Office of the General Counsel

Material Performed or Displayed in Class without Copyright Holder Permission

Face-To-Face Instruction or Secure Classroom Transmissions

Your first step is to determine whether media you wish to utilize is in the public domain. Not all content is protected by copyright. Works in the public domain can be used for any purpose, and primarily include the following:

  • Most works created by the federal government.
  • Most works published before 1923.
  • Facts, ideas, formulas (not otherwise protected as trade secrets).

As a general rule, however, most content is protected, particularly media and most images. Unless the content is "open access" material (content created expressly for unrestricted worldwide use), or is quite old, assume the content is protected by copyright. Keep in mind, the absence of either actual copyright registration or the omission of a © symbol does not mean the material is not protected by copyright law. The Copyright Act requires neither notice nor actual registration to be entitled to protection. Registration only entitles the copyright holder to statutory fines and penalties from prospective infringers rather than a showing of actual damages for non-registered works.

Copyrighted Media

If protected/copyrighted, then the following rules apply to use of audio, images, or audio visual works for use in the classroom or for transmission over secure systems (these guidelines do not apply to media to be utilized for course packs, or publication on personal websites):

A. A copyrighted item may be performed or displayed in class without copyright holder permission under the following conditions:

1. Media is to be displayed or performed by, or under supervision of, UNCW faculty or adjunct.

2. Used only for a class that is part of UNCW's regularly constituted course offerings.

3. Displayed or performed only in the classroom and only for students enrolled in the class.

4. Directly relevant to content of the course - not entertainment or personal research.

5. Copyright notice will appear or students informed work may be copyright protected.

6. No laws broken in the making or acquisition of the work.

7. The above rules are effective only if the work is not a program recorded off television.

Note: If all the previous conditions apply, short segments of the work can be manipulated for the purpose of study and criticism, as long as students are clearly told what has been altered.

B. A UNCW faculty member or adjunct professor may link to copyrighted media that is already on the Internet under the following conditions:

1. Link provided only to students enrolled in the class.

2. Class must be part of UNCW's regularly constituted course offerings.

3. Link will only be transmitted through a secure, password-protected system like Blackboard.

4. Media on the site directly relevant to course content - not entertainment or personal research.

5. Copyright notice appears on the site or students informed work may be copyright protected.

6. Media on the site has been legally made and acquired.

7. Site does not require users to enter a user name and password.

8. Site does not restrict linking (e.g. "Terms of Use" section).