uses of a copyrighted work without asking for prior permission; the license, itself, will identify the terms of what uses can be made, and what attributions must be provided.
In other instances, authors or copyright holders have granted permission for particular instructors to post or circulate copyrighted materials. If a copyright holder has provided you with written permission to post his or her work on your course site, you should retain the written conveyances for record-keeping purposes.
If you do not currently have permission from the rights holder but would like to obtain a license or permission, you can send the copyright holder a written request to post content. The University of Michigan has sample request letters on its Requesting Permission page. Commercial services like the Copyright Clearance Center can also assist with obtaining licenses for a fee, which may be helpful in instances in which it is difficult to determine who the rights holder is.
Just because material is online does not mean it is in the "public domain." Public domain refers to works for which copyright protections have expired, or that were ineligible for copyright protection from the start. Public domain works can be posted to course sites without permission or paying royalties.
To determine whether a work has entered the public domain due to expiration of copyright:
In addition, certain types of work are generally ineligible for U.S. copyright protection, as they are also considered to be in the public domain:
*Note, however, that while copyright law does not protect facts, an author's original compilation, arrangement, or selection of facts may be protected. In other words, factual compilations may be protected even where the facts, themselves, are not.
Fair use allows limited copying of copyrighted works without having to seek the author/owner's permission, when use is for purposes such as teaching, research, scholarship, reporting, criticism, or parody.
The instructor’s evaluation of fair use is on a case-by-case basis for each work to be posted, and rests on the following four factors. When considering these factors, keep in mind that the fair use exception is purposefully broad and flexible to promote academic freedom, expression, education, and debate.
The following questions can help you weigh the outcome of those four factors:
The UC's Copyright in the Classroom guide suggests that for posting to course sites, adhering to the following guidelines when posting lends toward a finding of fair use (though fair use is not guaranteed):
Want more help evaluating fair use? Use the American Library Association's Fair Use Evaluation Tool.
The TEACH Act of 2002 expanded certain statutory exemptions of copyright law to accommodate distance education. Much like the fair use exception (set forth in 17 USC § 107), the TEACH Act (codified in 17 USC §§ 110(2), et seq.) thus provides another means under which the copyrighted work, itself, rather than a link, can be uploaded to bCourses without first seeking the copyright holder's permission.
In many cases, 17 USC § 107 (fair use) may provide a broader exception under which to post desired course content than the TEACH Act. Nevertheless, it is important to understand what the TEACH Act can cover:
To rely on the TEACH Act to post the above materials, the following parameters must be satisfied:
For a more fulsome explanation of the numerous conditions and requirements fo complying with TEACH Act terms, visit:
For more assistance with answering the copyright workflow questions, the Library recommends: