Online teaching and learning falls under the broad category of "educational multimedia" as addressed by a Congressional subcommittee on intellectual property in 1996. The subcommittee’s report, called the Fair Use Guidelines for Educational Multimedia, is not law, but provides commonly accepted standards for educational institutions and the courts.
The Fair Use Guidelines for Educational Multimedia cover 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).
The Guidelines also recommend "that the technology prevents the making of copies of copyrighted material," meaning that every effort should be made to prevent the consumer of the content from making more copies. This is not possible to achieve via the Web. In the absence of technology that limits copying, the Guidelines say that the students should be told not to make copies, and, more importantly, that the material should only be available for 15 days. After that 15-day period, the material could be put on reserve for up to two years. After the two-year period, permission from the copyright holder would be required.
The copying and distribution limitations are most restrictive regarding remote instruction (distance learning). Distribution must be limited to students enrolled in the course and there must be "technological limitations on access to the network and educational multimedia project (such as password or PIN)."
In practical terms, to comply with the Fair Use Guidelines for Educational Multimedia when using a course management system such as Moodle or Blackboard, you could: