I am the TA for a class and we plan on assigning problems from a book. The professor also has the solutions manual for this book.

Would any legal problems arise if, instead of writing the solutions myself, I simply photocopied the relevant solutions from the manual and posted these on our private class webpage?

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    In which country? – The Doctor Jan 8 '18 at 1:03
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    California, US. – oscarafone Jan 8 '18 at 1:10
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    It's not really a good idea to try to get legal advice from random Internet strangers - if we're wrong and your university gets sued, they're not really going to be impressed when you say "but Academia.SE said it was okay!" Your university librarians are a better source of help - they know a lot about this kind of thing, and often have ready-made solutions that have passed legal muster. – Nate Eldredge Jan 8 '18 at 2:39
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    It's also worth noting that the textbook publisher is likely to get mad at you if they find you're sharing the solution manual with students. If it's a student manual, they're going to want the students to buy it. If it's an instructor manual, they are not going to want students to get it at all (even though the instructor manual will inevitably be on the Internet somewhere anyway). It might not be a copyright issue, but it may violate the terms and conditions under which they gave you the solution manual. – Nate Eldredge Jan 8 '18 at 2:42
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    It's not OK, but it's also moot. I'll bet real money that your students have already found an illegal, online copy of the instructor solution manual. I'm not even good at it, but I can find worked out copies of every quiz I've given in the last ten years. Websites like Cramster and CourseHero have almost everything. Chinese websites make up the difference. Giving the students copies of the manual answers adds no value to the class. – B. Goddard Jan 8 '18 at 3:35

Legally? Dunno. I'm not a lawyer and the test for fair use is anyway not a bright line test.

Pedagogically, it will be far better to give answers that relate to how the course was taught, and it might be possible to generate those from the publisher's manual without much trouble. Pick something discussed in class, relate it to the current problem, and explain how one gets to the solution.

Also, see both comments to the question by Nate Eldredge.


I don't think so to be honest. However, from what I have experienced, solving the problem in your own way can help the students have more trust in your expertise. This will help learn better.


Ok lets go back to good old fashion common sense! Obviously it is not ethical to just "copy/paste" the materials. This applies for questions/solutions/slides/etc. The legal issue is secondary in my opinion.

Why not come up with your own questions and answers and take ownership of your own work? What is the point for students to attend your class? To get a photocopy of things? You have the better understanding of the the field and topic, so I suggest to come up with interesting questions/answers that triggers the imagination of student about your teaching topic/field.

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