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This guide is intended to aid members of the Iona community in making decisions about the academic use and distribution of copyrighted materials in various formats, including articles, video, books, etc. Please contact Casey Hampsey (x2449) or Tony Iodice (x2347) for more information.

The guide focuses on instances where copyright permission or payment to the copyright holder for use of work may be exempted. These instances include: Fair Use, Public Domain content, Creative Commons content, and content that falls within the limitations of the TEACH Act.

The confines of digital sharing is explained using the 4 factors of Fair Use. The digital sharing of a portion another person's copyrighted work over a site like Blackboard is bound to specific restrictions which are outlined in this guide. 

How This Guide is Organized

This guide is organized in different sections to focus on different guidelines that pertain to the use of copyrighted resources in the classroom.

  • Fair Use. We first discuss Fair Use, which involves the utilization of portions of a copyrighted work for teaching purposes without the need for permission.
  • Public Domain. We then talk about works in the public domain, which are not under copyright and can be used freely. We provide a list of media in the public domain for faculty to use as part of their teaching.
  • Creative Commons. Creative Commons allows copyright holders to grant permission to educators to use content without permission as long as they adhere to the restrictions of the specific CC license. 
  • TEACH Act. We outline what qualifications an institution may need for instructors to offer a performance or display of copyrighted materials in a fully distance education course. 
  • Digital Sharing. We outline what portions of copyrighted work can be shared via a Blackboard course site without permission. Please note that these are guidelines only. 

Copyright versus Plagiarism?

What is the difference between copyright infringement and plagiarism?

Plagiarism is an unethical act of academic dishonesty. Copyright infringement can be illegal. Copyright infringement involves utilizing a copyrighted work beyond what is acceptable as "fair use" without the permission of the copyright holder. 



Intellectual property covers copyright, trademarks, trade secrets, and patents. This guide will focus on copyrighted works as intellectual property and how instructors may use or may not use portions of copyrighted work in the classroom environment.

Copyright protects 8 categories of original works
Writing Photography
Movies Music
Software Painting
Dance Architecture
What cannot be copyrighted? FACTS
Addresses and phone numbers Weights and Measures
Dates Recipes
Names Titles

You cannot copyright an idea until it is in a fixed, tangible form. This can be a digital form. Once your idea is in a fixed, tangible form, it is automatically copyrighted and the copyright holder has exclusive rights. 

What rights does a copyright holder have?:

The right to make copies of the original work The right to distribute copies
The right to create derivative works or adaptations of the original work The right to perform a copyrighted work such as a stage play
The right to display the copyrighted work publicly such as a motion picture or a sculpture The right to digitally distribute a copyrighted work

The exceptions which allow for the reproduction and redistribution of copyrighted materials for academic purposes are outlined in Section 107 of US Code Title 17: Limitations on Exclusive Rights for Fair Use. As defined, “fair use is any copying of copyrighted material done for a limited and "transformative" purpose such as to comment upon, criticize or parody a copyrighted work.” (Source: Stanford University Libraries. 2010. “Chapter 9: What is Fair Use?” Copyright and Fair Use.)

1. the purpose and character of your use
2. the nature of the copyrighted work 
3. the amount and substantiality of the portion taken, and 
4. the effect of the use upon the potential market.

There are guidelines and best practices to consider.  This guide attempts to outline the most pertinent of these considerations.

How do I know if a work is copyrighted? 

After March 1989, a work is copyrighted as soon as it is created in a tangible, fixed format. It does not need a copyright notice to be protected by US Copyright Law. For all other works, check out our section on Public Domain. 


The information contained in this guide should not be interpreted as a legal opinion or authorization for any specific action.