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Resources for Teaching Hybrid Courses

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This guide is meant to support instructors in a variety of disciplines to deliver dynamic teaching materials and enhance the curriculum and student learning by directing them to freely available open educational resources, media, tools, apps and other content, as well as providing guidance to instructors on intellectual property concerns in the online teaching environment.  General resources on this page are likely to be of some use to teaching in most colleges and programs.  For more specific resources, navigate to the colleges in the left-hand column, then browse by department.  Search the entire guide for specific content.  Please contact the guide owners to suggest additional content.  See how we selected our resources.

General Resources for all Disciplines

Open Educational Resources (OERs)

Open Books, Open Media, Open Textbooks and other teaching materials

Meta sites, source lists and guides

Teaching Support Resources, Guidance, Training and Tools

Copyright in the Classroom

What types of work are copyright-protected?

In the United States, any work of original authorship (a work created with a modicum of originality) which is fixed in a tangible form of expression is automatically copyrighted!  Registration with the U.S. Copyright Office is not required (though it optionally offers certain additional protections).

What is a tangible form of expression?  

Any medium that can last over time, if created lawfully.  For example, a printed book, a diary, a notebook, a sound recording, a digital image, a photograph, a recorded lecture.  (e.g., not a live speech, a streamed (but not recorded) lecture, )  See a discussion here.

Examples of copyrighted works include:

• Literary works

• Musical works, including any accompanying words

• Dramatic works, including any accompanying music

• Pantomimes and choreographic works

• Pictorial, graphic, and sculptural works

• Motion pictures and other audiovisual works

• Sound recordings, which are works that result from the fixation of a series of musical, spoken, or other sounds

• Architectural works   See U.S. Copyright Office's Copyright Basics, Circular 1 for details.

What types of work are free from copyright protection or not copyrightable?

  • Works whose copyright has expired
  • Works placed in the public domain by their creators
  • Works of the U.S. federal government
  • Names, titles, short phrases, slogans, expressions, works that lack sufficient creativity (lists, abbreviations, common symbols, fonts)
  • "Any idea, procedure, process, system, method of operation, concept, principle, or discovery, regardless of the form in which it is described, explained, illustrated, or embodied."  See U.S. Copyright Office's Works Not Protected by Copyright, Circular 33

Copyright law expressly excludes copyright protection for “any idea, procedure, process, system, method of operation, concept, principle, or discovery, regardless of the form in which it is described, explained, illustrated, or embodied.”

How long does copyright protection last?

That varies. It depends on when the work was created and whether the copyright was renewed.  See the handy Copyright Slider (requires Adobe Flash).

What are the exclusive rights of copyright holders?

  • The right to reproduce the work
  • The right to distribute the work
  • The right to perform the work
  • The right to display the work
  • The right to create derivatives from the work
  • The right to digitally transmit the work publicly (in the case of sound recordings)

Main provisions for limitations on exclusive rights in U.S. Copyright Law of interest to educators

17 U.S. Code § 107

17 U.S. Code § 108 (Libraries)

17 U.S. Code § 110

Traditionally, face-to-face classroom spaces have been legally exempt (17 U.S. Code § 110) from many* of the "exclusive rights" restrictions of copyright law.  This means that instructors may display or perform copyrighted works without prior permission or without invoking fair use.  The educational institution must be non-profit, the work used must be directly related to the instruction and limited to students enrolled in the course, and the work must have been lawfully made and acquired.  These are powerful rights that translate largely to the remote environment.

* exemption does not include making copies without permission, or creating a derivative work from the original work.  However, the U.S. Copyright Office's Circular 21 (popularly known as the "Classroom Guidelines" ) called for allowing photocopying for the class in limited circumstances if the conditions of "brevity" and "spontaneity" are met. These are merely guidelines, however, and are not legally binding, but they may offer insight into the original intent of Congress in envisioning the fair use doctrine.  And they do NOT apply to coursepacks.

Note that interlibrary loan articles also fall into this category of non-exempt materials; they are meant for individual study, scholarship or research only. No copying or distribution.


The TEACH Act (codified in 17 U.S. Code § 110 (2)) was enacted in 2002 primarily to balance the rights of copyright holders with the new and emerging needs of learners and educators in an online environment.

In short, it provides more latitude for educators in an online environment to provide copyrighted educational materials, provided certain criteria are met:

  • the educational institution must be accredited, non-profit
  • the use must be part of mediated instruction
  • the use must be limited to a specific number of students in a specific class
  • the use must be for live or asynchronous class sessions


  • the use cannot include textbooks or materials typically purchased by students, or works developed specifically for online use
  • the institution must have developed copyright policies and publicized them to students and include notice of copyright on online materials
  • the institution must implement technological measures beyond simple password control to ensure compliance with copyright policies

The provisions of the TEACH Act do not extend to course reserves, coursepacks, document delivery, interlibrary loan materials or licensed textbooks, and generally do not extend to conversion of materials from analog to digital except under strictly authorized uses or under extraordinary circumstances.

Download a more detailed 2-page summary of the TEACH Act from the Copyright Clearance Center.

Fair use is a provision within U.S. copyright law (17 U.S. Code § 107) meant to promote freedom of expression and uphold the main purpose of copyright by providing latitude for the use of a rights-protected works under certain limited circumstances and "purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use)."  These are typical teaching scenarios.  However, before proceeding with use of a copyrighted work,

It is generally advised to 1) search for the copyright status of the work; 2) locate the rights-holder, and 3) seek permission before resorting to a fair use claim.  Note that the licensing of content will nearly always trump any fair use claim of that content.  So: be certain that the work you are seeking to use does not fall under a license agreement.  See the next tab on seeking permission.

Notwithstanding these caveats and restrictions, fair use is a legitimate avenue to take in most teaching situations.

Four quick questions to help you determine whether it's OK to use a copyrighted work without permission:

  • PURPOSE of the use:  Do you intend to use the work primarily to teach, research, parody, critique or report?  Y weighs in favor of fair use
  • NATURE of the work used:  Is it of an educational or news nature?  (rather than a creative work)  Y weighs in favor of fair use
  • AMOUNT used:  Do you intend to use only a small, non-core, insignificant portion of the work?  Y weighs in favor of fair use
  • EFFECT of the use:  Will your use not affect the work's market or potential commercial viability (if any)?  Is your dissemination of the work minor in scope?  Is the licensing or permission to use unduly burdensome or is it simple to obtain?  Did you try to get permission?  If permission is not obtained or is not clear, did you attribute credit?  Y weighs in favor of fair use

It is important to remember that these factors are meant to be weighed against each other and no one factor, if met, is absolutely reliable as a determinant of free and clear fair use.  Neither is it absolute that meeting all 4 factors automatically guarantees a fair use case.  Nor is it absolutely true that meeting only 1 factor will automatically weigh the whole case against fair use.

See IUPUI's Fair Use Checklist for further guidance.

If you feel you do not have a clear-cut fair use case in the classroom, how do you go about seeking permission to use a work?

1. Determine the copyright status of a work (see where to search for copyright status)

2. Contact the copyright owner

3. State your request in as detailed a manner as possible

See U.S. Copyright Office Circular 22, "How to Investigate the Copyright Status of a Work," and U.S. Copyright Office circular, "How to Obtain Permission" for further details.

The Copyright Crash Course library guide also has a great page on locating rights owners and seeking permission.

Learn where you may need permission to share copyrighted content.  To name a few: class handouts, electronic reserves, internet posts, print and electronic coursepacks, web content.  And regarding fair use, "Even if it's for educational purposes, no particular use automatically qualifies as fair use."  Learn more in this short video from the Copyright Clearance Center.

More takeaways from this video:

  • owning a book or DVD does not equate to owning rights to that work 
  • attribution is not a substitute for getting copyright permission (see additional video here)
  • access to a work does not equate to rights to share that work
  • password protecting shared online content does not replace the need for getting copyright permission
  • most authors do not own the copyright to their own published works

More from the Copyright Clearance Center:

Resource Selection Criteria

Website and resource selections made to this library guide were based on the following criteria:

  • ‚Äčaccessibility
  • authority
  • currency
  • performance
  • permanence
  • relevance
  • reliability
  • transdisciplinary applicability

Generally not included in this guide:

  • subscription resources (see the University Libraries home page to access)
  • scholarly or research resources (such as disciplinary or open access journal repositories)
  • commercial web sites, commerical product demos, or limited trial resources