The US Copyright Law includes many exceptions, exemptions, and limitations in the law (see Sections 107-122 of the US Copyright Law to learn more). They were added to the law to ensure progress continues. This is necessary because new works build upon, are influenced by, and make reference to works that came before them. If these exceptions, exclusions, and limitations did not exist, the creators and authors could monopolize their rights for all time and progress as we know it would cease to exist. Therefore, the copyright law allows the public to use works in certain ways and under certain conditions without the need for asking permission because they are seen to serve the fundamental public interest and good.
There are numerous exceptions, exemptions, and limitations in the US Copyright Law. This section will look at those that are most often used in teaching and education.
Section 110(1) of the US Copyright law is the Classroom Use Exemption in the copyright law. This exemption was added to the copyright law because of the high-value of educational uses. This exemption only allows for performing or displaying any copyrighted works in the face-to-face classroom. This includes videos, images, artwork, skits, public readings of poems, etc. It does not include photocopies handed out to students in the class.
The exemption can only be used under certain conditions or situations, including:
If all conditions are met, instructors and students are free to perform or display any copyrighted works without asking permission, paying copyright fees, or relying on fair use.
The Classroom Use Exemption is not flexible like Fair Use. It does not apply to conditions outside of the above conditions including for-profit institutions, online classrooms like Blackboard, or web-conferencing learning environments like Zoom, Adobe Connect, Google Hangouts, or Skype.
The US Copyright Law was updated in an attempt to better meet the needs of distance and online learning. The TEACH Act, Section 110(2), provides protection for those teaching if certain conditions are met.
Currently, CSS does not have all the conditions met to allow for the institution or the faculty to fall under the protection of the TEACH Act. However, faculty can still use Fair Use when considering materials for their online courses.
The information presented in this guide is intended for informational and educational purposes only. It is not offered as legal advice or counsel. Faculty, staff, students, and others associated with the college should consult an attorney for advice concerning their individual copyright situations and needs.