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Copyright Resource Guide

A guide intended to provide information and guidance related to copyright for the FCC Community.

Using Copyrighted Materials on Blackboard

The number one recommendation for using copyrighted material on Blackboard is to link out. Linking to material that is copyrighted, as long as that material is legally posted, is OK, no matter the type. When in doubt, just link out!

Below you'll find even more specific guidelines regarding the dos and don'ts of using materials on Blackboard, particularly if you are uploading copies or scanning materials instead of linking out.

Item Do Don't
Website (containing copyrighted material) Link to the Website in Blackboard. Copy and paste the content of the website into Blackboard.
Material (book, article, film, etc.) from a Library Database Link directly to that material in the Database.  Copy and paste, or upload, the content from the database into Blackboard.
Film or Movie on a DVD or from a commercial streaming platform

Link to a legal version of the movie from a library database or free platform

Request students use or purchase their own accounts to rent or stream films from commercial platforms.

Use clips or portions of a movie legally available on web platforms like Fandango or YouTube.

Break encryption to digitize a DVD.

Stream an entire film live from a commercial streaming platform or DVD.

 

Image from the Web Link to the image. If uploading the image, posting for one semester. Repeatedly use an uploaded image semester after semester.
Complete Prose Work Link to the work if it is a copy that is legally available or upload the work if it is under 2,500 words, and for only one semester. Repeatedly use the uploaded work over multiple semesters or post a work over 2,500 words.
Scanned Portion of a Prose Work Upload for one semester, and only use a portion (usually around 10%) of the work.  Repeatedly use the scanned work over multiple semesters or use more than 10% of the work.
Scanned Article from a Journal, Trade Publication, Newspaper, or Magazine. Upload a single article for one semester. Use multiple articles form the same publication or repeated use over multiple semesters.

(Adapted from Montgomery College, who adapted from GWU Libraries, with edits)

What is the TEACH Act?

The TEACH Act was created to provide additional guidance and more protection for instructors presenting materials in online environments. Ultimately what it does is try to better align what is permitted in an online classroom with what is permitted in a physical classroom.

However, there are still way more restrictions that must be in place for the presentation of online classroom materials. For example, dramatic films and music in a physical classroom can be performed without restriction or permission, but in the online classroom, only "reasonable and limited" portions may be used. 

As the Copyright Crash Course discusses, "this disparity, coupled with the considerable number of additional limits and conditions [over 22] imposed by the statute, has lead some educators to conclude that it's more trouble than it's worth to rely on," and instead it is much easier to use Fair Use evaluations and/or Licensed Content when putting copyrighted materials in online courses.

So what should you do? FCC recommends that you follow the Using Copyrighted Material on Blackboard guidelines listed above. If you are interested in using materials that may go beyond fair use, but might fall into the conditions set by the TEACH Act, check out the checklist linked below, and contact the Copyright Compliance Officer for guidance. 

Learn More About the TEACH Act

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