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Resources for instructors

What is a copyright?

A copyright is “the exclusive legal right, given to an originator or an assignee to print, publish, perform, film, or record literary, artistic, or musical material, and to authorize others to do the same.” The copyright was introduced to the US by James Madison in 1787 to “secure to literary authors their copyrights for a limited time.” Traditionally this was a term of 50 years or 70 years but extensions have been known to be granted. Copyright is a very complex and varying section of US law.

You can read a brief introduction and history of the US Copyright Office.

Please see the ASU policy on copyright and copyrighted materials. http://www.asu.edu/copyright/

ASU Computer, Internet, and Electronic Communications Policy http://www.asu.edu/aad/manuals/acd/acd125.html

What does copyright apply to?



    Copyrights apply to many things such as:

  • Written works such as books, stories, journals, articles, and HTML coding (computer programs)
  • Pictures, images, artwork, or graphics
  • Music or song lyrics
  • Architectural blueprints
  • Scripts for television, plays, screenplays, or movies
  • Audiovisual recordings (films, videos)
  • Sound recordings (songs, CDs, MP3s)
  • Web site content, design, or graphics

What is copyright infringement?

As stated by the U.S. Copyright Office, “Copyright infringement occurs when a copyrighted work is reproduced, distributed, performed, publicly displayed, or made into a derivative work without the permission of the copyright owner.”

As an instructor, how do I avoid copyright infringement when using audio, video, and images in my ASU Online course?

The tools listed out below will help you understand the protections and the stipulations for those protections offered by the TEACH Act to allow you to use copyrighted materials in your course.

TEACH Act – 1 Hour Seminar
seminar slidesASU Online offers an in-person 1 hour seminar that is open to all faculty/staff of ASU on a quarterly basis. Aspects covered during the seminar are: – Difference between Fair Use and TEACH Act – Benefits of the TEACH Act – Stipulations of the TEACH Act – ASU Online Implementation of the TEACH Act

This seminar is currently offered on a quarterly basis as an in-person 1 hour seminar. Please check this website listing of ASU Online workshops and seminars to sign up to attend the next offering. ASU Online Workshops and Seminars You can download the seminar slides in PDF format.

Audio, Video, and Images in Your Course
The new media studio portion of ASU Online deals with digital media such as audio, video, and images. Please consult your ASU Online Instructional Designer if you wish to use copyrighted text in your course. Of course, using any text from written works in academia without the proper citation is also known as plagiarism. Similarly, you must list the copyright holder for all instances of copyrighted media to show who is the owner of the creative work.

Using Copyrighted Materials in Your Course

ASU Online ascribes to the TEACH Act and its stated objectives for using copyrighted materials as course materials. Any time that you use copyrighted materials in your course they must be cited with the notice below. The following is an example using the Arizona Board of Regents as the copyright holder – replace the holder and year with the correct information: Copyright © 2012 Arizona Board of Regents. This material is copyrighted material and is not to be used outside of this course.

Remember that this notice is required for all uses of media such as videos, audio, and images that you use under the TEACH Act.


The most common types of copyright infringement by instructors:

1. Decorative Images from the Web

Do not use images from the Internet that are not directly related to course/lesson materials. Uses such as this will also be referred to as “decorative” usage of images when the image is not directly related to course materials.

Example: In my instructor introduction I relay that I am an musician in my spare time and post a picture of Picasso’s “The Old Guitarist” to depict that idea. This would be an incorrect usage of media as the use of the image is not directly related to teaching material. On the other hand, if this is an art history course and we are discussing the “Blue Period” of Picasso, then this would be seen as a direct correlation to course materials.

Recommendation: Do not go to Google or use other search engines to search for images. Use purchased stock images, images from the Creative Commons, or images that you own the copyright for. See Resources section on this page.

2. Requesting a whole video for encoding when only a portion is needed

There are very rare instances where a whole video may be used under protections of the TEACH Act. For the most part you should expect to use portions of the video and make sure that the portion you want to use is tied directly to a teaching aspect or learning objective.

Example: It could be seen that perhaps a portion of the video regarding instances of film technique could be used without requiring the distribution of the entire film, rather clips or portions of the film will work to illustrate the point.

Recommendations: Always seek permission or a license to use the portion of the video from that video’s copyright holder. If you want to use the whole video, request that from the copyright holder. If permission and a license can not be obtained, request and use the required amount to relay your teaching point/lesson/objective.

Resources for finding images

There are a variety of ways of obtaining images for use in your online courses including taking your own photographs or creating your own images in an image editor such as Photoshop. Below you will see the most popular ways to obtain images for use in your online course.