Butler Library staff are working hard to support instructors’ needs for resources and information as they rapidly shift to an online teaching environment. Information presented here is meant to proactively address questions concerning copyright and teaching online.
Many pedagogical and technical issues make the shift from in-person to online teaching challenging, yet copyright is not an additional area of great concern. Many of the legal issues are the same in both contexts.
Depending on how the lecture captures are made, they may constitute education records and be protected by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). If students are identified or included in the recordings, it is probably a protected record.
Please see this resource from the University of Massachusetts for more information about protected records:
If it was legal to show slide images in class, it is likely legal to show them to students via live video conferencing or in recorded videos.
Playing audio or video off of physical media during an in-person class session is 100% legal at Buffalo State College under a provision of copyright law called the the Classroom Use Exemption (17 U.S.C. §110(1)) which is about face-to-face teaching. However, that exemption doesn't cover playing the same media online. For this online teaching with media there are specialized options:
Please note that course reserves will convert to a three day loan (from a two hour loan) and will follow Library quarantine policies (three days) before being loaned again.
If you want to share readings with students, or if you want students to share more resources with each other in an online discussion board, keep in mind some simple guidelines.
Remember: it is best to always include a copyright notice from the original source and appropriate citations and attributions.
Linking to content from the Butler Library, open access repositories, or publicly available content can be one of the easiest and legal methods for access to class materials.
Open access (OA) refers to peer-reviewed scholarly research and literature that is free, online, and openly licensed for sharing. OA repositories preserve and provide access to this material, often in the form of articles, preprints, reprints, data, theses, dissertations, and other media. You might consider adding your work to our institutional repository, Digital Commons.
Here are some other resources you can use to link:
YouTube, Vimeo, and other media content providers often let you link or embed into your own website, course, or teaching materials. While there is a lot of content available online, not all content is lawfully provided -- therefore be alert. Some questions to ask when linking to content online:
Linking to news websites, existing online videos, and other publicly available resources are normally not a copyright issue. However, it’s better not to link to existing content that looks like it’s obviously in violation of copyright.
If you are making digital copies available for sharing on your class Blackboard site, here are some additional considerations:
Sharing an entire movie or musical work may be a bit more of an issue than playing it in class, but there may be options for your students to access it independently online. Try:
Kanopy Film & Media - an on-demand streaming video service for universities that offers over 26,000 titles on a broad range of subjects including anthropology, architecture, art, gender & race, environment & sustainability, health, law, media, politics and psychology/sociology. Please note that Kanopy films are licensed at a cost around $150 per year. The library has limited funds for this purpose.
Alexander Street Video - This site provides capabilities for searching across digital video databases by topic, creator, video type and language. Users can search transcripts, create playlists, and save clips for future viewing.
Digital Campus (SWANK) - a streaming video platform that contains mostly feature films. Please note that Digital Campus films are licensed at a cost around $150 per year. The library has limited funds for this purpose.
For the most part, these providers do not offer institutional accounts, so the Library cannot cover the cost of their services.
For more general information related to library support services, please navigate to:
This guide, "Copyright Considerations for Shifting Courses from In-Person to Online During the COVID-19 Crisis" is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial License. It was adapted from:
"Copyright Considerations for the Harvard Community in Shifting Courses from In-Person to Online During the COVID-19 Crisis" by Harvard Library Office for Scholarly Communication, Copyright First Responders, © 2020 President and Fellows of Harvard College, licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. Adapted with modifications from the original “Rapidly shifting your course from in-person to online” by Nancy Sims, University of Minnesota Libraries, and licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial License.