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ESC Copyright Information Website: Taking It Online For The First Time?

Copyright Issues When Converting Face To Face Studies to Online

Here are the copyright considerations when converting a previously in person course or study to online or hybrid delivery:

  • Fair Use is much more permissive in physical media (sheaf of papers, CD) than it is online. The reason for this is that copying and sharing online are quick and effortless. Very few things are considered Fair Use for online instruction.
    • Sharing a whole article or book chapter in an online course is not Fair Use.
    • In general, only radically transformative works will count as Fair Use in an online course.  
  • In person classrooms take advantage of the Educational Use exemption to display images or play recordings. Online, the parallel is the TEACH Act, which is just as permissive, but has many picky little requirements to keep track of.
    • The TEACH Act does cover entire non-fictional, non-dramatic images and recordings (audio and visual) and partial fictional/dramatic ones.
    • It does not cover any text material. 
    • The material you put in your course under the TEACH Act must be legally created and legally acquired, and must be cited and marked as copyrighted.
    • If you had physical media (such as a DVD) that you were using in person, you will only be allowed to digitize that to put online if there is not a "born-digital" version of it available to purchase or license.
  • When you are interacting with students in person, you can hand them your physical copy of a book or media, which is covered under the "law of first sale." Unless you do the same thing by mail, you will have to license the material or arrange for the student to purchase or license it themself. 
    • You can order a Selected Readings packet through the college's Bookstore.
    • You can work with your division to license content to embed in your course.
  • In person, minor copyright mistakes are rarely noticed. Online, there is much greater scrutiny. It is important to avoid being issued a DMCA Takedown Notice, which is a process by which the copyright owner compels our IT department to take down your course until allegedly infringing content is removed. 
    • You, personally, are liable for copyright infringement in courses that you create, but if you comply with DMCA takedowns, you won't face civil or criminal charges. However, multiple preventable DMCA takedown incidents may result in disciplinary action according to the provisions outlined in the Faculty Handbook.. 

Please consult the other tabs of this web site for more details, and when in doubt, you can always Ask A Librarian.

The library is acutely aware that some of these conditions and restrictions will necessitate changes to course content. Please also Ask A Librarian as early as possible for help finding appropriate alternative materials!