Copyright & Instruction

Copyright & Instruction

Using Materials in the Classroom

Audiovisual materials, websites, outside books, and firsthand sources are all examples of materials you might want to use in the classroom to liven up your lessons. However, it is important to keep in mind that most of these items are protected under copyright laws. As such, professors need to have solid background knowledge of copyright. If you need to review the fundamentals of copyright law further, be sure to visit The Course Materials and Copyright for Professors Library Guide.

Section 110 of copyright law is an exception that addresses classroom use of copyrighted material. This section makes it legal to use materials for teaching if:

  • The class is face-to-face and located in a classroom or similar educational setting (see a bit more information about the TEACH Act here for distance education settings, but note that the University of Illinois does not currently operate under the conditions required by the TEACH Act)
  • The school is a non-profit institution
  • The school legally owns a copy of the material being shared
  • The information is necessary to the course

Classroom Management Systems

Classroom Management Systems (CMS), such as Compass, permit professors to place course materials online for only their registered students.  If the material you wish to access is licensed by the library (such as a journal article), the best practice would be to link to the library page so that students directly access the course reading through the library (because this does not require the professor to upload a new copy of the document or article to the CMS.  Of course, if the item needed for the course is a book or is not licensed by the library, the professor may wish to engage in a fair use analysis.

For more information about creating online CMS readings for your class, please consult this webpage titled “Course Materials and Copyright for Professors.”


Coursepacks are similar to course reserves in that they are collections of materials put together for a class. Unlike course reserves, which are electronic, coursepacks are a physical collection of articles, stories, book chapters, or other text resources that the professor has selected and had bound for his or her students. In the past, coursepacks were assumed to be fair use, much like course reserves, however, fair use analysis must be done for coursepacks like any other material.  For more assistance with creating a coursepack, please contact Ketty Duvall at the University Bookstore at

University Policies for Faculty

The university has a variety of resources for faculty dealing with copyright and fair use:

Copyright Resources for Your Students

While teaching, you may find that your students need information or have questions about copyright. Below are some resources designed particularly for students that may be helpful:


The Technology, Education and Copyright Harmonization (TEACH) Act works to put the use of copyrighted materials used for distance or online education within the same realm as materials used in a physical classroom. It allows professors to transmit copyrighted information to students without the copyright holder’s permission if a certain set of requirements are met.  The University of Illinois does not currently operate under the conditions set by the TEACH Act.  For more information, see the American Library Association’s webpage detailing the requirements of the TEACH Act, or look through a TEACH Act checklist.