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Copyright Resources at Connecticut College: Classroom & Campus Usage

This guide provides a general overview of copyright, and policies and procedures specific to Connecticut College.

Classroom & Campus Usage Overview

This page provides an overview of several key aspects of using copyrighted works in teaching, as well as various other uses around campus. See the box below left for more info about specific exceptions to copyright law that classroom teachers can utilize. For more on using images or film/video, see the respective boxes below. Because of its specificity and complexity, course reserves has its own page; click this link for more information on that topic. 

Teaching Exceptions

Section 110 of the U.S. Copyright Code states that it is not infringement of copyright for teachers or students to display or perform copyrighted works in the course of face-to-face teaching. In other words, as long as the display/performance is taking place within the confines of a face-to-face, regularly scheduled class, it is legal to display or perform all kinds of copyrighted works, including films, plays, musical works, literary works or art works.

As usual, a few caveats apply:

  • Again, the display/performance must take place in a classroom and be part of regularly scheduled teaching activities.
  • The displayed copies must have been lawfully made; the use of illegal "bootleg" copies would void this copyright exception.
  • The display/performance must be directly related to course content, and not simply "for fun."
  • The usage cannot violate the terms of a contract or license. 

While the original provisions of Section 110 only applied to physical, face-to-face settings, in 2002 Congress enacted the TEACH Act, which expanded the provisions to online or asynchronous environments. Usages allowed in these settings differ, so for more on the TEACH Act, check out the tab at right (labeled "Online").

For more resources on using copyrighted materials in classrooms, please see the tab at right (labeled "Resources").

For more on images or films/videos — particularly about those on-campus usages that do not involve classrooms, see the respective boxes at right.


The TEACH Act, which Congress enacted in 2002, rewrote some provisions of Section 110 to include allowances for online or asynchronous classroom environments. The law provides the ability for educators to use copyrighted works in distance/online education without infringement.

The provisions and caveats of the TEACH Act include the following:

  • This exception only applies to governmental bodies and nonprofit educational institutions (which Connecticut College is!).
  • These institutions must have policies regarding copyright (which we do!).
  • Access to copyrighted materials must be limited to students currently enrolled in a particular class.
  • The institution must provide technological controls on further dissemination of the material.
  • The usage must be directly part of mediated instructional activities.
  • Display of nondramatic literary and musical works in full is permitted.
  • Dramatic works are only permissible in "reasonable and limited portions" — typically defined as the amount comparable to that which would normally be displayed in a live classroom.

The TEACH Act explicitly forbids/excludes the following:

  • Unlawfully made copies.
  • The usage cannot violate the terms of a contract or license. 
  • Textbook transmissions, or materials that are typically purchased by students.
  • Works developed specifically for online users. 


Per Section 110 of the U.S. Copyright Code and the TEACH Act (see the box at left for more on these), you are permitted to display images in a live or online classroom without risk of copyright infringement, provided that the display is part of mediated instruction.

If the usage is not directly part of mediated instruction, you'll need to do a fair use evaluation to decide whether a particular usage is permissible. To help with this, see this guide's Fair Use page or the "Resources" section of this box, at right. 

Many images are published with licenses offered by an organization called Creative Commons, which provides a way for creators to offer their images to be used by others without payment or permission. You can search for such images here; be sure to check the specific terms of the license, and to comply with whatever restrictions might be offered.  

It's important to note that teaching exceptions do not apply to display of copyrighted images on posters or other campus advertisements, and so in order to use copyrighted images without permission, you'll need to do a fair use assessment. Be careful when doing so, and remember that a licensing mechanism for many images is often available, rendering a finding of fair use problematic in these cases.

One way to avoid the problem altogether is to search for images that are published with a Creative Commons license, which provides for their use without payment or permission. Just be sure to comply with the terms of the license.

Many pedagogical projects now might involve the uploading of images to a website; this might be a faculty page created for a class, or a page that students create for an assignment.

While the TEACH Act may apply to images transmitted to a password-protected course site (such as a Moodle site), images posted to the open web do not fall under a teaching exception. Therefore, you'll need to do a fair use assessment on any images that are posted to an open website. A few general guidelines to consider:

  • Images used for commentary (as opposed to decoration or mere display) are more likely to be considered to fall under fair use.
  • Wherever possible, it's better to use thumbnail or smaller images as opposed to full-scale images.
  • Be sure to use proper attribution for all images that have passed a fair use assessment.

It may be helpful to find images that are published with a Creative Commons license, which provides for their use without payment or permission. Just be sure to comply with the terms of the license.

For general policies related to Moodle/course reserves, see this page, which deals directly with that topic.

Searching for Usable Images:

Guidelines for Using Images:


For face-to-face classes: As with the display of images — or any other kind of copyrighted material — you are permitted to show films or videos to classes as long as the viewing takes place within regularly scheduled class time, and as long as the video being shown has been legally obtained. This is per Section 110 of the U.S. Copyright Code, as detailed in the box at far left.

For online or asyncronous classes: The TEACH Act permits full display of nondramatic video material, but dramatic works are only permissible in "reasonable and limited portions"  in such a course setting. If you wish to display a full film in an online/asynchronous class setting, you'll need to do a fair use analysis to decide whether the video can be shown without licensing or permission.

Films that are used via Kanopy can be screened in classrooms, and linked/clipped in Moodle.

You may also wish to work with the Digital Scholarship & Curriculum Center to create copyright-compliant digital clips.  

The licensing of other streaming services, such as Netflix or Amazon Prime, typically forbid the presentation of the material in a classroom setting. This license, once agreed to, would overrule the copyright protections of Section 110 or the TEACH Act. You'll need to check the terms of your specific license for more.

For more info on teaching exceptions, see the box at the far left. 

Campus screenings that are outside of direct, mediated instruction do not come under the purview of Section 110 or the TEACH Act! As such, you need to do one (or more) of the following things if you are planning to show a film on campus:

  1. Do a fair use analysis. Be warned, though: the fact that the setting is "nonprofit" does not by itself qualify a screening for fair use protection, particularly if licensing or permission for the film is available.
  2. Ascertain or obtain public performance rights. This is often available for a higher price when a DVD is purchased, especially for documentary films. Further, upgrades are frequently available. Contact your library liaison to check if the library has purchased PPR to a film, or whether an upgrade is possible.  
  3. Ask permission from the content provider. If PPR isn't available, you'll need to go directly to a content provider for permission or licensing of a screening. A lot of licensing of TV and movies is done through a company called Swank. If a Swank license isn't available, you might try purchasing a license through the Motion Picture Licensing Corp., which provides permission to screen films (for a fee). For more information on obtaining permission, check this guide's "Copyright Essentials" page, and look at the box labeled "Key Questions & Answers About Copyright"; there's a specific question about how to ask permission.  

Some films that are streamed via Kanopy can be screened on campus, as long as no admission is charged and the screening is not for commercial benefit. However, such rights are only available on a case-by-case basis. Contact the library's acquisitions supervisor, who can ascertain what rights are available.

It is typically a breach of license to stream advertised, group viewings of films through Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime or other similar streaming providers. 

As with images, sometimes pedagogical projects might involve uploading video clips to the open web. If such clips fall under copyright protection, you will likely need to do a fair use assessment to decide whether the clips can be used without permission. This is because the publishing of video clips would not fall under Section 110 or TEACH Act copyright exceptions.

The guidance on this usage is very similar to the guidance one would follow for images:

  • Clips used should have been legally created. If unsure of the provenance, it's best not to use them unless permission has been secured.
  • Per fair use guidelines, clips used should be short. Also, it's best (as with images) if the clip is used alongside commentary rather than having a decorative or display purpose. 
  • Make sure to provide full attribution for any clips.

You can search for YouTube videos that have been published with a Creative Commons license; this license may allow you to republish them. Just choose "YouTube" as the website to search. Make sure to comply with any terms of the license that you find. You can browse Creative Commons videos on Vimeo, another popular video provider, here

For general policies related to Moodle/course reserves, see this page, which deals directly with that topic.