We have recently received a number of questions on how copyright will apply as we move to online teaching on a broader scale during the COVID-19 pandemic.   We are aware that, although our students have purchased the books and materials used in the new online presentations, they have not returned to campus after spring break and do not have access to them.  

The University has adopted and posted Copyright Guidelines that address fair use.  Our Office of General Counsel webpage has additional resources on copyright, including use pf video transmission outside the classroom setting. 

A number of universities with copyright specialists on staff have recently shared guidance entitled Fair Use and Emergency Remote Teaching and Research.  The Catholic University of America condones these guidelines and encourages faculty and staff to read them and comply with them as you prepare to post materials online. The University will indemnify you for any actions consistent with the guidance herein. 

Questions and Answers

Q. Can we photocopy textbooks required for the class so that our students have access to the material for the online presentations of the class? 

A. Yes. This would be permissible under copyright law and fair use, given the current situations presented by COVID-19.  Our students have already purchased these books once, and there is no need to ask them to repurchase the same material.  The understanding would be that this material will be taken down at the end of the semester or when the pandemic is over and classes can resume on campus.  

Q. How much of a textbook can I copy? 

A. The ideal would be to post only that portion of the textbook that is needed for the purpose of teaching the course online. The material posted should be restricted access for the students and instructors or teaching assistants in the particular course. Adding a watermark that the materials are copyrighted and available only during the COVID-19 pandemic limits permitted use. 

Q.  Is assistance in scanning/copying available?

A.  The University Libraries staff can scan textbook chapters and email faculty with the url he/she can put into a Blackboard course.  The way this will work is that the faculty member will bring his/her copy of the textbook to the Circulation Desk in Mullen Library, fill out a brief paper form  (course number, chapters to be scanned, email address, etc,.), insert the form in the textbook, and leave both with a member of library staff.  They can scan multiple chapters, but we discourage requests to scan entire textbooks because of high demands during on-campus staff shortages.

Other options (most very time consuming) would include: ordering ebook versions if available; the instructor ‘s changing texts to one we already have online; or the instructor’s  changing to an available Open Education Resource. WRLC recently joined the Open Textbook Network. 

Q. What about streaming full length videos to students remotely? 

A. The Office of General Counsel has issued Guidance for Use of Video for
Class Instruction. This guidance is still valid. See also the section on DMCA and Video in
Fair Use and Emergency Remote Teaching and Research referenced above. 

Q. What if my question is not addressed by these materials?

A. Please contact us at cua-ogc@cua.edu for assistance.  We also welcome your sharing resources you have found helpful.  We are collaborating with the Provost’s Office and Libraries to coordinate this as a consolidated resource.