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Faculty Help: Copyright: FAQs

Copyright FAQ Links

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I make photocopies of this article for my class?

Instructors can make one copy per student in their class. However, the copies must meet the tests of brevity, spontaneity, and cumulative effect, and each copy must include a notice of copyright.

  • Brevity - Examples: A complete poem of less than 250 words, or an excerpt from a longer poem of not more than 250 words. A complete article, story or essay of less than 2,500 words. An excerpt of prose not more than 10% of the work. One chart, graph, diagram, drawing cartoon or picture per book or per periodical issue.
  • Spontaneity - The copying is at the instance and inspiration of the individual instructor, and the decision to use the work and the moment of its use are so close in time that it would be unreasonable to expect a timely reply to a request for permission.
  • Cumulative Effect - With the exceptions of newspapers, or current news of other periodicals, the copying is only for one course. Each course is limited to one instance from the same author or three instances from the same collective work or periodical volume during one semester. Cannot provide more than nine instances of photocopying for the entire class per semester.


Can I link to an article from a library database in Canvas?

Yes. If the college has access to an article through the library databases, linking to it through your Canvas course is always good practice.


Can I link to a website in Canvas?

Yes. Linking to a website that is open for all to see is considered an "implied license." However, if the website has some sort of method for you to accept their terms of use (usually by click an 'accept' button), then by clicking 'accept' you are required to follow their licensing terms for the website.

Are my student's presentations, assignments, etc. copyrighted?

Yes, they are. Before reusing student work as an example, you should always ask for permission from your students.

Can I digitize this VHS tape, picture, etc.?

Generally not if it is available for sale in digital format.


Adapted from NOVA Libraries

Can I stream a film from my personal account for class?


  • Netflix - Maybe. Netflix allows some of its original documentaries to be streamed for educational purposes. For information on educational screening and the list of titles, visit the Netflix website describing educational uses. While film screenings in classrooms fall under fair use, as a Netflix subscriber you agree to terms of use that only allow you to use the Netflix service for personal use. This agreement supersedes fair use.
  • Hulu - No. Hulu subscribers agree to terms of use that do not allow any streaming that is not for personal use. There are no provisions from Hulu that allow for educational screenings.
  • Amazon Prime Video - No. Amazon Prime subscribers agree to terms of use that do not allow any streaming that is not for personal use. There are no provisions from Amazon Prime Video that allow for educational screenings.

Alternative options include:

  • Check out a DVD from the library. Showing films owned by the library is permitted under fair use.
  • Stream a film from Films on Demand or Feature Films for Education. Films in these databases allow for educational uses such as screening in classrooms and linking in Canvas.
  • Contact the streaming service and ask them for permission. Messages posted online from teachers and instructors indicate that some streaming services will verbally grant you permission when you ask.



This page's content was developed by Andy Kulp at Shenandoah University.  Used with permission.


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