Copyright jigsaw puzzleUsing audio, video, images, articles, and books in your teaching

Link to Licensed Materials in the Library Catalog

Search the Duke University Library catalog for books, videos, and journals for which the library has already purchased online access.  These materials can be accessed with Duke University credentials.  A number of Research Guides can help with locating these resources and locating library experts to assist in their navigation.

Find Free-to-Use Materials

Use Exceptions that Balance Rights

The Copyright Act allows instructors to use copyrighted materials without permission if certain exceptions apply.  The exceptions apply in the physical classroom and the virtual classroom.  They are often referred to as Fair Use (Section 107), the exception for face-to-face classroom teaching (Section 110(1)), and the TEACH Act, an exception for use of certain materials in course management systems (Section 110(2).

Contact course reserves specialists for further information and assistance with e-reserves: (Perkins Library); (Lilly Library/video); or (Music Library).

The Flexible Exception: Fair Use

Fair Use may be available when using materials that are still in copyright. It is a flexible exception that allows socially valuable uses of copyrighted material.

Four factors are balanced to determine fair use:

  1. The purpose of the use should be for non-profit education. If the use adds to the original in some creative way (like commenting on a poem or making a parody), the fair use argument is stronger.
  2. Factual material is more susceptible to fair use; creative work like music and art gets stronger protection. Unpublished work also gets more protection
  3. Use only that amount of the original work that is necessary to accomplish the educational purpose.
  4. Avoid uses that substitute for purchasing available copies; damaging the market for the original counts heavily against fair use.

Fair use applies in many situations, but its application is never certain. A good faith decision in each situation is important.  Members of the Duke community may schedule a consultation to address specific questions.

Fair Use Resources

Face-to-face teaching – Section 110(1)

  • Allows performance or display of protected material in a face-to-face teaching setting.
  • Must be in a classroom and at a non-profit educational institution.
  • Does NOT allow copying. This is an exception to the exclusive rights of performance and display, but not the right of reproduction.
  • Copying may still be allowed by fair use, however.
  • Performance and display in the classroom must employ a legally obtained copy – no “bootleg” copy is eligible for this exception, but borrowed copies are OK.

“Transmission” to registered students – Section 110(2), a.k.a. The TEACH Act

  • Allows digital copies in course management systems under a specific set of conditions.
  • Text and images may be transmitted (displayed) in amounts comparable to in-class teaching.
  • Music and video may be used in portions; entire songs may be used if “non-dramatic.”
  • Access must be restricted to students registered in the course, and notice that the material is protected must be given.
  • Technological measures to prevent the material from being retained after the course is over or copied to others are required. Streaming of music and video is a good way to meet this requirement.
  • The institution should have policies and educational programs about copyright in place to take advantage of this exception.

For more information about the TEACH Act, see the TEACH Act Toolkit from Louisiana State University.


If you need assistance understanding how copyright and fair use might apply to your specific case (and you are a member of the Duke community), contact us at or consult with your Duke librarian, who may have received copyright training under the Duke Copyright Consultants program.

[ Copyright jigsaw puzzle image by Horia Varlan, used under CC BY license. ]