This specific page is to help you make a fair use evaluation when using a copyrighted educational resource. The most common resource used is an academic textbook, so the example given below uses a textbook to illustrate its fairness or lack of fairness.
For a general review of the four factors of fair use (purpose, nature, amount, and potential market harm), please see this PDF overview.
If you wish to place a single chapter on reserve for your students through Canvas, Virginia Tech University Libraries has a policy which allows you to place the photocopied individual chapter on reserve. Visit Copyright Policy for Reserves: Photocopied Articles and Book Chapters page for more details.
U.S. copyright lawsuits have historically sided in favor of educational uses. However, this does not automatically give educators a free pass to use whatever they want and as much as they want when uploading copyrighted materials to online learning management systems, such as Canvas. What this generally means is that instructors can use limited and reasonable portions* of educational materials (e.g., textbooks) for the purposes of completing their educational objectives.
Consider the following when making a fair use evaluation of copyrighted educational materials / textbooks:
Let's look at a typical scenario of an instructor who wants to use a specific textbook in her course. There are no electronic alternatives, such as an openly licensed resource or a library-licensed e-resource she could use to realistically replace portions of or the entire textbook for her course. This textbook is really the only resource that works for this instructor for this specific course. Unfortunately, due to the pandemic, course reserves have restricted access, since all books must be quarantined for three days after being checked in, so the instructor is worried about students having access to the textbook. Therefore, she has decided to rely on fair use to incorporate the textbook into her course on Canvas. She evaluates the four factors:
Please note that all information provided here is merely information and does not substitute as legal advice.
*Note: "Reasonable portions" is not a defined amount. A portion should be the portion you need to complete your objective without affecting the market of the original copyrighted work (i.e., not merely duplicating the original work and its purpose). In some lawsuits, such as the fair use case involving the biography of President Ford, a small portion was used, but it was considered to be the "heart of the work" and thus affected or harmed the market for the original work (i.e., people read the portion published in TIME magazine about Ford's pardon of Nixon, and thus, it was determined that there were fewer sales of the book).