While copyright holders' rights are exclusive, there are exceptions built in to copyright law that allow works to be used without permission of the copyright holder in specific conditions. If a work is protected by copyright, you need permission to copy, distribute, or display the work unless one of these exceptions apply to your use - there is no general copyright exception for educational use.
The major exceptions that are used in the academic environment are:
Fair Use allows limited use of copyrighted materials for educational and research purposes. The statute outlines four factors that should be assessed in determining whether a use is a Fair Use. These are:
The test is intentionally flexible and fact dependent, so each potential use must be analyzed individually when assessing whether if it is a fair use.
17 U.S.C. Section 110 provides an exemption to copyright for instructors to perform or display copyrighted materials during in person, face-to-face teaching activities. For example, it is permissible to show a full-length motion picture in class as part of the classroom learning. This exemption does not permit copying or distributing a work -- only displaying or performing it during class time.
The TEACH Act extends the Face-to-Face Teaching exemption to distance learning courses in a limited way. The exemption applies only to online courses restricted to registered students, and so may be applicable for Stanford courses that incorporate an online component. This exemption does apply to iTunes U or to MOOCs (e.g. Coursera, NovoEd, Lagunita), which are open to students outside of Stanford. Faculty preparing such courses will need to rely on the fair use exemption or obtain permission to distribute copyrighted material.
Section 108 of the Copyright Act permits libraries and archives to make certain uses of copyrighted materials in order to serve the public and ensure the availability of works over time. Among other things, Section 108 provides limited exceptions for libraries and archives to make copies in specified instances for preservation, replacement and patron access. These exceptions will generally not apply to faculty, students, or staff outside of the library.