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Open Educational Resources and Zero-Cost Learning: Fair Use and COVID-19

Fair Use in the Context of COVID-19

With the move to remote teaching and research in the COVID-19 pandemic, copyright specialists revised fair use considerations summarized in a Statement on Fair Use & Emergency Remote Teaching & Research and discussed in an April 2020 Association of Southeastern Research Libraries webinar.

CUNY library resources provide readily available online course content. Link to library-licensed articles, books, chapters, and recordings rather than upload them to a course platform. Some vendors have extended access to their products in response to the pandemic. This access will be short-lived, not durable. Contact librarians to help locate content that is available library subscriptions, or published openly.

If a licensed version of a work is not available to link to, conduct a fair use analysis to determine the suitability of providing a copy. Sharing reproductions of in-copyright works --  scanned texts or copied digital files -- requires consideration similarly applicable to distributing copies in-person.

  • It falls within fair use guidelines to share portions of works with students, for non-commercial, educational purposes.
    • Copy only as much as is needed for the pedagogical purpose.
    • It is less likely to be considered an infringement to reproduce parts of works, not entire works.
    • In unusual circumstances, or when works are otherwise unavailable, it may be considered fair use to copy lengthier portions of a work.
  • Limit access (using password protection) to enrolled students, only for as long as it is required by the course.

Adapted from “Rapidly shifting your course from in-person to online” by Nancy Sims, University of Minnesota Libraries, and licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial License.

Scanner apps for your smart phone

Scanner apps can combine documents in a multi-page pdf, which may be more usable than the single images that cameras produce. CUNY provides free Dropbox accounts to CUNY students, faculty, and administrative staff, and the Dropbox phone app contains a scanner.

Use a scanner app for:

  • Creating multi-page documents
  • Cloud sync to a storage service (password protected accounts)
  • Cropping
  • Fast optimization or option to delay
  • Optical Character Recognition (OCR) for best accessibility