Most countries in the world have their own copyright laws that they follow. CityU of Seattle, while a school with campuses in more than one country, follows the Copyright Law of the United States. This guide contains general guidelines only and should not be considered legal advice.
Copyright was created to help protect the rights of creators, including writers, artists, and publishers. These rights include being cited properly and receiving money for the product they have created. The CityU of Seattle Library works hard to curate and maintain journal subscriptions, databases, and eBook collections that provide access to items that can be legally used in the physical and digital classroom. As a best practice, faculty should link directly to these resources via their Reading List.
Some faculty may want to share items with their students that are not a part of the library collection and that do not have an open access or otherwise freely shareable license. For sharing these types of items, it is important that faculty understand US copyright law, especially correct application of Fair Use.
Fair use refers to the unlicensed use of copyrighted material for the purpose of teaching or scholarship (among other things). Several factors must first be considered when determining if an item can be used under the Fair Use doctrine. These factors include---
In legal procedure, the defendant bears the burden of proving that the copyrighted work was not infringed. Before using or sharing an item with students, please use an evaluation checklist (like the one linked below) to determine if the item qualifies for Fair Use. All factors must be considered and balanced in each individual case.
You should evaluate EVERY item that you have scanned for a single use. You can find an example evaluation checklist here:
Items that are already found within in the library collection do not need to be evaluated and can be freely shared with students via the Reading List (preferred) or an appropriate CityU link. See:
US copyright law can be difficult to apply to online classrooms and centralized curricula, both of which are used at CityU. While doctrines like Fair Use were written with in-person classrooms in mind, we’ve done our best to illustrate when and how to share items in your online classroom.
The short-term answer: Yes. For a single quarter you can scan and put something in your course’s Section Reading List in Leganto. Under copyright law, this is considered spontaneous use and you must first evaluate it for Fair Use eligibility.
The long-term answer: No. If the book chapter or article will be used for more than a single quarter, this would be considered systematic reproduction. In these instances, please coordinate with your program manager and a librarian to officially add the item to the course’s Master Reading List in Leganto. We will work on obtaining a copyright compliant version of the item if possible.
If you have any questions about copyright, fair use, or uploading resources to your course Reading List, please contact a librarian.
Images are used regularly by program managers, faculty, instructional designers, and subject matter experts when building online courses. But how do you obtain the appropriate permission to use copyrighted images?
Programs are responsible for clearing their own images for use in online courses. Below, you can find a quick guide on how to ask for permission to use an image.
Please Note: Copyright clearance can take as long as eight weeks. When planning and designing your courses, it is important that you give yourself ample time to clear the images you wish to use.
As an alternative to requesting permission for a copyrighted work, consider creating your own images or using free, open source or Creative Commons-licensed materials. You can also try creating AI-generated images, like those created through services like DALL-E. You can find a list of open source image repositories and search tools in our Open Educational Resources List.
You can also search for Creative Commons-licensed images using Google.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.