New Fair Use Guidance for Online Educators

New Fair Use Guidance for Online Educators


Online instruction has driven a lot of change in higher education, and the courts arenít always quick to keep up.

However, recent court cases have grappled with the issue of copyright in distance education.

While there is little clear guidance on what is legal and what isnít, the courts are starting to draw some lines so that institutions can determine for themselves what is permissible and what isnít under copyright law.

This Magna White Paper, New Fair Use Guidance for Online Educators, explores and interprets recent court cases and offers institutions a framework to use in making their own copyright determinations.

Topics Covered

This white paper reviews current lawsuits, analyzes the application of transformative use doctrines to online distance education, presents codes of best practices, and discusses various pragmatics and practicalities pertaining to copyright law.

Specifically, New Fair Use Guidance for Online Educators contains invaluable resources including the following:

  • Analyses of three lawsuits that could very well establish widespread precedents for distance education copyright and fair use law
  • Current codes of best practices, which have replaced old fair use guidelines and provide suggestions on how institutions might use materials in acceptable ways
  • Options for designing and delivering distance education courses that comply with copyright and fair use laws
  • Summaries of key rulings that illustrate the current legal interpretations of various issues of copyright and fair use law
  • A vast list of answers to peer questions on copyright and fair use topics


The white paper also contains a list of resources to guide further research or study.

This white paper will:

  • Bring readers up to speed on current copyright and fair use law
  • Give them guiding principles to use when making determinations about how to use materials in their courses
  • Eliminate doubt that limits options and hinders learning


Ultimately, copyright is not just a topic for in-house attorneys or legal counsel. When administrators, instructional designers, and instructors themselves have a better handle on current copyright issues and interpretations, there is less need to err on the side of omission just to be safe. When they know the law, they can teach more confidently and utilize educational resources more effectively.

This white paper is specifically beneficial for administrators, instructional designers, and instructors. Awareness of current copyright and fair use law enables instructors to teach confidently and effectively.


Fear of lawsuits is a powerful motivator for many of us, but the potential legal risks need not deter instructors from incorporating relevant and compelling resources into their online distance courses. Awareness of current copyright and fair use law enables instructors to teach confidently and effectively, and they will find all the answers they need in New Fair Use Guidance for Online.

Product Code: ND13AA

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