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Copyright Reminder

Copyright and intellectual property issues are a part of the fabric of research and scholarly communications, and thus all Stanford faculty, students and staff need a working understanding of copyright law as it impacts their daily lives. The Copyright Reminder, which highlights common campus copyright concerns and outlines fundamental elements of US copyright law, is distributed annually to ensure that the Stanford community remains aware of those issues.

Classroom use of material

In in-person teaching situations, most display of material is covered under the Face-to-Face Teaching exemption.  This exemption allows instructors to perform or display copyrighted materials during face-to-face teaching activities.  For example, it is permissible to show a full-length motion picture in class as part of the classroom learning. Note, however, that this exemption does not permit copying or distributing a work -- only displaying or performing it during class time.  Distribution of material in electronic format is discussed under Online Course Readers.  Also, as the title implies, this exemption applies only to in-class presentations that will not be posted on the public Internet.  They do not apply to any presentation that is to be posted onto the Internet or sold commercially.  Posting to the Internet even a single copyrighted image within a presentation, such as a political cartoon, may not be a fair use.  For publicly displayed content, refer to the Stanford Public Online Course Guidelines.

Where the Face-to-Face exemption is not available, faculty may look at Fair Use exemptions to present multimedia materials.  The 1997 Conference on Fair Use established guidelines for educators incorporating portions of lawfully acquired copyrighted works into their own educational multimedia programs. While these are guidelines only, and not mandated by law, they provide a good starting point for assessing whether your use of media qualifies as Fair Use. The recommended guidelines are:
• No more than 10% or 3 minutes (whichever is less) of motion-based works;
• No more than 10% or 30 seconds (whichever is less) of a song or video;
• No more than 10% of a text; and
• Entire photographs or illustrations may be used provided that no more than 10% or 15 images (whichever is less) come from any one source.

In 2014, in the Georgia State litigation regarding the use of e-reserves and e-coursepacks, the appellate court found that all copyright guidelines are truly that – guidelines -- and do not substitute for an individualized analysis of the four factors of the fair use doctrine.  In particular, the court found that use of the central aspect of a work, even if less than 10% might not qualify as fair use.