Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.


This guide contains information (but not legal advice) about aspects of copyright most commonly encountered by the students, faculty, or staff of institutions of higher education.

Copyright and materials used in the classroom

In The Classroom

Since 1976, Section 110(1) of the Copyright Act has included a provision allowing performances and displays of copyrighted material in the face-to-face classroom setting. The one condition is that the copyrighted material being displayed or performed originates from a legally obtained copy. It is legal for a philosophy professor to show the Three Stooges' film Goodbye, Mr. Chumps in a classroom setting if the film was obtained through such means as purchasing a legal DVD copy, using a legal streaming service such as Netflix, or by borrowing from a library. However, it is illegal for the professor to show the film if the source is, for example, a video illegally posted to YouTube or a bootleg DVD copy. At UC Merced, Kaltura provides instructors with a mechanism for showing films without violating copyright. 

Distance Education (the TEACH Act)

The rules are different, and more rigorous, when copyrighted materials are shared in ways that pose threats to the rights of copyright holders. This includes copyrighted materials that have been transmitted beyond the face-to-face setting, uploaded to websites, or are easily downloaded or copied by students and other users. To learn the details of what is allowed under the Teach Act, visit the American Library Association's webpage "Copyright: Distance Education and the TEACH Act." 

It is important to note that Fair Use applies even in distance education and may allow legal use of copyrighted material beyond what is allowed under the TEACH Act. (See also: UC Fair Use for Teaching and Research.)

Course resources

UC Merced Library's Course Resources service allows instructors to make course-related materials available to their students in a variety of ways:

  • Electronic supplemental course materials available through CatCourses. 
  • Audio/Visual resources available in via Kaltura
  • Books or print works available to students for a two-hour, library-use-only loan.

See the Library's Course Resources page for complete information. 

Instructors can also make use of open educational resources: textbooks and other educational materials which students can use at no cost. 

Copyright and your course materials

Any U.C. employee who teaches will want to become familiar with the UC policy on Ownership of Course Materials