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Copyright & Fair Use

The TEACH (Technology, Education and Copyright Harmonization) Act, sections 110(2) and 112 of the U.S. Copyright Law, govern the use of copyrighted materials for educational institutions such as the University of Kentucky. The University of Kentucky has established a comprehensive resource, the Copyright Resource Center, to provide faculty with the information and resources needed to understand the laws and apply them to the use of copyrighted materials within courses, including content housed within a content/learning management system (CMS/LMS).

Four types of considerations are used to judge fairness (fair use):

  1. Purpose and character of the use, e.g. teaching at an educational institution
  2. Nature of the copyrighted work (fact-based, published, or out-of-print)
  3. Amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the whole work
  4. Economic effect on the potential market or value of the work

Best practices for use of copyrighted works:

  1. Commenting on or critiquing of copyrighted material; the new use is not a substitute for the original work
  2. Using copyrighted material for illustration or example; illustration is taken from a range of sources, each no longer than necessary
  3. Capturing copyrighted material incidentally or accidentally, not requested or directed, but integral to the scene or action; material does not call attention to itself as the primary focus
  4. Reproducing, reposting, or quoting in order to memorialize, preserve, or rescue an experience, an event, or a cultural phenomenon; use does not negatively effect the market for the original work and work is reproduced in amounts disproportionate to purposes of documentation and/or material is readily available from authorized sources
  5. Copying, reposting, and recirculating a work or part of a work for purposes of launching a discussion; the purpose/intent is clear
  6. Quoting in order to recombine elements to make a new work that depends on relationships between the elements for meaning (e.g. mashups, remixes); the new work is of significant change in context or meaning, does not exploit the popularity or appeal of the copyrighted work, or the amount incorporated is not excessive

Additional practices:

  • The role of the instructor and the instructor’s control over the copyrighted materials are clearly defined
  • Materials used are relevant to the course
  • Material is used for a different purpose than the original work and does not repeat the same intent and value as the original

A few rules of thumb:

  • Know the law
  • Link when possible
  • Search for public domain/open resource works
  • Check with the library before you pay for rights
  • Act reasonably and in good faith; provide credit or attribution where possible
  • Apply the “golden rule;” if you were the copyright owner, would you see the use as fair or not, if used without your permission

For more information:

University of Kentucky Copyright Resource Center -

Resources for Teaching Faculty: Know Your Rights -

Copyright Law of the United States -