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A guide to copyright law as it relates to academic research, teaching, and publication.

Online Course Sites

The law permits faculty to provide access to copyrighted material for registered students using an online course site such as NYU Brightspace, but copyright (and sometimes licensing) restrictions still apply.  

Articles and other materials from library databases are subject to license agreements that specify how database contents may be used. For the majority of our licensed databases, fair use applies, allowing instructors to post scans of individual articles or select book chapters into NYU Brightspace for their students to access.

In addition, nearly all database materials can be made available through NYU Brightspace by linking to the appropriate database. Linking is just as easy as attaching a PDF.

There's more information about NYU Brightspace or visit Brightspace home.

Watch this video about Brightspace (1 minute, 54 seconds):

TEACH Act and Distance Education

The Technology, Education, and Copyright Harmonization Act of 2001 permits instructors of non-profit educational institutions to display audio-visual and other works for distance education courses in a manner comparable to what would be permitted in a live, face-to-face classroom. Under the TEACH Act, instructors may make available online for student use:

  • full performances of nondramatic literary or musical works (i.e., no plays, musicals, operas, etc.); or
  • "reasonable and limited portions" of dramatic audio-visual or other types of works.

The material must only be made available to students enrolled in a particular course (e.g., under the password-protected auspices of a Course Management System) and only during the time period (e.g., quarter, semester, summer session) of that particular course. In addition, the material must be accompanied by a notice to students that it only be used in accordance with copyright law and the copyright policy of the institution.

For more information about the TEACH Act and how it applies, see this checklist from University of Texas Library

It should be noted that the TEACH Act stands apart from the Fair Use exception. Even if an instructor is unable to make material available to students under the TEACH Act, the use still may qualify for Fair Use protection. 

Contacts & Help

For help with streaming services and digital material production, please contact NYU Digital Studio

Posting Video & Audio

Audio and video materials can be made available to students online through NYU Brightspace:

  • The library licenses a wide selection of audiovisual material that can be streamed by students using links on NYU Brightspace. 
  • Clips of copyrighted movies and music can also be uploaded to NYU Brightspace under Fair Use.

In addition, copyright law provides a classroom exception in section 110(1) allowing instructors to show entire copyrighted works during the course of a face-to-face class session.

Streaming Full-Length Films

Uploading full-length films from DVDs into NYU Stream or NYU Brightspace is not generally supported by fair use or other exceptions to copyright law. A much better practice is to request an authorized copy of the film for streaming into NYU Brightspace.

The Libraries license streaming media from a number of vendors covering a wide range of content:

For materials not currently licensed by the Libraries for streaming, please contact your subject specialist for assistance.