Syracuse University’s faculty, students, and staff produce, distribute and share a wide range of works. University members may want to use their own works, or others' works, while pursuing goals for research, teaching, instruction, or scholarship. For online faculty and instructors, and anyone who instructs online, understanding and adhering to copyright law is crucial to protect yourselves, the University, and your students. As educators, modeling appropriate and legal use of copyrighted materials is critical in helping students (and future educators) to better understand the complex issues surrounding copyright. SU Libraries offers guidance to faculty and instructors on how and when copyrighted materials can be used for instruction.
Legal disclaimer: All of the information contained here is educational. None of this guide’s information is, or should be considered to be, legal advice.
Syracuse University Libraries are committed to the faculty, students, and staff. If you have any copyright questions about materials or resources that you are using for instructional or research purposes, please email the SU Libraries copyright team at firstname.lastname@example.org.
TRUTH: Instructors working in nonprofit educational institutions can use fair use rights for instructional purposes.
MYTH: These rights apply to all types of materials online, for all purposes, and are absolute.
TRUTH: Copyrighted materials can only be used in particular circumstances and for particular uses that balance your rights as an educator with the copyright owner's rights. More information on fair use can be found on the second tab of this resource guide, titled "Fair Use."
MYTH: Instructors can share copyrighted materials online beyond what is legally permitted and no one is going to notice.
TRUTH: Instructors can share certain copyrighted materials that qualify under the Fair Use, the Teach Act, Open Access licensing, or because rights and permissions are received in one way or another. All circumstances are individual, and unique, and there are times when materials cannot be re-used or shared online legally.
With online instruction, there are no black-and-white rules governing fair use of copyrighted materials. It depends, and each situation is unique. The following best practices can help you in choosing and selecting materials to use for online courses.
allows instructors to share up to 10% of a resource for instructional purposes. For example, if you have a 300-page book and would like to share a 20-page chapter with your students, fair use would generally allow you to scan the chapter, share online with your students. Rule: 10% or 1 chapter, whichever first.
does not allow you to reuse materials semester after semester, but instead only for one instructional period (such as a semester). If you keep sharing a copyrighted resource with your students, it's likely that you're violating copyright. Fair use in this way applies to one semester. After that, you must get permissions from copyright holder, open-access, or a library license.