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Copyright and Fair Use: In the Classroom and Online: FAQ

A guide to inform faculty about copyright and fair use.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some frequently asked questions about item usage in the classroom. If you would like additional advice concerning a particular use, you may contact Jeannette Glover at 309.649.6603 or email

Q: Can I show a VHS or DVD in my classroom?

A: Yes, as long as the VHS or DVD is legally acquired. Section 110(1) of Title 17 of the U.S. Code grants exemption for this scenario. 

Q: Can I show YouTube videos in my classroom? 

A: Yes, see Terms of Service for questions concerning the company's usage policy.  

Q: Can I use an image from the web in my presentation?

A: The recommendation is to use images found with a Creative Commons license. Start here with your search.

Q: Can I photocopy an entire book, music score, or play that is out of print for class instruction or course reserve?

A: No, out of print does not mean out of copyright. You should only copy a small portion of the work or seek permission from the copyright holder.

Q: Can I place the same copied article or book chapter on reserve for more than one semester?

A: Yes, but if the item was borrowed from outside of the institution you or the library should consider purchasing the article or book.

Q: Can I download an article from a library database and share it with students in Canvas?

A: Yes, just be sure that the article is limited to students in that classroom. Best practices dictate to provide the citation to your students and inform them which database to search for the article (this also gives students a chance to practice searching a database).