Copyright Basics

Copyright Overview
Fair Use
© Infringement Penalties
US Legal System

For Instructors

Face-to-Face Instruction
Virtual Instruction

For Researchers

Use of © Works
Author Rights
Thesis/ Dissertation

Copyright Resources

Campus Resources
Other Resources
UCO Publications
Reporting Alleged © Infringement

Transforming In Person Classes to Online

In this rapidly changing COVID-19 environment, faculty are being asked to transform their courses quickly to online versions. The U.S. Copyright Act has exceptions such as fair use which allows copyrighted works to be used without requesting permission from the copyright holder or paying a fee to use the works but only under certain circumstances. Copyright issues can be similar for both in person and online class sessions particularly if a learning management system (lms) such as Blackboard or Brightspace is used. The following information is based on restricting access to the materials to only those students officially enrolled in the course through an LMS.

Content for Videotaped and Streaming Lectures


If you are using a Powerpoint presentation for your lecture and there are images that you did not create in the slide deck that are integral to the course subject matter, then the use would be considered fair use.

Audio and Video

Short clips of audio and video incorporated into online lectures are generally found to be fair use. Entire works should not be imbedded into the lecture materials. If an entire movie, video, or song is needed, then students should be directed to use a legal streaming services such as Netflix, Amazon Prime, etc. or some other legal resource.


Links are the best way to access Libraries resources and publically available content. There are generally no copyright issues associated with this provided it is a legal copy on the site. For example, if a web site has the latest movies or television shows and it is not a subscription based service then it is probably an illegal site that should be avoided. Copies of materials that are electronically available through the Libraries should not be uploaded to the LMS but instead a link should be provided.

Course Materials

The Libraries subscribe to many electronic resources that have journals, books, data and audiovisual materials that are available to the Purdue University community. Check out the Libraries website for access to these resources.

Copyright ownership of online courses

The University’s FAQ for issues pertaining to COVID-19 provides the following information on copyright ownership “Materials developed for online instruction in response to the Covid-19 outbreak will not be reused or commercialized, notwithstanding the University’s Policy on Intellectual Property (I.A.1) and Standard S-19 related to Courseware and Online Modules.”

For further information on copyright issues, please contact Donna L. Ferullo at

(updated March 13, 2020)


The mission of the University Copyright Office is to educate the Purdue University community on copyright.
The information contained on the UCO site should not be considered legal advice.
Individuals should consult their own attorneys.

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