Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

Online Copyright Compliance Guidelines for Trinity Faculty

The ubiquity and ease of use of web publishing resources and course management systems (CMS, including TLearn) has created the need for increased vigilance against inadvertent infringement of copyright.

TLearn Copyright Guidelines for Faculty

There are very rarely simple answers when it comes to copyright, even in the field of education.  Neither the Classroom Exemptions, TEACH Act, or Fair Use provisions within copyright law give blanket protection to instructors to copy, post, or distribute anything they want for educational purposes.  Not every instance of copying is OK just because it's for educational purposes, and Trinity faculty assume responsibility for evaluating material placed on their TLearn pages or university-hosted web pages for copyright compliance.

So what reproductions can be legally placed on TLearn, and when can faculty know they're "in the clear"?  Again, there is never a simple answer besides, "It depends...".

But there are some guiding principles that can certainly illuminate this dim area.  Mostly these are based on either the TEACH Act or the Fair Use provisions of 17 U.S.C.  Before making reproductions of copyrighted content to use on TLearn or a course-related web page, faculty should consider:

1.  Relevance of the material

Is this material directly germane to my curricular goals?  Is it connected to my syllabus in a meaningful way and does it directly support my pedagogical aims?  Do I have a strong justification for its use for educational purposes?

2.  Amount being reproduced

Have I selected the minimal amount possible of the work to use?  eg, Have I opted to use only a single scanned chapter from a book, rather than multiple chapters, or worse, the entire book?

3.  Access control

Is the material password-protected, and only accessible to myself, my students, and system administrators?  Will I stress to my students the importance of not redistributing the content?

4.  Timely removal of content

Am I posting the material online for only the absolute minimal amount of time necessary to achieve my teaching goals?  ie, As soon as that portion of the class readings is over, will the content be removed from the course page, and/or will the course page itself be deactivated?

5.  Possible substitutions

Is this the only available appropriate material for me to use?  Could there be an Open Educational Resource I could substitute?  Could I find something in the public domain (ie, something that is copyright-free) or carries a broad Creative Commons license that could substitute for this work?  Could I link to the work if it is hosted online somewhere else, and thereby not have to create a digital reproduction of my own?

6.  Addressing my concerns

Have I consulted with my library liaison or with Jason Hardin regarding any questions, including finding alternate sources or procedures for royalty payments when necessary?

The more of the above questions that can be confidently addressed, the more defensible the usage of the copyrighted content.

Nothing on this webpage is intended as an institutional policy, but merely as guiding principles to help ensure copyright compliance across the university.