Welcome to “EduTips”

Copyright protection exists from the time a work is created in a fixed tangible form of expression. It is important to know that mere ownership of a book, manuscript, painting, etc., does not give you the copyright to the work.


The Copyright Act generally applies to the creation, protection and use of literary, cinematic, pictorial and many other forms of creative materials.

The information listed here for educational purposes is to guide faculty and other users how to decide how to proceed with using content in an online course setting, what are the factors to consider and how to pursue copyright license permission when necessary.

Use of copyrighted materials may come up for you when creating and sharing course content through Blackboard and/or when creating and sharing content in your eWolf ePortfolio.

In teaching with and using copyright protected content the main factors to consider are:

  • Fair Use Review: Four-Factor
  • TEACH Act
  • Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA)

Fair Use: Four-Factors

According to the Copyright Law, 1976, the following four factors should be taken into consideration before deciding to use copyright protected material without obtaining permission from the copyright holder:

  • The purpose and character of use.
    (Why and How you intend to use the work)
  • The nature of the work.
    (Is this a textbook or substantive work in your content area?)
  • The amount and substantiality of the portion selected, in relation to the size of the work.
    (Are you using over 10% of the work, are you using the “heart” of the work?)
  • The effect of the use of the work on the market value of the work.
    (Will your use of the work negatively effect the owner of the copyright?)If any of these considerations cannot be answered clearly, you should probably ask for permission to use the work from the copyright, unless you use is covered under the TEACH Act (see below).

    United States Code, Title 17, Section 107


To post copyright protected material in an online course system for educational use the situation must meet the following TEACH Act criteria.

  • You must teach for an accredited, non-profit educational institution. (UAA qualifies)
  • The use must be a part of mediated instructional activities.
  • The use must be limited to a specific number of students enrolled in a specific class.
  • The use must be for a “live” or “asynchronous” class session.
  • The use must not include transmission of a textbook materials, these are materials “typically purchased or acquired by students, textbooks or course pack materials” Textbook materials no longer required or out of print can be used, only after three years of the required use.

If your situation fits the TEACH Act you can use copyrighted materials in a course at UAA

TEACH Act Policy (pdf) from Copyright Clearance Center

Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA)

To use digital media, defined as copyrighted and copy-protected materials like DVD, CD, and digital audio tracks, the DMCA allows for exceptions for nonprofit library archives, and non-profit educational institutions under the following conditions:

  • The faculty member or graduate students’ activities do not involve providing online access to course materials that were required or recommended during the past three years.
  • The institution has not received more than two notifications that a faculty member or a student was infringing, and
  • The institution provides all of its users with informational materials describing and promoting compliance with copyright law.

Full DMCA text

When in doubt when wanting to use materials you find that supplements your course content always review the copyright attached to the materials, and it never hurts to ask permission to use the content in your course or project.

Another option is to search for works using the Creative Commons Licensing. The Open Education Resources movement is going strong around the world, including at UAA.

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