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USFSP Library Continuity Guide: Resources for Remote Learning


Is the material you want to use copyrighted?

The first step in applying Fair Use guidelines is to determine if the work you wish to use is copyrighted.  Copyrighted materials may include media, images, software, printed works, music, performances, and more. Many resources are available that do not require permission for use in the classroom or that have pre-set conditions for use:

Materials that may be used:

  • Works in the Public Domain (including government publications and works no longer covered by copyright)
  • Factual data (as long as it is not organized in a creative, copyrighted manner)
  • Works covered by a Creative Commons license (with proper attribution: read more at )

Lack of a copyright statement or symbol does not mean that the work isn't copyrighted.

Determining Fair Use

For materials that are copyrighted, use in the classroom may or may not be permitted. Applying copyright guidelines can be tricky and decisions are often not clear-cut but Fair Use guidelines werre created to be flexible. The resources on this page are not intended as legal advice but should provide information on what may be considered.  Contact information for USF General Counsel is available on the USF Help tab on this page.  Ultimately, you as the professor will need to make a decision on whether you feel Fair Use applies to your selection of materials in the classroom. To help guide your informed decision, consider the following:

How will the material be used? 

  • If it is for non-profit, educational use rather than commercial gain, Fair Use is more likely to apply.

The nature of the material.

  • Factual materials are more likely to support Fair Use than creative works. 
  • Materials that are consumable (workbooks, tests, etc.) normally don't support Fair Use

How much of the work will you be using?

  • Smaller portions and those that have direct application to your educational objectives are more likely to support Fair Use.
  • Small portions that encompass the main substance or "heart" of the work may not support Fair Use.

Effect of your use on the commercial market.

  • Reproductions that impact current or future sales of the work are unlikely to support Fair Use.

For additional useful tips on Fair Use, see Columbia University Libraries' useful discussion.

Fair Use Checklist

Options if you don't feel fair use applies

If you feel that use of a work does not fall within Fair Use guidelines, consider the following options. A USFSP librarian can help you pursue these possibilities.

  • Consider using an Open Education Resource (OER) instead.  OER collections are growing. Visit our library guide to OER resources. A USFSP librarian will be happy to help you locate possible OER resources.
  • Provide an authenticated link to an electronic article or book that has already been purchased by the USF Libraries. 
  • Locate materials that are licensed for open use.  Look for Creative Commons symbols. To locate images, use a database such as Pixabay to locate works that have been licensed for use by others.  Our library guide on locating images within search engines or our list of image databases provides additional tips.
  • Seek permission from the copyright holder. 

Fair Use and the Arts