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Copyright: Classroom Use

Making Copies for Teaching

The U.S. Copyright Office provides minimum standards for what is considered educational fair use under Section 107 of the U.S. Copyright law. Multiple copies (not to exceed more than one copy per student in a course) may be made by or for the instructor for classroom use or discussion if the following guidelines are followed.

  1. The copying meets the tests of brevity and spontaneity.
  2. It meets the cumulative effect test.
  3. Each copy includes a notice of copyright.
  4. Copying isn’t used to create, replace or substitute for anthologies, compilations or collective works.


The 2002 Technology, Education, and Copyright Harmonization Act (TEACH Act) amended §110(2) to expand the scope to educators in the remote classroom setting, provided certain specific requirements are met. Although the use rights provided by the TEACH Act are similar to those for face-to-face classroom teaching, there are still important limitations on those rights in the distance education context. For example, whereas an entire film or video may be shown in a physical classroom if related to the course, only “reasonable and limited portions” of films and videos may be shown in the distance education setting. It is important for faculty to understand what the TEACH Act does and does not allow, and to remember that the Fair Use Doctrine is still available and may allow a use in distance education that would not be allowed by the TEACH Act.

Visit the Crash Course in Copyright from the University of Texas for more information, a toolkit, and a checklist.

Group Showing of Videos (Public Performance Rights)

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Sometimes a video under copyright protection and owned by the University of Iowa Libraries can be shown in a group setting, while other times it cannot. Additionally, some videos owned by the Libraries were obtained with public performance rights which may allow them to be shown under certain circumstances. See the following guidelines:

Circumstances when permission is not required.

  • Face-to-face classroom teaching involving only students registered for the class in question, where the copy of the video is lawfully made, and where the professor is present during the screening.

Circumstances when rights need to be obtained

  • Face-to-face classroom teaching where the audience includes people other than registered students, or where the other requirements noted above are not met.
  • Any screening of a video that takes place outside a classroom shown to a group of people, especially when advertised as an public event.

How to check if UI has public performance rights to a film


Tools to Determine Ability to Use