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WSU Online Courses > Developing an Online Course > What you need to know > Copyright
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Developing an Online Course


Use of copyrighted materials in the online classroom may be allowable as a fair use or under the TEACH Act, or a license to use the material may be necessary. The TEACH Act is a provision of copyright law that may allow transmission of some materials without an express license from the copyright holder. Fair use may allow use of materials in a class (face-to-face or online) when certain factors weigh in favor of fair use. The factors are:

  1. the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes;
  2. the nature of the copyrighted work;
  3. the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and
  4. the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.

Title 17, U. S. Code, sec. 107

Although you are encouraged to take advantage of the TEACH Act and fair use, WSU Online's usual practice is to obtain digital streaming licensing and/or distribution rights from copyright holders for copyrighted materials in their entirety, including: media, case studies, articles, and/or images/art.

If an instructor needs a license to use copyrighted materials within a course, it is best to send the request as soon as possible to ensure enough time to obtain proper licensing.

Instructors of Pullman campus or regional campus courses that are not 'blended' with a WSU Online course need to obtain any necessary licensing and/or distribution rights from copyright holders on their own.

For more information, please refer to: Distance Education: Expanding the Classroom.

How to Find Copyright Free Materials

For more information on how to find copyright free or appropriately licensed materials check out our resource list here: Finding Copyright Free Materials.


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