Copyright law in the United States is made to support teaching, research, and learning.
It is evident that, to a significant extent and within reason, making materials available and accessible to students in this time of crisis is likely to be a fair use. Fair use (17 USC 107) allows copyrighted material to be used in certain circumstances for purposes such as teaching, research, criticism, and news reporting, without the need for permission from or payment to the copyright holder.
Even under normal circumstances, courts favor educational uses because of their broad public benefits. As long as we are being thoughtful in our analysis and limiting our activities to the specific needs of our patrons during this time of crisis, copyright law supports our uses. Limitations include:
- restricting access to course materials only to students, instructors, or teaching assistants enrolled in the course
- providing content only for the period of time needed
- excerpting materials when pedagogically appropriate
The fair use doctrine accommodates the flexibility required by our shared public health crisis, enabling society to function and progress while protecting human life and safety.
This statement is adapted from the Public Statement of Library Copyright Specialists: Fair Use & Emergency Remote Teaching & Research.