Copyright Compliance Checklist

The following is a list of the primary areas for which our compliance team checks online courses. Meeting these best practices will help to satisfy Quality Matters standard 4.3, and further UNT's policy to strive to meet the demands of federal and state copyright and trademark laws.

Review Standards


Derivative Works

A document (e.g., DOC, PDF), slideshow, or spreadsheet that was originally authored by a third party may be modified and/or included in the course if it is completely transformed into a new document, or if express written permission is acquired from the copyright owner(s).  Otherwise we run the risk of infringing the owner’s derivative work copyright. Learn more about derivative works.

Tables or Graphs

Data freely available online is not copyrighted and may be used in courses.  However, third-party tables and graphs, which display the data, are copyrighted.  Third-party tables and graphs may be copied into courses if express written authorization is secured from the copyright holder, or the tables or graphs are completely recreated using new arrangements/order, coloring, and font faces.

Licensed Images (i.e., Commercial "Stock" Photos)

A best practice is to utilize only images in the public domain or available through open access licenses (such as Creative Commons).  Commercial “stock” images, from providers such as Getty Images, Adobe Stock, iStockPhoto, etc., may be in used in a course, but only if they are purchased and licensed.  The easiest solution is to source images from free photo repositories like,, and others found on CLEAR’s Usable Works page; or perform a reverse image search at to verify your image is not unlicensed.

Attribution Captions

The Creative Commons (“CC”) license, and similar license terms, require that an attribution caption, containing specific information be included along with the copyrighted work.  Images obtained from Wikimedia Commons and are often licensed under CC.  The attribution typically should include the title of the work -- hyperlinked back to the originating web site, the author's name, and the license terms -- hyperlinked to the license site.  Examples can be found on the CLEAR Creative Commons web page.

TEACH Act / Fair Use Requirements

The TEACH Act and fair use doctrine permit the reproduction and distribution of a copyrighted work, such as pages from a book or journal article, or segments of video, in the course of education, for direct, pedagogical purposes, but only in a small, aggregate portion (ideally, close to 5% or below, and never more than 10%).

Use of a Person’s Name, Likeness, Photograph, etc.

Licensed content containing the name, likeness, or other intellectual property associated with a famous person’s identity may be used in a course if it has a direct, pedagogical purpose, and it is not used in anything of a promotional nature (e.g., title slides, document coversheets, web pages or print materials advertising the course or UNT).  Learn more about the right of privacy.

Social Media Content

A federal court has ruled that a person can be found to have made an infringing distribution of third-party social media posts and images simply by embedding them in a web page.  As such, we recommend linking out to the social media web page which hosts the third-party social media content, rather than embed it.  Learn more about embedding social media.


Trademark fair use permits the use of trademarks (e.g., logos) when identifying a company, product, or service for a directly pedagogical purpose.  As with a famous person’s likeness, use of trademarks in anything of a promotional nature (e.g., title slides, document coversheets, web pages or materials advertising the course or UNT) should be avoided.

If you have any questions about any of the best practices above, please contact us via email, or phone at (940) 369-6457.