Skip to Main Content

Copyright: Copyright for Faculty

This guide provides a brief introduction to copyright.

The Basics of Copyright

Liberty University strives to be copyright compliant with the use of copyrighted resources for classes. This guide was created to assist professors in making informed decisions when using copyright resources. If you have further questions, please email for assistance.

Please review Copyright Basics tab for background information on copyright.

Copyright and Course Management

When using copyrighted materials in class, we recommend exploring your options in this order:

  1. Check to see if the material is available through the Jerry Falwell Library (JFL) or if it is an Open Access resource/Open Educational Resource (OER).
    • Live stream media or use a permalink, DOI, or other stable URL to direct students to legally acquired digital copies of resources rather than embedding the material in the course management system. This avoids copyright infringement and the need to seek permission from the copyright holder. Reach out to the Research & Instruction Department if  assistance is needed.
    • Place physical items that are owned or that the library owns on reserve for students to use for a restricted time frame.
  2. Check to see if the material is in the public domain. If so, use it freely.
  3. Check to see if the item has a Creative Commons license that allows the intended use of the material.
  4. Contact the liaison librarian to explore the possibility of the library acquiring the resource needed.
  5. Explore alternative resources that may meet the need.
  6. Determine if the use of the material meets one of the following copyright exceptions: (Scroll down for more details on each of these.)  
    • Face-to-Face Teaching Exception (residential)
    • TEACH Act (distance education)
    • Fair Use Exception (residential and distance education as well as scholarly publications and presentations)
  7. Seek permission to use the material if none of the previous approaches meet the need. 

Please note, always include a copyright notice on any works reproduced for class: Notice: This material is subject to the U.S. Copyright Law; further reproduction in violation of the law is prohibited.

Face-to-Face Teaching Exception (Residential Courses)

When teaching a residential course, use of copyrighted material may meet the requirements of the
Face-to-Face Teaching Exception. This exception cannot be used for distance teaching or within a course management system such as Blackboard or Canvas, please see the TEACH Act and Fair Use sections below for those courses. 

If all of the following requirements are met, the work can be used without seeking permission:

  1. Use a legally obtained copy of the work.
    • A legally obtained copy is defined as a copy that is purchased; borrowed from a library; borrowed from a colleague, family, or friend; or acquired lawfully for the users personal research (e.g., conference materials).
  2. Use the work in a nonprofit educational institution as part of teaching the course content.
  3. Display or perform the work during face-to-face teaching within a classroom setting or similar place used for instruction.
    • Please note that this only applies to displaying or performing the work during class. It does not permit copying or distributing to the class. Fair use may be an option used for copying items for the class. Review the Fair Use Checklist to see if it favors fair use.

If the use does not meet all of the above criteria, you can explore the Fair Use Exception below.


TEACH Act (Distance Education Courses)

When teaching an online course, the TEACH Act may apply to the situation. This act was passed by Congress to address copyright issues in the digital environment by expanding the rights of online educators to make them closer to face-to-face teaching.

Faculty members can use the TEACH Act Checklist to determine if their use of the copyrighted material meets the requirements for this exception.

Please note that all requirements on the checklist must be met to use this copyright exception. If all requirements are not met, the faculty member can explore the Fair Use Exception below to determine if it applies.

Fair Use Exception (Residential and Distance Education as well as Scholarly Presentations and Publication)

When publishing or presenting their own scholarly works, faculty should consider two aspects of copyright:

  1. The faculty member’s rights as the author/creator for the work being published/presented
  2. The use of others’ copyrighted material within the work

Faculty Member as Author/Creator

In general, whoever creates a work is the copyright holder. (An exception would be works made for hire.) Copyright is automatic, and it is not necessary to register for copyright or use the © symbol. If you are interested in registering for copyright, please review the registration portal

The copyright holder may grant permission to others who wish to use their work. They may also use a free Creative Commons license to allow others to use their work without asking for permission. A Creative Commons license allows the copyright holder to choose the terms by which others can use their works. All Creative Commons licenses require attribution to the author. 

Copyrighted Materials within Publications/Presentations

When a work that includes copyrighted materials such as images and other audiovisual materials, graphs, charts, testing instruments, etc. is published or otherwise made publicly available, there are additional copyright considerations. Faculty can review the Copyright Basics tab for additional information.

In addition to citing their sources in order to avoid plagiarism, faculty will need to do one of the following if their use of copyrighted material falls outside of the Fair Use Guidelines:

  1. Link to or otherwise reference the work without embedding it in their publication/presentation.
  2. Replace the material with something that is either in the public domain, has a Creative Commons license, or otherwise clearly gives permission for the intended use. 
  3. Seek permission from the copyright holder to use the material.

Good Practices

A few good practices for sharing content with a class.

  • Stream all audio and media files and link to articles whenever possible. 
  • Use Canvas to limit or restrict access to the resource. 
  • Include a copyright notice on any works reproduced for class.

Notice: This material is subject to the U.S. Copyright Law; further reproduction in violation of the law is prohibited.

  • Avoid "anthologizing" - Anthologizing is the creation of an ad-hoc, textbook-like compilation of chapters or monographs from existing sources, in or out of print. If it is choosen to anthologize, permission will need to be obtained from each work included in the compilation. 
  • Maintain a record of all permission requests and responses to show that the law has been followed.
  • If the use is determined fair, retain the Fair Use Checklist (below) analysis for each resource used as proof of due diligence.

More Detailed Information