Copyright law protects educational use of copyrighted materials in specific circumstances. But within those circumstances, there is broad permission for use of materials. The Classroom Use Exemption (17 U.S. Code § 110) allows instructors and students to perform or display copyrighted works if these criteria are met:
This exemption does not apply to online or hybrid instruction or to making copies of materials and distributing them, either in person or through an online course management system like Blackboard. It only applies to works displayed or performed in person.
The TEACH Act (Technology, Education, and Copyright Harmonization Act, 2002, Section 110(2)) allows instructors to display copyrighted works in online courses. It does not apply to hybrid courses. For an online course use to use the TEACH Act, specific requirements must be met by course instructors and the academic institution. These requirements are fairly stringent, and the allowed uses of copyrighted materials are more restrictive than for in-person instruction.
For more information on the requirements of the TEACH Act, see LUS's TEACH Act Toolkit.
If your use does not fit into the Classroom Use Exemption or the TEACH Act, you still have other good options for using copyrighted works for instruction. Some are: