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Copyright Reference Guide For Educators

Alternatives to Fair Use

There is a growing movement in technology, research, and education to allow and encourage free access to information and open collaboration. Instead of navigating the complex copyright laws and fair use doctrine, educators can take advantage of platforms such as Open Educational Resources (OER), Creative Commons (CC), open access (OA), and public domain materials; as well as Library licensed materials. Materials published under CC and OA license are protected by the U.S. copyright law but the licensing structures allow users to use and share those works without having to request permissions or make fair use determinations.

Library Resources

Using library-licensed resources for online courses avoids the need to perform fair use analyses or to seek permission from rightholders. When using library-licensed resources, faculty should use the permalink to the resource provided in library catalog search so that off-campus students can access the resource.

Electronic Resources at SMCCD Libraries that include scholarly databases, online journals, e-books, newspapers, magazines, videos and image databases, and reference databases. These resources are governed by license agreements, most of which allow the licensed material to be used for educational purposes by "authorized users." Authorized users are typically defined as SMCCD students, faculty, and staff. Most license agreements allow authorized users to:

  • Download, print, and save single copies of items for their personal use
  • Incorporate links to items in electronic coursepacks, reserves and course management systems, and instructor websites
  • Provide single print or electronic copies of individual items to other authorized users for noncommercial educational purposes (including to each student in a class at URL)
  • Provide single print or electronic copies of individual items to third-party colleagues for scholarly, educational, or research use

Other Alternatives

  • Open Educational Resources (OER) are free learning materials that are licensed, often under a Creative Commons license, to allow users to retain copies of OER content, as well as reuse, revise, remix and redistribute the content. OERs include textbooks, videos, tests, entire courses, course modules, and syllabi. To locate OERs, visit the Creative Commons Compendium of OER or visit the CSM database Faculty Select to search open resources
  • Creative Commons (CC) is a nonprofit organization that enables the sharing and use of creativity and knowledge through free legal tools. It uses free legal tools (such as creative commons licenses) to provide a simple, standardized way to give the public permission to use and share your work. For more information, visit Skyline Colleges Creative Commons licenses.
  • Open Access (OA) license allows users to have immediate, unrestricted, digital access to content published under that OA license. To locate open access resources, visit CSM's OER/ZTC page
  • Public Domain works may be used without seeking the copyright holder’s permission or paying a license fee because the content owner's exclusive intellectual property rights to that content may have been expired, forfeited, waived, and/or deemed inapplicable.

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