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Copyright 101: Copyright Introduction

Information on Copyright laws and Fair Use guideliines

Copyright as we deal with COVID19 / Teaching Online

The Fair Use Doctrine is made to support teaching, research, and learning. 

Please balance these four factors when deciding if you need to include that movie, article, book in your Canvas classroom.

Factor 1: What is the purpose and character of the use. 

  • Teachers have this one.  We are using these materials to teach, a benefit of the public. 

Factor 2: Is the work factual or creative?  It doesn't matter if the item is published.  Here's where you can get in trouble:

Factor 3: How much of the work are you using? 

Ask yourself:

  • Can a clip from the film work to teach my point, is there a need to use the whole film?
  • Do I need the whole book or will a page or chapter teach to my point?
  • You've found a cute visual to add to your page?  Can you use it?

At Shoreline we have access to many articles from  major newspapers, journals, or documentaries.  Be sure to check our databases for access.  Doing this will alleviate issues on copyright.  You can link to or disseminate works from our databases to our students without worry. That cute visual would be a problem.  You can use Google to search for pictures and other visuals that will allow use in your Canvas classroom.  Tip?  Talk to your librarians.  We can show you how to get Google to work with you to find fair use visuals and help you find accessible articles in your discipline for our students. We will also work with you to find highly accessible articles, book chapters and more in our licensed databases like Ebsco, Jstor, and Proquest.

4th Factor: How will your use of the item effect it's market value.  AT THIS TIME the American Library Association and others indicate that there is much flexibility on this factor.  They urge, as do we that you rely on our licensed access points (Proquest, Jstor, Ebsco, etc.).  You are free to thoughtfully include items that we would have requested copyright clearance if we were not dealing with COVID19.

The how to's:

Be aware, this guidance on copyright is only for dealing with THIS emergency.

Allow access to the students in your Canvas classroom.

Cite the work using your disciplines' style. 

Ask students to destroy any copies of the item as soon as possible after June 19th, 2020 (the last day of Spring Quarter).  Include this ask with any information you give about the item.

Remember you have access to ~400,000 ebooks, numerous and growing newspaper, research, peer reviewed articles through the library.  We can connect you to film and documentaries.  Talk to your Shoreline Community College Librarian.  Please contact Leslie Potter-Henderson for more information about library services or questions about copyright.  The Fair Use doctrine was created to bring balance and fairness on the use of materials so that creators would not be negatively impacted.  The COVID19 emergency is forcing drastic changes in how we do our work.  The doctrine is helping us to keep responsive. 


More information:

ASERL. Public Statement: Faire Use & Emergency Remote Teaching & Research.  March 13, 2020.


Copyright Basics

The SCC library has developed a series of guidelines regarding copyright issues pertaining to educational materials. Read on to learn more about maintaining compliance with the laws and regulations that govern intellectual property rights. Please be aware that copyright rules change very frequently and that information in the copyright guide is not to be used as legal advice.  

Common Questions

What is Copyright?

Copyright is a form of protection grounded in the U.S. Constitution and granted by law for original works of authorship fixed in a tangible medium of expression. Copyright covers both published and unpublished works.

What does copyright protect?

Copyright, a form of intellectual property law, protects original works of authorship including literary, dramatic, musical, and artistic works, such as poetry, novels, movies, songs, computer software, and architecture. Copyright does not protect facts, ideas, systems, or methods of operation, although it may protect the way these things are expressed.

Why is copyright important?

Because one's intellectual property is protected, it is a violation of the law to use someone else's work (be a painting, a poem, a song) for their personal gain, financially or not. It can also come with legal consequences.

Can I use someone else's work?

Yes, but you need to get permission. One way of getting permission is to ask the owner of the copyrighted work. Refer to refer to Circular 16A: How to Obtain Permission.

But I'm a student/educator and I need to use this copyright work for a class/lesson/assignment and I don't have time nor do I know how to track the owner. What do I do?

Great question! On this guide, there are various tabs that will explain how you can obtain copyright and use another person's work without violating copyright law. Please read on!

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