Marymount California University Library

Faculty Services

Checking Copyright Permission

Here's a tutorial to check copyright permission using the Copyright Clearence Center.

Guide Disclaimer

This LibGuide on Copyright was developed, with modifications, based on Purdue's University Copyright Office guidelines.

Online Tools

General Exceptions to Copyright

Exceptions are generally granted for:

  1. Commentary or criticism
  2. Parody
  3. News reporting
  4. Education
  5. Research

Fair Use Guidelines

Section 107 of the copyright law (Title 17, U. S. Codecontains a list of the various purposes for which the reproduction of a particular work may be considered "fair use," such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research. There are four factors to be considered in determining whether or not a particular use of a work is fair, which are:

  1. The purpose and character of the use (ex. for commercial profit or nonprofit/educational purposes)
  2. The nature of the copyrighted work (ex. factual vs. creative works; published vs. unpublished)
  3. The amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole (ex. amount in pages, minutes, etc. and if portion is considered "significant" to the work)
  4. The effect upon potential market value upon using the copyrighted work (ex. if there will be no reduction in sales because of copying or distribution; offering limited/restricted access to the work vs. making the work freely available)

The distinction between what is fair use and what is copyright infringement will not always be clear or easily defined. There is no specific number of words, lines, or notes that may safely be taken without permission. Acknowledging the source of the copyrighted material does not substitute for obtaining permission.

Use of Copyrighted Materials for In-Class Instruction

In-class instruction is when the instructor and students are in a setting devoted to instruction, and teaching and learning takes place at the same time. In this setting, all performances and displays of a work are allowed so long as:

  1. All materials are legally acquired, and
  2. Teaching activities take place in a classroom or a similar place devoted to instruction.

If the use of a work falls outside of the classroom experience, the four factors of fair use (as stated above) should be applied. Permission is required when it is not fair use and educational exceptions do not apply. Materials used for in-class instruction include music, printed word, images, and videos.

View the following examples to understand how to legally use these works in a traditional classroom setting.


Music may be performed in the classroom provided it is for instructional and not entertainment purposes.

Example: A CD of an early work by the Beatles and a current piece by Paul McCartney may be played to demonstrate the differences in music styles over the years for a music appreciation class. Playing the CD for background music while students are taking an exam would not be permissible under this exception.

Printed Word

Printed materials are allowed to be displayed or performed in the classroom provided it is for instructional and not entertainment purposes. Under fair use, a copy of a journal article or a book chapter may be distributed in class. However, there are some restrictions.

Example 1: Distributing different chapters of the same book during each class session so that students will not have to purchase the book is not permissible.

Example 2: Copies of workbooks or standardized tests cannot be made and distributed. These are considered consumables and are meant to be purchased by each user.

Example 3: Compiling a coursepack to distribute to students is not allowed. Instructors must receive permission from copyright holders to compile a coursepack. There may be a fee associated with the permission.


All displays of still images may be shown in the classroom provided it is for instructional and not entertainment purposes.


  • Photographs
  • Maps
  • Charts
  • Graphs
  • Slides


Audiovisual materials may be shown in the classroom provided it is for instructional and not entertainment purposes. However, streaming videos from a personal online service, such as Netflix or Hulu, may not be permissible under the service's licensing agreement.

Example 1: An instructor may show portions of the movie Gone with the Wind to illustrate certain historical points for a history class. However, the instructor may not show the movie to the students as a reward for having a good semester.

Example 2: An instructor may not stream a video using a personal Netflix account. However, streaming from Films on Demand or other streaming services that are subscribed by Marymount California University may be permissible.

Use of Copyrighted Materials for Online Instruction

Online instruction is when a course is taught solely online or when components of in-class instruction are taught online with D2L or other course management systems. Online instruction includes remotely and digitally providing class materials to students. This transmission is authorized and protected under the TEACH (Technology, Education, and Copyright Harmonization) Act which is part of copyright law. TEACH allows comparable instruction from a traditional classroom to take place in an online class environment. Read more about the TEACH Act.

In order to use a work for online instruction and be protected under the TEACH Act (or the TEACH exception), requirements must be met for instructors, the technology used, and the course materials used.

Requirements for Instructors

  1. The performance or display of a work is an integral part of the online course.
  2. The performance or display of a work is directly related to the teaching content.
  3. The performance or display of a work is comparable to what takes place during traditional in-class instruction.
  4. The performance or display of a work is made by, at the direction of, or under the actual supervision of the instructor.
  5. The class is offered as a regular component of Marymount California University's curriculum.

Instructors should meet all of the above teaching requirements to qualify for the TEACH exception. If all the requirements are not met, then apply the four factors of fair use.

Requirements for Technology

In the use of D2L:

  1. Only students who are officially enrolled in the online course may have access to course materials.
  2. Course materials are available to students only for the duration of the course semester.
  3. Technological protections have been implemented to prevent students from retaining and further distributing course materials.

Instructors should meet all of the above technology requirements to qualify for the TEACH exception. If all the requirements are not met, then apply the four factors of fair use.

Requirements for Course Materials

The following materials may be digitally provided to students under the TEACH exception:

  1. Entire performances of nondramatic literary and musical works.
  2. Performances of limited and reasonable portions of dramatic literary and musical works, audiovisual works, and sound recordings.
  3. Displays of works but only in an amount comparable to what would be displayed in a live classroom setting. (Example: Images such as photographs and slides)
  4. Materials that can be considered supplementary and would not be used in a live classroom setting. (Example: Recommended readings)

The following materials may not be transmitted under the TEACH exception:

  1. Materials that are specifically marketed for educational use. (Example: Textbooks)
  2. Materials that are typically purchased by students for their research and classroom use. (Example: Textbooks, coursepacks)
  3. Illegal copies of materials.

Other Requirements for Materials:

  1. The materials must contain a notice stating that they may be subject to copyright protection.
  2. If there is no digital version available, then an analog version can be converted to digital but only in the amount that is needed.

If the instructor's use of course materials exceeds the above requirements, then the four factors of fair use should be applied.

Legal Disclaimer

The advice and information on copyrighted materials provided by the library is not intended to substitute for and is in no way legal advice.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License