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Copyright Information Center

Guide to using copyrighted material in course content at Hofstra University.


What is a copyright?
A copyright is the grant of protection by the laws of the United States to the authors of “original works” including literary, dramatic, musical, artistic, architectural, and certain other intellectual works, and is available for both published and unpublished works. An owner has the exclusive right to authorize others to reproduce the work; create derivative works; distribute copies of the work; perform the copyrighted work publicly, display the work publicly, and if it is a sound recording, perform the work publicly.

How long does a copyright last?
Short answer: a long time! Copyrights in the U.S. are in effect for the life of the author, plus 70 years.

Isn't all educational use "fair use"?
Some uses of copyrighted material in the university setting may fall under the doctrine of fair use, but many do not.

Since Canvas content is password-protected, does it fall under fair use?
Some uses of copyrighted material in Canvas may fall under the doctrine of fair use; a fair use analysis should be conducted for individual items. Additionally, Hofstra University Library has licenses for a lot of content you may want to use.

Do I need permission to use things I find on the internet?
As a best practice, link to internet content rather than downloading it and distributing it.

Can I link to YouTube videos in my Canvas class?
Yes. There is some great stuff available on YouTube. It's a good idea to consider if that content on YouTube has been placed there by the appropriate rightsholder and not illegally uploaded, because unauthorized content is subject to takedown at any time. You wouldn't want to assign something just to have it disappear.

Can I have my students view a full length popular video in the classroom?
Yes, showing the video in class is permissible under the face-to-face teaching exemption.

Can I just rip that DVD and put it in Canvas for my students?
The Library will be happy to assist you in obtaining licensed video content. Hofstra University Library provides access to over 100,000 streaming video titles covering a wide range of disciplines. We even license classic feature films (both English and foreign language). Here is more information on video.

Why can't anyone just give me a definite yes or no when I ask a copyright question?
There is rarely a simple answer when it comes to copyright. Many situations are unique and require consideration. The Library provides content covered by licenses, content that is open access, content from our electronic resources, content covered by fair use ... we strive to make the materials you and your students need available in a convenient format.

Who do I call for help at Hofstra?
I am Sarah McCleskey, Head of Resource and Collection Services. Contact me via email at or call me at 516-463-5076.  I'm here to help!

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