Copyright and Fair Use

This section provides FAQs for copyright and fair use as they relate to teaching and learning.  NYU Libraries keeps a resource page, and for consultations on which materials are acceptable for course use, please contact fairuse@nyu.edu.


Table of contents

  • Q. “The book for my course is copyrighted but it’s really expensive. Can I save my students some money and hand out copies of the text to them?”

  • A. Unfortunately, no. While we sympathize with the cost of course texts, copying an entire text will most likely violate copyright. You can secure the appropriate copyright permissions, talk with a NYU librarian about reserving the text, or talk to a NYU copyright librarian about how you might use some of the text under Fair Use guidelines. For more information on copyright and fair use, you can send an email to fairuse@nyu.edu.  Also, NYU Classes has an easy way to link to e-copies of texts available through Bobst.

  • Q. “I photocopied chapters from a copyrighted book and handed them out in class. Have I violated copyright?”

  • A. Probably not. Judicious use of selections from a copyrighted text for teaching and learning purposes is mostly likely protected under Fair Use. If you are concerned about copyright violations, please refer to the library resources or get in touch with an NYU copyright librarian at fairuse@nyu.edu.

  • Q. “I screened a copyrighted film for my students in class. Is that okay?”

  • Q. “I posted several chapters of a book to my NYU Classes site?  Have I violated copyright?”

  • A. Although NYU Classes is restricted to certain users, e.g., NYU faculty, students, and staff, and is not a public-facing website, you are still expected to uphold copyright permissions for anything that you post to your site.  If you have questions about copyrighted materials and fair use guidelines, it is a good idea to first check your plans with The Library Copyright Office at NYU Libraries or fairuse@nyu.edu.

  • Q.“I posted links to several to websites that put up copyrighted resources. Does that mean that I’ve violated copyright as well?”

  • A. No, you haven’t. The responsibility for copyright violations rests with the entity that posted the original material. It is perfectly fine to link to it. However, you should be aware that the website may eventually be asked to take down the copyrighted materials and you will no longer have access to them. To guarantee that the material you’re linking to remains accessible, consider asking an NYU librarian about linking to articles and databases purchased by NYU Libraries or placing the material you need on reserve.

  • Q. “I’m putting together a short essay collection of my students’ work for teaching purposes. Is it okay to do this without checking with the students’ first? Can I put the collection up on my blog for future students?”

  • A. Copyright rests with the author even when the author is your student. If you’re looking to use a collection of student work for educational purposes, e.g., as a text for a future class, then you should aim to secure permission first. It may be that this use case is protected under Fair Use, but it is a good idea to check with The Library Copyright Office at NYU Libraries or fairuse@nyu.edu before you do so.

  • Q. “I would like to point my TA toward resources about copyright and fair use for instruction in our recitation sections but I don’t know where to start. Where can I find some helpful resources?”

  • Q. “I want my students to create public-facing NYU Web Publishing blogs this semester, but I want them to be thoughtful and use discretion when posting songs, images, and selections from other texts and websites on their own blogs. What should I tell them?”

  • Q. “I read that issues pertaining to copyright and fair use are changing constantly, particularly in higher education. I’m interested in keeping up with these issues more generally. Where should I look?”

  • Q.“I would like my students to watch a film, but do not want to schedule an in-class session for them to view it. Can I copy the film and post to NYU Stream, creating a private channel only for my students?”

  • A. We understand that showing films in class takes up valuable learning time. Also, scheduling a group session outside of class is often not convenient for all class members. There are several recommendations for making films accessible to students.
    • Contact Avery Fisher (http://library.nyu.edu/afc/staff.html) to learn about the streaming island service. This enables a film to be made available on up to 10 library stations simultaneously, meaning that up to 10 students can watch a film within an overlapping time frame.
    • Place a copy of the film on reserve for students to check out.
    • Check the list of resources on the Databases tab to see if NYU Libraries has licensed the film that you have in mind. If so, the film might be available for streaming online so that students can watch the film in their own space.