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Copyright & Fair Use in the Classroom

This guide is intended to help faculty navigate the use and reproduction of copyright protected works in the classroom and on online course platforms.

Public Licensed or Public Domain Resources


Look for resources covered by public copyright licenses, or available on the public domain. These do not require a fair use analysis to use in class or post on Blackboard.


1. Open Educational Resources (OER) are teaching, learning, and research resources that are either available in the public domain, or have been released under public licenses and may support the free use, modification, and adaption of works.  Resources provided by OER include course materials, modules, textbooks, streaming videos, tests, software, and any other tools, materials, etc.


Search core OER repositories, including:


2. Creative Commons (CC) is a flexible set of recognized public copyright licenses that content creators can apply to their work to indicate how others may use it. These licenses do not replace copyright but rather grant additional permissions for the use of the content. By applying a public license to a work, authors determine how the public can use and share their work without infringing copyright. Make sure that your use does not violate the license and that you properly attribute the content.

Explore the different types of Creative Commons licenses and find resources covered by these licenses. Provide attribution for resources used.


3. The Public Domain: work available in the public domain is not covered by copyright or other intellectual property rights and may be used freely. This includes adapting, modifying and creating a derivative work. Care must be taken in verifying whether a work is in the public domain, and if it is not clear, contact the copyright owner directly, or use the work on a fair use basis only. Be sure to acknowledge the original creator even if the work is in the public domain.

Search databases that include public domain materials: