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Copyright and Fair Use : Teaching with Copyrighted Works

Learn about copyright and fair use.

Can I Use this Article for Teaching?

Copyright or Public Domain?

The first consideration when using a work is whether the work is copyrighted. If the work is not copyrighted, it is in the Public Domain and is freely available for all use. To see if the work is in the Public Domain, try using this tool: Public Domain Slider. If the work is copyrighted, use the decision chart and information below to assess your use of the content.

Materials the Library has Access to

Links to Bell Library's licensed e-resources can be added to course shells in BlackBoard.

  • Some databases such as EBSCO, ProQuest, Kanopy and Films on Demand provide "permalinks" or "Share" options which include a link. To find these links, locate the item in the database and look for the permanent link or share feature. This link can be placed in BlackBoard and is the preferred method of linking.
  • The Library's QuickSearch, which is accessed using the search box on the library's home page, can also provide a permanent URL to an item. Using this link can take multiple clicks to get to the item, however, which is why it is preferable to link directly from the database which houses the item, not from QuickSearch.
  • For items in databases that do not offer a permalink feature, examine the URL of the webpage for the item. If it includes, then this URL will work as a permanent link. Here is an example:
  • If the URL does not include, you can add a prefix to the front of the URL in order to link to it from BlackBoard. This URL is an example:

Below are two links you may find helpful in locating library resources to add to your classes.

Check Academic License with RightFind

If the copyrighted content you wish to use is not available in the library's collections, the work may be covered under the University's annual Academic License through Copyright Clearance Center. You can go to RightFind (see link below) to determine whether or not you can use the copyrighted content without having to ask for permission from the rights holder.

If you are off campus you will be prompted to set up an account.  When setting up your account make sure to use your TAMU-CC email address: ''.

Once at the search page simply enter the title of the book or journal in the search box and select search.


Image shows the Rightfind Search Box


  • When selecting the best matches from the results list check to make sure the item types match (ex: book, journal). 
    • If you are looking for a journal and find a book with the matching title do not assume they are the same item.   
  • It is important to also verify the ISBN numbers and/or the publication year. 
  • In some journals some years of publication will be covered while others are not. 

Once the best match has been selected, verify how you can use the item under the “How can I use this copyrighted content?” section.


This image shows the Results page


You can click "View more uses" to get more information on how each item is specifically allowed to be used.

Image shows the "view more uses" link


Read the terms that apply to how you can use an item before posting to stay in compliance with copyright.


This image shows the Rights Summary screen and indicates the "terms apply" links.


An item not covered by the academic license will appear with the red prohibition sign, as seen below:


This image shows what the screen looks like when a journal is not covered

Copyrighted works in the classroom

This section of the Copyright and Fair Use guide, discusses using Copyrighted works in the classroom. This includes course materials such as course reserves, showing films in class, and alternatives to traditional copyrighted works to use in the classroom. 

In this digital age, copyright and fair use have become increasingly complex. In truth, the copyright law has not kept pace with the incredible advancements in technology that take place at an increasingly rapid rate.

The library participates in the Office of Distance Education & Learning Technologies’ Certification Series offered on an ongoing basis to faculty preparing to teach online. The library gives a presentation on copyright in the educational setting. The PowerPoint from that presentation can be found on this Guide, and in the ODELT’s iTeach Online Blackboard course.

The university has an annual license with the Copyright Clearance Center. Faculty can visit its RightFind to see if materials not already subscribed to by Bell Library can be used without the faculty member having to ask for permission.

The Library regularly gives copyright presentations in the ODELT certification series.

Below we have some helpful tips if you are trying to share an article with your class.

If you have any copyright questions, please feel free to contact the library at


The Teach (Technology, Education, and Copyright Harmonization) Act, like Fair Use, is an exemption to copyright to afford educators rights to use copyrighted works regardless of rights designations. Contact for more assistance with Fair Use or the Teach Act.

The Teach Act

You are exempt from copyright considerations if you use the materials in accordance with the TEACH Act or Section 110(2) of the Copyright Code. Here is an explanation of this part of the law. There is also a checklist available to help you identify whether a use is sanctioned under the TEACH Act.

If you have an article not covered by our academic copyright license that you still wish to use, you can request the material be placed on E-Reserves through Bell Library.  In some cases, copyright permission can be purchased and the library will pay the fee up to a certain amount.  If the fee exceeds the library's cap, your department can make up the remaining cost, or you may have to find new material to use.

Showing Movies on Campus

As creative works, motion pictures and other video media are protected by copyright. In order to publicly display these works, you must have the proper license for public performance. If you would like to show a video on campus outside of a class activity, you must secure a public performance license for the video content in question. 


One exception to this is if the video media is being shown in a classroom or as part of a learning activity related to a face-to-face or online class. You may show an entire film as part of a classroom activity. Another exception is Fair Use. Email if you have any questions about the classroom or Fair Use exemptions from copyright. 

What are Open Educational Resources?

Open Educational Resources (OER) are teaching, learning, and research materials in any medium -- digital or otherwise -- that reside in the public domain or have been released under an open license that permits no-cost access, use, adaptation, and redistribution by others with no or limited restrictions. Follow the link below to learn more!

What is Open Access? 

SPARC defines open access this way:

Open Access is the free, immediate, online availability of research articles combined with the rights to use these articles fully in the digital environment.

Follow the link below or go to "Your Copyright" in this guide to learn more

Alexa Hight - Scholarly Communication Librarian

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Alexa Hight
Bell Library, Room 115

Tutorial: Overview on using Copyrighted Works in the Classroom


This guide was created using many resources, many of them are linked throughout the guide. This guide was also built using information from: Crews, K. D. (2012). Copyright law for librarians and educators. Chicago: American Library Association.