Permission is not required if the material
Fair use (Section 107 of the U.S. Copyright Law) is a limitation and exception to the exclusive right granted by copyright law to the author of a creative work. In United States copyright law, fair use is a doctrine that permits limited use of copyrighted material without acquiring permission from the rights holders. Examples of fair use include commentary, search engines, criticism, parody, news reporting, research, teaching, and scholarship. It provides for the legal, unlicensed citation or incorporation of copyrighted material in another author's work under a four-factor balancing test. (source: Wikipedia)
What you need to know
Fair Use ensures that there are certain uses of copyrighted materials that don't require permission or payment. However, even if the purpose of the use is educational in nature, you must consider all four factors (Purpose, Nature of the work, Amount used, and Market impact) as a whole to determine whether a use is fair.
The TEACH Act (Section 110(2) of the U.S. copyright law) allows educators to perform or display copyrighted works in distance education under specified conditions. It was an attempt to address the growth of distance learning by clarifying and refining the provisions of section 110.
What you need to know
While the provisions of the TEACH Act may be applied to both fully online and "web enhanced" courses, they never trump Fair Use! It is also worth noting that the TEACH Act provisions are not nearly as generous as those established for face-to-face instruction. The TEACH Act does not apply to making articles and other supplemental materials available to your students that have traditionally been on reserve in the Library. For this you need to apply the "Four Factor" test to make a determination.
Due to a number of legal rulings concerning coursepacks, collections of documents assembled for students and commonly made available for purchase, permission should be sought when using any copyrighted material. More information and suggestions for obtaining permissions may be found on Stanford University's Academic Coursepacks page.
While we're not attorneys, MCC Reference Librarians or Educational Technology staff can provide guidance in the use of copyrighted materials in your courses.
MCC Library Reference Desk
(860) 512-2883 or email