Copyright/Fair Use

Every day, members of the ArtCenter community create and use various forms of intellectual property.

As creators of intellectual property, we expect others to abide by certain laws, regulations, and customs so that our work is used appropriately. As intellectual property users, we have a legal duty to abide by those same laws, regulations, and customs so that we use and share protected digital works appropriately. When you reproduce, display, perform and/or transmit/distribute copyrighted materials you are exercising at least one of the exclusive rights of the copyright holder. How can you do this legally without incurring liability or paying permission fees?

  • Copyright Policy

    • Assume all content, regardless of the format, publication status, and/or absence of a copyright symbol is protected by copyright.
    • Educational use alone does not automatically mean you can use copyrighted works freely in your DotED course.
    • Students hold the copyright to their works.
    • Giving proper attribution is irrelevant in determining copyright infringement.
    • Password-protecting a course does not automatically shield you from claims of copyright infringement or allow the upload of whatever you wish.
  • What Can You Use?

    • Use your own original works, as long as you have not transferred the copyright to another entity, or, if you did, you reserved the right to use the work for your own teaching, research and scholarship purposes.
    • Works in the Public Domain : the primary rule of thumb is that if the work was published in the U.S. before 1923, it is in the public domain.
    • You can use federal government works created by federal government employees within the scope of their employment.
  • Fair Use

    Fair use allows limited use of copyrighted material without requiring prior permission from the copyright holder. Many people mistakenly believe that fair use conveys carte blanche to instructors, as long as the use is educational. In fact, the statute lists four factors to be weighed when making a reasonable, good-faith analysis of the proposed use in order to determine whether it is a fair one. Consideration of all factors is required, although all factors do not have to be in favor of a use to make it a fair one.

    The four fair use factors are:

    1. The purpose and character of the use, including whether the 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.

    The Visual Resources Association (VRA), an international organization of image media professionals dedicated to furthering research and education in the field of image use and management, has released a Statement of the Fair Use of Images for Teaching, Research, and Study. The statement describes six uses of copyrighted images that the VRA believes fall within the U.S. fair use doctrine.

    These items include:

    • storing images for repeated use in the teaching context and transferring images to new formats if needed,
    • use of images for teaching purposes and the ability to post both large, high resolution images and thumbnails on course websites as online study materials, and
    • the reproduction of images in theses and dissertations.
  • Invoking Fair Use

    • Restrict access to the online material to enrolled students only. If an instructor independently  chooses to leave a course “open” to the public, he/she is responsible for protecting all copyrighted material (for example, locking down PDFs in Adobe Acrobat).
    • Post notices to the top of the DotED course site, informing students of their responsibility to protect copyright:


    Copyright Warning for Journal Articles, Book Chapters, Case Studies, and other printed material, including images, available to registered students in this course:

    The materials on this DotED course site are only for the use of students enrolled in this course for purposes associated with this course and may not be retained or further disseminated. Students enrolled in this class may print one copy of each page for review, research, and educational purposes only.

Information on this page was compiled from the following resources:

Syracuse University:

University of North Carolina, Charlotte:

Hobbs, R. (2010). Copyright Clarity: How Fair Use Supports Digital Learning. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin.