Copyright Compliance Information

  • Copyright laws were established to give exclusive rights to creators thereby promoting progress. There is no one-size-fits-all answer to copyright questions. Copyright laws apply to music, writing, images, performing arts, digital content and more. In short, copyright laws prohibit reusing copyrighted works, regardless of giving credit. This means that you may not use music, images, words, videos and more on your website and presentation if the license prohibits this. 

    Legal Information
    This page was created to provide guidance on copyright information.  All the information is available on the internet and although we believe it is accurate, it should not be substituted for legal counsel on any copyright questions.  All people are responsible for locating and complying with copyright licensing.  This organization will not be held responsible for any third-party copyright infringement. 


    Fair Use during a Pandemic Word Document

    Fair Use During a Pandemic Google Document

Different Types of Licenses

    • Copyright ownership allows the owner of the copyrighted work to share, modify, distribute, display or perform the work. However, even if you are the creator of the work, you may not be the copyright owner if it was created as a work for hire or part of an employment agreement.

    • Public Domain refers to creative works with no copyright licensing. This may be due to copyright being waived, expired, or inapplicable. On January 1 of every year, more works are added to the public domain. Derivative works of public domain material may be copyrighted.

    • Open Source refers to many different types of licenses that were created to further the advancement of information sharing, generally computer source code, by not having a copyright. This is sometimes referred to as "Copyleft". For more information CLICK HERE.

    • Creative Commons licenses refer to licenses that allow works to be used and modified as long as the user abides by the terms and conditions of the license. Under Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, you are free to share and adapt. This means you can copy and redistribute the material in any medium or format. You can also remix, transform and build upon the material for any purpose. To share the Creative Commons licensed material, you must give attribution (proper credit) and notices found HERE.

Fair Use and Classroom Exemption

  • Fair Use allows for some use of copyrighted material for educational purposes. There isn't a clear set of rules or definitions for fair use. This VIDEO is concise and clear about fair use. Many refer to the Four Factor Test as a guide for determining if the usage of work would fall under fair use. Works permitted by fair use in classroom instruction are also allowable in secured online courses, that is a course that would require a login and password to access.

    Four Factor Test:

    • The Purpose and Character of the Use
    • The Nature of the Copyrighted Work
    • The Amount or Substantiality of the Portion Used
    • The Effect of the Use on the Potential Market for or Value of the Work

    For more information CLICK HERE.

    Fair Use Law

    Reproduction of Copyright Works by Educators and Librarians

    Classroom Exemption allows for use beyond fair use for certain performances and displays.  This use is not allowable for online courses. To qualify, it must meet all five of these requirements:

    • used in a nonprofit educational institution
    • used in a classroom
    • used for a regular part of instruction (can't be a movie shown for a reward)
    • is directly related to the teaching content 
    • used for a person who is disabled or unable to attend class due to special circumstances

    Information is taken from Pennsylvania College of Health Sciences


    TEACH Act refers to the law that allows lawful uses of copyrighted materials in distance education and online courses. TEACH act FAQs from the American Library Association can be found HERE.

    Copyright: Summary of the Report on Digital Distance Education


  • Subscription Resources
    The OHM Media program provides access to several subscription digital resources through our online platform, SNAP. These resources can be used by teachers and students, in the classroom, online (with password protection) and at home.   

    The OHM Media program now provides every school in the media program with a Movie License USA Public Performance Site License allowing them to legally show movies* in their school building at any time. 
    *Although many movie publishers are covered under this license, including Disney and Dreamworks, be sure to check if the movie you want to show is covered. 


    Resources available through SLS
    There are more copyright compliant resources available through the Digital Resources CoSer. Britannica Image Quest allows teachers and students to use their images on websites and online presentations. Please call 315.793.8505 to inquire about a resource.

  • Fair Use during times when schools and libraries are shut down

     This information should be taken as a guide and not as a final determination of the law.

    In the gray areas of Copyright and Fair Use, clarification of the laws usually occurs in the courtroom. The items that are checked as “can probably do” have not been legislated in a courtroom - or at least no court has ever made an award against doing them.  Let your ethics be your guide. Ask yourself, if I were the creator, what would my expectations of others be? The two most important factors to consider when determining fair use are 1) Purpose (Schools and libraries are closed due to Covid 19, teachers have been forced to take their in person instruction to online instruction with no time to adequately prepare materials)    2) Market share (I think this is usually the one that people get sued over - if this keeps someone from earning fair compensation, it is usually wrong)



    Can Do

    Probably Can Do

    Do Not Do




    Show parts of a legally obtained copy of a movie that I normally show in my class.




    Must be a “live” meeting; best practice to show in segments as you would in a physical class setting

    Have students watch a movie on a service we have a subscription to like Learn 360 or Discovery Ed



    Provide links to the movie or video clip behind a LMS or Google Classroom - Do not put usernames and password out on the internet, they can be sent through email or posted on your Google Classroom

    Link out to a movie on Youtube and ask students to watch the movie




    There has yet to be a prosecution for merely supplying a link to something… ethically may be questionable...In other times I would encourage you to obtain a legal copy of the movie

    Upload a DVD I purchased to Youtube and provide the link to students to watch






    Using pictures in my online class for instruction




    Using pictures to enhance the aesthetics of my website

    Depends on usage rights…

    I can’t find copyright…

    Creative Commons - with attribution

    A Photo I took

    A photo in the public domain











    Creative commons licensed photos may have stipulations on how they want you to give attribution. Make sure you read to find out how


    Texts/ Books


    Digitize a copy of a book that we normally read and own class sets of and then loan “copies” to students




    If a school has x print copies but those copies are in-accessible to students, only x number of students may access the title at a time. The digitized copy must be shared in a protected platform. Students must not have the ability to download, share, save, edit, etc. The digital copy must be returned/revoked when the loan period is over. When access to the physical copies resumes, the digital version must be deleted. (Google classroom may have a feature to lock permissions from a student for a file, and remove the file from the google classroom when finished.)

    Have students check books out from Overdrive



    Assign students to read books from a subscription service like Tumblebooks



    Copy a small quantity of pages or text and use to create an assignment I will share using Google Classroom




    This should fall under fair-use without a problem.

    Record myself reading a book aloud and

    Posting it to google classroom

    Posting it to Youtube/Facebook or my website 







    If an author or publisher has given permission- follow their guidelines.  Many have put some restrictions on their permissions; While posting on youtube or another open platform is possible, it isn’t advisable.  If possible, use a private youtube channel and post a link in Google classroom or your LMS Read more HERE

    Educational Practices Enabled by Fair Use

    In the following cases, after thinking through the educational purpose of the use, educational communities can rely on fair use to translate in-person teaching practices to the digital context:   

    1. A teacher reads an introductory segment of a nonfiction text aloud to provide students with background material, and offers pre-recorded segments for students to choose to listen to next so that students can select their own learning paths.
    2. A teacher who regularly begins a class session with a chapter from a novel, to orient students in the physical classroom and to get them focused for learning, adapts that practice for virtual learning:
      1. Translating this practice to online learning by posting one chapter per day on a learning management system as an introductory exercise; and  
      2. Streaming this on a commercial platform, such as Facebook or Instagram, to prompt students to get online and start focusing on classroom work.
    3. In an online recording posted to a LMS, a teacher reads a few introductory paragraphs from a commercial textbook and goes on to highlight (and display on video) segments of the reading (that students are going to do independently).  The teacher goes on to read the textbook’s first discussion question and to provide additional context and directions for the students’ work.
    4. A teacher reads and shows two picture books to a class as part of a longer 30-minute lesson including discussion questions and context:
      1. The teacher is doing this for English language learners, interspersing reading from the book with scaffolding questions in students’ home language; and 
      2. The more the readings are contextualized, the less concern there need be about the platform on which they are offered.
    5. Teachers and students collaborate to read texts in parallel, contributing to a distributed reading project that documents both shared experiences and diverse voices. 
      1. Recordings of classmates reading aloud document students’ voices and experiences.
      2. Reading projects coordinated between schools and geographic locations create connections and learning opportunities for students to experience  

    Reading Aloud: Fair Use Enables Translating Classroom Practices to Online Learning by Meredith Jacob et al is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License and is available at 


    More Guidance: