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Responsible Use of Digital Media in the Classroom, D2L, and Distance Education QuickPoliy

Slippery Rock University supports the responsible use of media in the classroom, on Desire2Learn, and in distance education. This QuickPolicy includes the main points you need to know about the Copyright Law of the United States as it relates to educational media, including the provisions of the TEACH Act.

Disclaimer: SRU assumes no responsibility for violation of laws pertaining to use of media in the classroom, on the learning management system, and in distance education courses, and makes this good faith effort to inform you of your responsibilities in this regard. It is University policy to protect the rights of intellectual property creators and owners.

It is very easy to add media to any digital environment. You can copy digital images into your PowerPoint presentation, embed digital media in D2L, share links to YouTube videos on your web site and Facebook page, or design an online course that features digital information in multiple formats. Finding and copying useful media is easy.

BUT… there can be problems.

  • How do you know you are not violating somebody’s copyright?
  • What can happen to you if you do?
  • How do you stay out of trouble?

This QuickPolicy will give you the answers to these and other questions.

Part 1 - What is Copyright?

Part 2 - The Consequences of Violating the Law

Just because it is possible to include, for example, a portion of a television broadcast you copied off the air in your D2L shell does not mean that it is legal to do so. While technology and the internet make it easily possible to copy and disseminate digital media in a wide range of formats, violations also are easier to detect and to prove. If you are found to have possible copyright violations in your course materials both you and the University could be drawn into lengthy, time-consuming, and costly legal proceedings.  Sections 501 to 515 of the Copyright Law of the United States, under “Chapter 5: Copyright Infringement and Remedies” of the copyright law explain in detail.

Part 3 What is the responsible way to make sure you are following the law when you are planning to use digital materials in the classroom, on D2L, or in distance education?

The Bright Line: Although the Copyright Law of the United States does not specify how much of a particular work may be included in a classroom presentation or posted in a D2L shell, there are guidelines or rules of thumb that always fall within the range of acceptable educational use of copyrighted material.

Permissions: When it is possible to identify the publisher, disseminator, or owner of intellectual property you wish to use in class, it is easy to ask permission to do so.  Columbia University Libraries/Information Services offers clear guidance on seeking permission to use copyrighted material.

Find out what the law says: While the law does not specify how much of a particular protected work may be copied for educational use, the law does state under what conditions a work may be copied and how it may be used in an educational setting. Contact us at the links at the end of this article for more information about specific uses covered by the law, and for more information about applying the provisions of the TEACH Act.

Fair Use: The Copyright Law provides for a “Fair Use Exemption” from the law, depending on four factors relating to the proposed use. The four factors are: the purpose of the proposed use of the copyrighted material; the nature of the work in question; the amount of the work being used; and. the effect of the use on the market or potential market for the copyrighted work. See the following links for information about conducting a “Fair Use Analysis” of your proposed use of protected material. Contact us for assistance in conducting a Fair Use Analysis.

American Library Association website on Fair Use, compiled by Kenny Crews

TEACH Act or Fair Use? An analysis and checklists provided by the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education

Part 4 - What are examples of situations that faculty and students ask about?

Part 5 – Frequenty Asked Questions

Part 6 – Copyright Links

Only one thing is
impossible for God:
To find any sense in
any copyright law
on the planet.
~Mark Twain

Philip Tramdack
Director, Library Services
Copyright Compliance Officer