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Exceptions for face-to-face and online teaching

Sections 110(1) and 110(2) of the copyright code allow for use of copyrighted materials in the course of face-to-face and online teaching activities without obtaining permission.  See Duke University's page on what is and is not allowed under these exceptions.  Also, the education exemptions etool from the Copyright Advisory Network will help you determine whether your intended use is allowed under these sections of copyright code:

Classroom Handouts

Under the “fair use” provision in section 107 of the Copyright Act of 1976, classroom teachers may photocopy and distribute portions of copyrighted works for educational use without securing permission from the owner or paying royalties. Four factors used to help determine fair use are:

  • The purpose and character of use
  • The nature of the copyrighted work
  • The amount and substantiality of the portion taken, and
  • The effect of the use upon the potential market.

You may find the following guidelines (published in House Report 94-1476, pages 65-74) to be helpful.

Multiple copies (one copy per student in a course) for classroom use must meet the tests of brevity, spontaneity, and cumulative effect; and include a notice of copyright.

  • Brevity - see: p. 6 of the Guidelines
  • Spontaneity - see: p.6 of the Guidelines
  • Cumulative Effect - see: p.7 of the Guideline

Notwithstanding any of the above, the following shall be prohibited:

  • Copying may not be used to create or to replace or substitute for anthologies, compilations or collective works. A prohibited replacement or substitution occurs regardless of whether copies of various works or excerpts therefrom are accumulated or reproduced and used separately.
  • There shall be no copying of or from works intended to be "consumable" in the course of study or of teaching. These include workbooks, exercises, standardized tests and test booklets and answer sheets and like consumable material.
  • Copying may not:
    • substitute for the purchase of books, publishers' reprints or periodicals;
    • be directed by higher authority; or
    • be repeated with respect to the same item by the same teacher from term to term.
  • No charge may be made to the student beyond the actual cost of the photocopying.

Copying published music

Course Pack

In looking over issues related to copyright and course packs, there are two legal cases which appear to discourage reliance on the concept of Fair Use in compiling course packs.
If you wish to prepare a course pack:
Because securing the needed permissions can be tedious, a number of services exist to do it for you:


Showing videos and DVDs

In general, the use of an original DVD or video in a face-to-face classroom environment at a non-profit educational institution is permissible, however, the Consortium of College and University Media Centers developed a set of specific guidelines for the use of such materials.

Sound Recordings

In general, rules regarding music copyright deal mostly with the copying and public performance of musical works. The Fair Use Guidelines for Educational Multimedia from House Report 94-1476 may be helpful.


In general, the display of lawfully made copyrighted images in a face-to-face classroom environment at a non-profit educational institution is permissible; however, greater restrictions apply to the reproduction of copyrighted images. You may find the Wellesley College Copyright Site to be useful.

Creating Multimedia Works

The Fair Use Guidelines for Educational Multimedia covers educational material created by faculty as part of curriculum-based instruction, or by students as part of an assignment, whether face-to-face, self-directed study, or at a distance. The Guidelines also provide provisions for inclusion of copyrighted multimedia as part of conference presentations or professional portfolios. Limitations are based on time, portion, copying, and distribution.

According to these Guidelines, instructors should limit the use of the educational multimedia projects containing copyrighted material to a period of two years after the first instructional use. However, the limitations on copying may alter this time period.

Guidance for the amount of material that can be copied, performed, displayed (taken from the Fair Use Guidelines for Educational Multimedia).
  • Motion media (e.g., video): Up to 10% or 3 minutes, whichever is less.
  • Text material: Up to 10% or 1000 words, whichever is less
  • Music, Lyrics, Music Video: Up to 10%, but no more than 30 seconds.
  • Illustrations, Photographs No more than 5 images from an artist/photographer, or no more than 10% or 15 works from a published collective work.
  • Numerical Data Sets (e.g. databases): Up to 10% or 2500 fields, whichever is less.