Copyright in Education

There are five ways to use a work in teaching whether it’s in a traditional classroom, a distance education environment or a combination of both using a course management system such as Blackboard.

Public Domain

Can use works that were published in the U.S. prior to 1923 and works that were produced by the U.S. government.  They are not protected by copyright.

CCC Academic License

EVMS Brickell Library Copyright Clearance Center

Copyright Education Exceptions

Section 110 of the U.S. Copyright Act regulates the use of copyrighted materials in nonprofit educational institutions. This section of the law categorizes works into performances or displays.  Showing a video, reading from a text, acting out a play or singing a song would qualify as a performance.  A display would consist of showing still images to the class such as photographs and slides. 

All educational uses of copyrighted materials are subject to the following:


  • The copyrighted work that is used must be a lawfully made copy.
  • Copyrighted works may be controlled by terms of use agreements such as ones with Apple or Netflix. Those agreements are legally valid and must be adhered to.
    • Classroom Teaching - See section for specifics
    • Distance Education Course Management Systems - See section for specifics

Fair Use

An exception under U.S. Copyright law that requires a four factor test be applied to each use of the work.


If none of the above options are applicable, then written permission to use the work is required.