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Copyright Reminder

Many common campus activities involve copyright, and so it is critical that all Stanford faculty, students and staff have a working understanding of copyright law as it impacts their daily lives.  The Stanford University Libraries provide this Copyright Reminder to ensure that all members of the Stanford community have access to that critical information.  The Copyright Reminder highlights common campus copyright concerns, and outlines the fundamental elements of US copyright law that apply in those situations.

Recording courses


Before recording and broadcasting a Stanford course (for example, for inclusion in iTunesU), faculty must consider a number of issues, including intellectual property, privacy issues, and Stanford copyright and videotaping policies.  Certain classes may not be appropriate for public consumption. A few examples include classes which:

  • Rely on substantial in-class use and display of third-party copyrighted content
  • Involve discussion of identifiable patients or research subjects
  • Require substantial participation by students who may be made uncomfortable by the idea that their thoughts will be broadcast to the world

Students must have advance notice that a course will be recorded and broadcast; an area of the classroom room should be set aside for students who wish to remain off-camera. Faculty should also be available to answer student questions off-camera (e.g., during office hours). There are several groups with which faculty may work to determine whether to broadcast a particular course or lecture, including Stanford’s Vice-Provost for Online Learning, John Mitchell, and Lauren Schoenthaler in the legal office.

Faculty or staff interested in offering a public online course should register their interest at least two months in advance of a potential launch date. Normally, public courses will be launched once per quarter, subject to various considerations. Faculty developing online courses will be asked to sign a Course Development Agreement (CDA) and should allow enough lead time to work out copyright, accessibility, and other issues. Faculty creating Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) need to pay special attention to copyright concerns. Rights to post material on CourseWork may not apply in these larger systems. Similarly, face-to-face teaching exemptions do not apply. 


Students may not audio or video record lectures or classes without permission from the faculty leading the course (and guest speakers, when applicable).  When permission is granted, students may keep recordings only for personal use and may not post recordings on the Internet, or otherwise distribute them.  Students who need lectures recorded for disability-related reasons should contact the Office of Accessible Education