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.

Copyright at ZU

Copying printed materials

Fair Use Copying

Single Photocopying for Teachers

A single photocopy may be made of any of the following by or for a teacher at his or her individual request for his or her scholarly research or use in teaching or preparation to teach a class:

  1. A chapter from a book
  2. An article from a periodical or newspaper
  3. A short story, short essay or short poem, whether or not from a collective work
  4. A chart, graph, diagram, drawing, cartoon or picture from a book, periodical, or newspaper

Multiple Copies for Classroom Use

Multiple photocopies (not to exceed in any event more than one copy per pupil in a course) may be made by or for the teacher giving the course for classroom use or discussion; provided that:

  1. The copying meets the tests of brevity and spontaneity as defined on pg. 6 of Copyright Circular 21 below and,
  2. Meets the cumulative effect test as defined below and,
  3. Each copy includes a notice of copyright
These Fair Use exemptions do not cover copying for Course Packs - only materials for which you have secured permission to use or paid copyright clearance fees should be included in Course Packs. 
A legal alternative to printed course packs would be to distribute a document composed of URLs that students may access and print out articles on demand.

Copying an entire book

Under both US Fair Use guidelines and UAE copyright law it is not lawful for a professor to photocopy or scan an entire book for classroom use, or for use in an online course management system such as Blackboard.

Please contact the library administration to discuss options if your department has ordered a textbook, but it has not arrived by the start of the semester.

Under UAE copyright law students and researchers may copy any portion (up to the entire text) of a book as long as it will be used for personal research and for non-commercial use.  This copy must not then be freely made available online, as that would violate the copyright holder's rights.  The library cannot authorize the ZU Business Center to photocopy an entire book for a faculty member or student - the individual who wants to make a complete text copy needs to do so themselves.

For more information about US Fair Use guidelines, please see the Educational Use of Copyrighted Materials section.

Using Images in the Classroom

Listed below are several online resources that will help you find images with explicit license permission for reuse and adaption.

Using Videos (DVD or Streaming) in the Classroom

Can I show a movie in my classroom? 

If you are teaching in a face-to-face setting, you may show a video or movie if usage meets the following Fair Use guidelines:

  1. The material is being shown for educational purposes;
  2. The material shown is relevant to the curriculum;
  3. The item is a lawfully obtained copy

The UAE Intellectual Works department has advised that showing an entire movie without first securing display rights may violate UAE copyright law, but there has been no court cases to date on this issue.

What about YouTube or other internet videos?  Can I show them in the classroom?

You may access and show any educationally relevant (and culturally appropriate) video content on YouTube during class sessions.  Please see the YouTube content license at the end of this section.

If you wish to use content from another video streaming service or site, you need to check on the terms of service for that site to see what rights are granted to users of the service.  Some services may have more limited user rights than YouTube.

Educational Fair Use of Copyrighted Materials

click on image for attribution

UAE copyright law is somewhat different than US copyright law.  However, due to the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works (an international copyright treaty that both the US and the UAE have signed) US copyright guidence is often accepted as an international standard, especially in regards to educational fair use.

Public Domain Materials Are Copyright Free Materials

What are Public Domain materials?

Works that are not eligible for copyright protection:

  • works that have not been fixed in a tangible form of expression (for example, choreographic works that have not been notated or recorded, or improvisational speeches or performances that have not been written or recorded)
  • titles, names, short phrases, and slogans; familiar symbols or designs; mere variations of typographic ornamentation, lettering, or coloring; mere listings of ingredients or contents
  • ideas, procedures, methods, systems, processes, concepts, principles, discoveries, or devices, as distinguished from a description, explanation, or illustration
  • works consisting entirely of information that is common property and containing no original authorship (for example: standard calendars, height and weight charts, tape measures and rulers, and lists or tables taken from public documents or other common sources)


  • Works that have been assigned to the public domain by their creators
  • Works that have entered the public domain because the copyright on them has expired

Public Domain materials:

  • All works published in the U.S. before 1923
  • All works published  in the U.S. with a copyright notice from 1923 through 1963 without copyright renewal
  • All works published in the U.S. without a copyright notice from 1923 through 1977
  • All works published in the U.S. without a copyright notice from 1978 through March 1, 1989, and without subsequent registration within 5 years
  • Internationally all copyrighted works move in to the public domain 70 years after the death of the author or creator, or 95 years after publication for corporate copyright (for example Disney's original Micky Mouse publications).

URLs are in the public domain.

You may always point to a URL for classroom use (in class or online).   While you do need copyright permissions for copyrighted materials included in a Course Pack, you don't need permissions for a list of article links to library databases.

Creative Commons Licensing

What is Creative Commons?

Creative Commons is a nonprofit organization that enables the sharing and use of creativity and knowledge through free legal tools.

Their free, easy-to-use copyright licenses provide a simple, standardized way to give the public permission to share and use your creative work — on conditions of your choice. CC licenses let you easily change your copyright terms from the default of “all rights reserved” to “some rights reserved.”

Creative Commons licenses are not an alternative to copyright. They work alongside copyright and enable you to modify your copyright terms to best suit your needs.     

(text taken from the CC website)