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Scholarship of Teaching and Learning

The Scholarship of Teaching and Learning is the study of teaching and learning processes and how they relate to one another to enhance student learning and improve the quality of higher education.

Large letter c in a circle representing the copyright sign, drawn in with a graffiti blue spray on a cream colored wall. The left side of the circle is much more intense than the right one thus showing the writing direction. The wall has a small square puncture and several other gray shapes. From the left side there are coming some discrete rays of sunset light.This section will provide information on:


Copyright, Public Domain, Creative Commons, and Fair Use Basics

Copyrighted Materials & Teaching

Disciplinary Guidelines for Copyright in Research and Teaching




Image Credit:  "Large copyright graffiti sign on cream colored wall" by Horia VarlanCC BY 2.0

Copyright Overview

The purpose of copyright in the United States:

"To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries." U.S. Constitution (Article I, Section 8, Clause 8)

As of 1978, US copyright is an opt-out system. That means that you do NOT need to register your work with the U.S. Copyright Office in order for your work to be protected.  Any original work in a tangible medium of expression is automatically granted copyright. 

copyright law in the US protects Books, maps, charts (1790) Historical and other Prints (1802) Dramatic works (1856) Photographs (1865) Pictorial, graphic, and sculptural works (1870) Foreign Works (1891) Commercial Art (1903) Motion Pictures (1912) Sound recordings (1972) Pantomimes and choreographic works (1976) Computer Programs (1984) Architectural works (1990) 

The Copyright Act of 1976 grants Four Exclusive Rights to Copyright Holders:

  • Reproduce (Copy) the Work

  • Distribute (Sell or Share) the Work

  • Create Adaptations (Derivative Works)

  • Perform or Display the Work Publicly

Image Credits: Copyright Law Protects by Nora Hyman, with permission.

The Public Domain contains any creative work not protected by Copyright. 

Works can enter the Public Domain when:

  • the copyright expires
  • the copyright owner did not follow previous copyright renewal rules
  • the copyright owner waives their copyright by dedicating their work to the public domain
  • copyright law does not apply (ideas, facts, federal government works...)


Purposes of the Public Domain

  • Make Government Information Available 
  • Allow for Scholarship
  • Support Creativity
  • Preserve the Past

Finding Public Domain Content:

Graphic showing that journal and online publications such as those in scribd, internet archive, PLOS and image and video sharing sites like wikimedia commons, flickr, and youtube use creative commons licenses. 

Creative Commons introduces a standard way to indicate the copyright rights and restrictions you're applying to your work. Licenses are clear, with easy to identify logos that attach to the works themselves. 

This allows people to protect the rights they value but release the ones they don't need.

Fair Use is judged on a case-by-case basis and not every educational or classroom use qualifies as fair use.

The Four Factors of Fair Use are:

  1. Purpose and character of your use
    • Leans towards Fair Use: educational, critical, transformative, nonprofit
  2. Nature of the copyrighted work
    • Leans towards Fair Use: published, factual rather than creative
  3. Amount and substantiality of the portion taken
    • Leans towards Fair Use: small portion, only the amount needed for the particular use
  4. Effect of the use upon the potential market.
    • Leans towards Fair Use: does not impact creator's income, not possible to obtain permission for the work 

Can I use this...?

What materials can you copy, perform, distribute in the classroom?

  • Public Domain or Non-copyrightable works Including (but not limited to)
    • U.S. federal government works unless created by a contractor or non-governmental agency (state government works may or may not be public domain)
    • Facts
    • Works where the Copyright has expired
  • Works where licenses or contracts permit classroom use
    • Library resources are covered through licenses (please check terms of service for the database)
  • Materials that allow non-profit educational use without permission
    • Open Education Resources
    • Works in institutional repositories (check the Rights section)
    • Some Journal allow non-profit educational use (check the Copyright page)
  • Works with Creative Commons Licenses
  • Works if your use meets the Classroom of Fair Use Exemptions
  • Works where you have received permission from the copyright owner

Online Instruction

In online courses, the classroom exemptions from copyright do not apply the same way they do when teaching in person courses. Consider the following, as informed by fair use, when providing resources to your students:

  • Limit the amount you are using
  • Limit access to only the students in your class and consider the enrollment size (5 students vs. 500)
  • Limit access to the copyrighted works to only one semester, disable access when no longer needed and avoid reusing over multiple semesters
  • Inform students of copyright status of materials and prohibit downloading or discourage distribution of the materials. 

Instead, try to link to licensed or legally hosted copyright materials. Examples: link to TTU Libraries resources (articles, Ebooks, streaming media), link to lawfully posted resources in institutional repositories, copyright owner's web presences, streaming platform like YouTube.  

In general, students own the copyrights to the works they create in their courses including submitted course assignments and presentations. Student work should be treated in the same respectful manner as works created by other types of copyright owners. 

TTU sets out the policy for intellectual property in TTU OP 74.04:

"It is the intent of this policy to foster the traditional freedoms of the TTU faculty, staff, and students in matters of publication and invention, through a fair and reasonable balance of the equities among creators, sponsors, and TTU."

Best Practices and Guidelines