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Copyright & Fair Use Guide for Faculty

Guidance on what fair use is, how it works, and how to apply it when using materials in your class

Fair Use Factors

To establish the strongest basis for fair use, consider and apply each and every one of these four factors:

  1. Purpose of the Use

  2. Nature of the Work

  3. Amount of the Work

  4. Effect of the Use on the Market for the Original


Fair Use Factor #1: Purpose of the Use

  • Materials should be placed or posted on Brightspace only for the purpose of serving the needs of specified educational programs.
  • Materials should be placed or posted on Brightspace only at the specific request of the instructor.
  • Access to materials should be limited by password or other means to deter unauthorized access beyond students enrolled in the specific course for which the materials are needed.
  • Students should not be charged a fee specifically or directly for access to materials placed on Brightspace, and no person or unit at the university should benefit monetarily from the use of the material.

Fair Use Factor #2: Nature of the Work

  • Only those portions of the work relevant to the educational objectives of the course should be placed on Brightspace.
  • The law of fair use applies more narrowly to highly creative works; accordingly, avoid substantial excerpts from novels, short stories, poetry, modern art images, and other such materials.
  • Instructors should carefully review uses of "consumable" materials, such as test forms and workbook pages that are meant to be used and repurchased.

Fair Use Factor #3: Amount of the Work

  • Materials placed or posted on Brightspace will generally be limited to brief works or brief excerpts from longer works. Examples: a single chapter from a book, a single article from a journal, and individual news articles.
  • The amount of the work placed on should be related directly to the educational objectives of the course.

Fair Use Factor #4: Effect of the Use on the Market for the Original

  • Try to avoid repeat use of the same materials by the same instructor for the same course.
  • Materials posted on Brightspace should include a citation to the original source of publication and a form of a copyright notice.
  • The instructor should also advise students that the materials are made available exclusively for use by students enrolled in the course and must not be distributed beyond that limited group.
  • Access to materials should be limited by password or other means to deter unauthorized access beyond students enrolled in the specific course for which the specific materials are needed.
  • Brightspace should not include any material unless the instructor, the library, or another unit of the educational institution possesses a lawfully obtained copy.
  • Materials on Brightspace should not include works that are reasonably available and affordable for students to purchase—whether as a textbook, coursepack, or other format.