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A quick guide to Augustana's copyright policy.

Copyright and COVID-19

The message below was provided to faculty by campus counsel during hybrid and virtual learning occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The COVID-19 pandemic has created the need to readjust courses and teaching plans to account for many learning differences, including an increased number of distance learners. While this presents numerous challenges, this brief memo offers guidelines to consider to help ensure we do not run afoul of copyright law as changes are made to coursework.

The College's Copyright Policy provides a more thorough review. You will also find some helpful copyright resources on this site, including a fair use evaluator tool.

As you consider the use of media and other copyrighted material in classes that include distance learners, please keep the following in mind:

  • It is always best to use materials that are either in public domain or that we have a license for.

  • Your use of copyrighted material in face-to-face instruction is always permitted, and does not require a license or assessment under fair use.

  • With distance learners or when teaching online, the use of an entire film will be extremely difficult to defend under fair use or the TEACH Act. The TEACH Act authorizes "reasonable and limited portions" of copyrighted work to be used in distance learning.  

  • Fair use may also authorize the use of copyrighted materials. The fair use analysis is highly fact intensive and is outlined in our copyright policy. Numerous resources are also available on the Copyright Research Guide to assess fair use. It is important to note that fair use also rarely results in authorization to use an entire lengthy work, such as a film. It may authorize the use of the entire portion of a smaller work, such as a poem, essay, or short story.

  • There is some suggestion from online contributors that the pandemic should impact the analysis under either TEACH Act or Fair Use. There has been no formal indication here - for instance, the CARES Act did not include any leniency in copyright law. This makes it tough to assess how much leniency if any exists. Copyright damages can also be statutory (meaning, they are set by law and not hinged on demonstration of harm), which increases the risk in the event of a violation.  

  • There may be other solutions available. For instance, depending on the number of distance learners, it may be best to obtain a license for these learners. The library staff is available to assist you with purchase options. Students may also purchase online streaming services such as Netflix for the term of the class that will allow viewing of copyrighted material.

If you have questions or concerns, please reach out to me or our Library staff for assistance. 

Sheri Curran