Copyright FAQs

I want to share resources with my students. Can you give me some basic guidelines on copyright?

What is always okay:

  • Scan and post from a book that is covered by our Academic License through the Copyright Clearance Center (subject to the publisher's terms).
  • Link to an article in Sophi Search or one of of our subscription databases.
  • Link to a freely available online resource (open source journal, academic web site, YouTube video, etc.)
  • Scan and post a resource that is in the public domain.
  • Put a complete book, owned by the library, on reserve.
  • Scan and post a single chapter from a book or a single article from a journal issue for one semester.

What may require licensing:

  • Put multiple chapters from a book or journal article on your classroom portal or on reserve in the library.
  • Put copies of book chapters or journal articles that the library does not own on reserve at the library for multiple semesters.

How can I find out if Stitt Library has electronic access to a journal article I want to link to from my class portal?

It is easy to find out what journals Stitt Library has electronic access to using Sophi Search on the Research Tools section of the library web page. You can search by article or journal title in the main search box. You can also search for a journal title directly using the EBSCO Journal Title Search or by clicking "Journal Titles" at the top of the Sophi Search window.

If you need assistance finding an electronic version of an article, contact Lila Parrish, Public Services Librarian, or another member of the library staff.

Instructions for creating a link to an article from one of our subscription databases are available as a printable PDF.

How can I tell if a use of material I have planned for my class would fall under Fair Use?

The determination of fair use is a risk-management decision based on four factors:

  1. Purpose of the Use (Commercial or non-profit? Educational?)
  2. Nature of the Copyrighted Material (Factual or creative?)
  3. Amount Copied
  4. Effect on the Market for the Original

Copies made under the protection of Fair Use should:

  • Be made available for the minimum amount of time they are needed for the class. It is the responsibility of the individual who adds the files to the class page to remove them when they are no longer needed.
  • Be posted on the password-protected Portal, and not on the open web.
  • Include proper attribution and a notice of copyright.
  • Be made available free of charge.

It is the policy of Austin Seminary that no more than one chapter per book or one article per journal issue is permitted to be copied under fair use.

An online tool like the Fair Use Evaluator (from the Copyright Advisory Network) can help you work through the four-factor Fair Use test.

What is public domain? How can I find out if something I want to use in class is in the public domain?

Public domain includes all works that are past their period of copyright protection, that have never been covered by copyright, or that have been donated to the public domain by their creators. These works can be used free of charge and without permission of their creators.

A good rule of thumb is that any work that was published in the US before 1923 is in the public domain. Unpublished works generally enter the public domain 70 years after the death of the author.

Other materials covered by public domain include facts, ideas, numbers, and any work created by the US Government.

Note: Just because a work is out of print or available free of charge does not mean it is in the public domain.

There are plenty of exceptions and complications to public domain – a good resource to determine the public domain status of a particular work is the Digital Copyright Slider.

What is the Annual Copyright License? How can I use it to help me share readings with my students?

The Annual Copyright License is administered through the Copyright Clearance Center and allows faculty, students, and staff of Austin Seminary to reproduce textual resources from participating publishers electronically or in print. More information on using this license can be found here.

You can search by title or ISBN here to see if a book you want to use is covered by the license. You can also send a list of sources to Kristy for a copyright check.

I know I am supposed to put a copyright notice on all reproduced materials provided to my students. What is that notice, and where can I find it?

It is important that any material you copy or scan includes a copyright notice. See this page for more information on the copyright notice and how to include it.

Can I play audio or video in class? Can I project web sites or photographs?

Display of print, photographs, web-based, or audio/video material in the classroom is always allowed when copies are not being made as long as:

  • the resource being displayed was obtained legally;
  • it is being used for instructional purposes;
  • it is being shown in a face-to-face teaching environment;
  • and at a non-profit educational institution.

Can I make copies of a resource and hand them out to my students in class?

Print copies can be made for classroom use (no more than one per student) if they meet the tests of brevity, spontaneity, and cumulative effect as described in the guidelines of the Association of American Publishers and The Author's League of America (see below) and they include proper attribution and a notice of copyright.

  • Brevity:
    • Poetry: A complete poem of less than 250 words or an excerpt of not more than 250 words
    • Prose: A complete article, story, or essay of fewer than 2,500 words or an excerpt of not more than 10 percent
    • Illustration: One map, chart, graph, diagram, drawing, cartoon or picture per book or per periodical issue
  • Spontaneity
    • Using the work is at the inspiration of the professor teaching the class.
    • The time between deciding to use the work and the class period makes seeking copyright permission unreasonable.
  • Cumulative effect
    • Copies are used in one class only.
    • No more than one piece per author and no more than three pieces per volume.
    • Copying for the class is limited to nine instances per term.

When can I share copyrighted material on my course portal / in my CIM class?

You can share copyrighted material on your course portal when it meets any one of these criteria:

  • Material is in one of the library’s subscription databases
  • Material is provided via a link to the open web
  • Material is covered by the Seminary’s license through the Copyright Clearance Center
  • Material is in the public domain
  • With permission from the copyright owner
  • Under fair use
  • Within the requirements of the TEACH Act. You can find out more about the TEACH Act on the Copyright Resources page.

Can I upload a video to my CIM class?

We could make a case for putting video on the portal if:

  • It is a non-dramatic work
  • We put it up for just the amount of time that students need to access it, and preferably have it streaming or in some other way discourage downloading of the file
  • We can legally make a digital copy (in the case of a VHS tape) or rip a digital file from a DVD, and the film is not available for purchase digitally
  • We show only “an amount comparable to that which is typically displayed in the course of a live classroom session.”

When can I legally convert an analog resource (like a VHS tape) into a digital file that I can share on the portal?

You can make a digital version of an analog resource when:

  • The amount that may be converted is limited to the amount of appropriate works that may be performed or displayed, pursuant to the revised Section 110(2); and
  • A digital version of the work is not “available to the institution,” or a digital version is available, but it is secured behind technological protection measures that prevent its availability for a distance-education program.


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