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Copyright at OHSU

Guide to copyright basics, exemptions and use in teaching, scholarship and for students

Teaching and learning copyright resources


Educational uses are highly valued by United States Copyright Law. When certain conditions are met, specific types of use are permitted in physical and distance education settings.

In this section you will learn how to use copyrighted materials for instructional purposes.

Using materials in Sakai

Linking to full-text resources

The easiest and most copyright-friendly way to use copyrighted materials in Sakai is to create persistent links to electronic books and journal articles that have been licensed by the OHSU Library. Please see our guide on Linking to Full-Text resources for a variety of techniques for creating persistent links to electronic resources held in our collections.

Specifying Copyright status for uploaded files

When uploading files to Sakai, a copyright status may be specified. The table below outlines the available status options and their use.

Sakai Copyright Status Option


Material is in public domain.

Use this when you have determined that the work you are uploading is in the public domain. See the Copyright Exemptions section of this guide for more information about the public domain and how to determine whether a work is in it.

I hold copyright.

Use this for works you have created yourself and for which you have not transferred copyright ownership to a publisher.

Material is subject to fair use exception.

Use this when you are uploading copyrighted works that you have determined fall under the fair use exemption. Use a fair use checklist to weigh the four fair use factors and document your assessment. The checklist helps establish a good faith effort to follow Copyright law; consider uploading the completed checklist alongside the uploaded work.

I have obtained permission to use this material.

Use this when you have obtained permission to use works from the copyright holder, which may include published works for which you are the author, as publishing agreements often involve a transfer of copyright to the publisher. See the Copyright Fundamentals section of this guide for more information on who owns copyright.

Copyright status is not yet determined.

Use this when the copyright status of the work is unknown.

Use copyright below.

Use this status to write your own copyright statement.

Displays and performances in physical classrooms

To qualify for a classroom use exemption, the display or performance must:

  • Be in a classroom or similar location devoted to instruction
  • Use a legally obtained copy of the work
  • Be engaged in face-to-face teaching activities
  • Be at a nonprofit educational institution

These exemptions allow faculty to do the following for the purpose of instruction:

  • Show slides or other images
  • Show a film
  • Perform or listen to a piece of music
  • Perform or show a play

classroom                    play                     movie                   

Displays and performances in online courses

The TEACH Act addresses the needs of distance education and the performance or display of works in an online environment.

Activities conducted via online course management systems (such as Sakai) are covered under the TEACH Act whether they are synchronous or asynchronous. The TEACH Act contains specific guidelines regarding what requirements must be met and which materials are eligible for use. If your use does not meet these requirements, the TEACH Act cannot be cited to justify the use of copyrighted materials without permission.

TEACH Act requirements:

  • Performance/display of work must be part of mediated instructional activities and integral to course goals
  • Portion of work used must be equal to that which would be used in a physical classroom session
  • Access to the work must be limited to students enrolled in course
  • Students must be instructed that further distribution of the work violates copyright law
  • The work must not be available to or retained by students beyond class session
  • Copy of the work used must be legally made and obtained

The TEACH Act allows:

  • Performances of nondramatic literary and musical works (including the entire work)
  • Performances of any other work including dramatic and audiovisual works (e.g. film clips) but only in limited portions
  • Displays of any work consistent with those typically made in a live classroom setting (e.g. poems, essays, images of pictorial or graphic works, etc.)

The TEACH Act does not allow:

  • Use of works that are developed and marketed specifically for distance education, course management systems or online educational uses
  • Posting of full-text materials on course pages
  • Any use of a work that would substitute for students purchasing the work for their own study

Content adapted from:

Fair use in the classroom

If your use does not meet classroom use exemptions or TEACH Act qualifications, you should conduct a fair use analysis.

When making a fair use determination, the law requires four factors be considered. Each of these factors is given equal weight:

  1. The purpose and character of the use
  2. The nature of the copyrighted work
  3. The amount and substantiality of the portion used
  4. The effect upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work

Use a fair use checklist to weigh these factors and document your assessment.

What if my use doesn't qualify for any of these exemptions?

If none of the exemptions detailed above apply to your desired use of copyrighted material, you can seek permission from the rights holder.