Educational activities and copyright
Copyright grants the creator of an original work exclusive rights for its use and distribution. The methods of use and distribution that are covered under copyright include the reproduction, performance, showing, and broadcast of a work, the distribution of a work over the internet, and the rental of a work. A variety of works are protected under copyright law.
In school education, a variety of resources such as publications, literature, websites, music and visual images, etc., are used to facilitate the activities conducted in the classroom. We need to pay particular attention to situations in which copyrighted materials are reproduced and distributed in class or posted on to a website like “Moodle.”
As you may be aware, copyright law provides some exceptions that allow educators to make use of copyrighted materials as part of their teaching and research without permission. (Refer to the Copyright Act, Article 35)
However, the exceptions only apply under “certain conditions.” We need to know when we can use a work without permission and when permission or a license is required.
In this situation, the teacher is likely to infringe the copyright of the work since the exceptions apply only to “the extent considered necessary.” Both the distribution of a large number of copies and the use of the reproduced material by a large number of students may not satisfy the condition of “the extent considered necessary.” (As a general rule, the total number of students and faculty members in a single class is considered to be 50.)
In this situation, the faculty member needs to obtain permission from the copyright holder. The lecture for the course has already finished, and also storing copyrighted works on the LAN server (even if it is for internal use only) does not fall under “use in the process of teaching.”
Japan Patent Attorneys Association, Kinki Chapter, Study Group for Intellectual Property Regulations, New Operations Study Sub-Division (Copyrights Team.), 2007. Q&A concerning copyrights in school education. Available at:
<http://www.kjpaa.jp/wp/pdf/research/070404gakko.pdf> [Accessed 12 Dec 2016].
Copyright Act, Article 35, Guideline Discussion Group, 2004. Copyright Act, Article 35 Concerning the reproduction of works by schools and other educational institutions Guidelines. Available at:
< http://www.jbpa.or.jp/pdf/guideline/act_article35_guideline.pdf> [Accessed 12 Dec 2016]
Especially, we need to pay particular attention to the copyright when distributing works over the internet (e.g. e-learning contents on Moodle, data that is scanned and reproduced). We need to obtain permission from the copyright holder since this is considered as "reproduction” and also “public transmission" even if the material is for internal use only.
The copyright law provides some exceptions to the general rule for educational use. However, the conditions for its application are very strict and precise and must be judged on a case by case basis. It is highly recommended that all faculty members check the details of the copyright law once more.
Here are some links about copyright for your reference. (*Some of them are only available in Japanese)
If you have any questions, please contact the Center for Teaching and Learning.
Copyright Act, Article 35, Guideline Discussion Group (Only in Japanese)
Japan Copyright Educational Association (Only in Japanese)
A link to the website of CRIC