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Faculty Guide - Northwest: Integrity: Copyright/Copywrong

Copyright in the Classroom

Copyright can be a confusing issue in many cases. Is it alright to show a video in class? What about uploading it onto Blackboard? The library can offer some assistance in dealing with intellectual property law.

Note: Librarians are not lawyers. Our suggestions are guidelines based on our understanding of current permissions. If you need detailed or official legal advice, please seek a lawyer.

With that warning out of the way, the library can offer guidelines on what constitutes fair use in the classroom for using material or putting it online. If there is an issue with needing to get rights, we can offer some assistance in what may need to be done or who to contact to get the permissions needed.


Citing Sources

Note that MLA and APA have both undergone an update as of Summer 2009, to their 7th and 6th editions respectively. Most online resources have changed to these new models, and there are some notable differences in style. The library has copies of both the new MLA and APA guides in book form available if you wish to look through them.

In the Help section of the Library website, we have short guides for citing works for students. They are available in PDF format so that you can print off a copy of the guides. Currently we have the MLA guide updated to the 7th edition, the APA guide is updated to the 6th edition version. We also have samples of papers to help guide students with formatting their research papers in the proper manner. 

Ivy Tech also subscribes to a service called NoodleTools, an online citation generator and manager. Students can use this to generate citations by filling out forms which ask for the relevant information in a source. It also allows faculty to create a class, this feature has students join after which the instructor can see their citation lists and offer comments. If you're interesting in making use of this feature, feel free to contact the library for help.

Guidelines on Fair Use

There's no definite rules on fair use, but there are some guidelines that can help when making a decision. Indiana University's Center for Innovative Teaching and Learning (CITL), provides a site called "Copyright and Fair Use: Borrowed Media for Instruction" and a link to a guide about Fair Use. The checklist was developed by Dr. Kenneth Crews, J.D., director of Columbia University's Libraries/ Information Services Copyright Advisory Office. He was the former director of the Indiana University-Purdue University at Indianapolis' Copyright Management Center. 

This guide can help you decide if the materials that you are using in your courses fall under fair use.

IU's CITL -  Fair Use Checklist  - This is not an exhaustive guide, but can help familarize you with Fair Use. 

Columbia University also has an excellent copyright website. It is an excellent guide for copyright basics. Check out the Fair Use section! They also provide a checklist which can help you judge if your use of material would be considered fair use or not. You can download and print this checklist for your own use as an example to follow. 

We also have a section of the Library website, under Help and citing sources, that collects copyright links for students and faculty. It's got useful links to help explain to students what copyright is, as well as guides for faculty.

Second Thoughts

Some common practices you may want to double-check as regards "fair use":

  • Showing a video as a "reward" to a class, if it is not relevant to the course material, is not fair use
  • Using music to spice up a presentation, if it is not relevant to the course material, would not be fair use
  • If you use a student paper from a previous course as an example to other students, get permission to do so from the student author.
  • Avoid reusing the same material for a course. While fair use initially, get permission to use the material if you plan to keep using it.