Copyright and Fair Use

In general, if you do not own or have permission to use a work, and it does not fall under public domain or creative commons, you will need to meet the criteria for fair use. The TEACH Act provides additional guidelines to support educational use. However, numerous requirements must be satisfied to merit protection under fair use.

When teaching in the online environment, the requirements are more stringent as classroom use exemption for copyrighted material does not apply. This requires careful evaluation of media resources in the context of current law. It is your responsibility to comply with the law, and we've provided several great resources for learning about these issues below.

Open Educational Resources (OER)

Open Educational Resources (OER) are any type of media that is free and publicly available for educators and students to use, reuse, repurpose, and sometimes modify for educational purposes.

In the last few years, there has been a great push by states, organizations, and educational institutions to offer these resources systemically through online repositories, some of which have been peer-reviewed through national metrics such as Quality Matters. Today, if you perform a web search on OER, you will find a large number of OER initiatives around the world and sites that offer open content ranging from learning objects to textbooks to whole courses often available under one of the open Creative Commons Licenses that allows for reuse, revision, remixing and redistribution.

Additional resources

These are possible resources for finding creative commons, public domain, open, and/or royalty-free materials. Be sure to check the copyright status of any material you find on these websites to confirm that they are free to use.

Photos and other visuals

  • ARTStor has a digital library of nearly one million images in the areas of art, architecture, the humanities, and social sciences with a set of tools to view, present, and manage images for research and pedagogical purposes. Contact a subject matter librarian for free access.
  • Creative Commons is a non-profit service provider where authors can share and license their work, including images, videos, music, and text.
  • Flickr Creative Commons lets you find images that Flickr users have chosen to offer under a Creative Commons license. Access these images within Canvas using the "image" icon on the second row of the toolbar.
  • The Library of Congress is a rich resource of historical images, videos, audio, and written documents including books and articles. Some items contained in the collections are copyrighted.
  • Pixabay provides high-resolution images (and videos) free for use, modification, and sharing without attribution.
  • Wikimedia Commons offers freely usable images, audio, and videos, attribution required.

Video repositories

  • BigThink offers interviews and insight from the world's most influential experts in business, entertainment, education, religion, and media.
  • Crash Course Videos are made by the author John Green, his brother Hank, and other subject matter experts. All videos in the series are free to use under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 license.
  • PBS Video offers a number of their original programs.
  • TED Talks contain videos of "riveting talks by remarkable people, free to the world.

Music and audio content

Course material repositories