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Copyright for Faculty: Copyright and Course Materials

This guide provides resources for faculty and students on U.S. Copyright Law and how it pertains to education.

FAQs for Course Material

I would like my students to read a wide range of material that is not in one textbook. What are the options?

There are several good ways to provide access to course materials for your students. The best option depends on the material itself.

Placing books or other physical materials on reserve at the FSCJ Libraries works best for optional readings, small classes, or when the selections are fairly short. It does not work well when 50 students are competing for one book during a short period of time.

FSCJ Libraries license many electronic journals and books for FSCJ faculty, staff and students.

If material is not licensed electronically, reserve use without permission from the copyright owner is generally limited to a single chapter or article. The instructor is responsible for complying with U.S. copyright law.

What about my syllabus, class notes, tests and papers?

As long as you own the copyright you can place material  your course's Blackboard site. Students own the copyright for papers they write for  your class. Student work may also be protected by FERPA (Family Education Rights and Privacy Act) in addition to copyright law, so you must get student permission in writing before sharing their work.

For FSCJ licensed electronic materials, can I upload the .pdf to Blackboard?

If the license does not allow you to download the pdf for reserves, you must create a link instead. In most cases, the url that displays at the top of the page will work on campus only. Logging in to a campus web site or portal does not automatically mean that any resources a user tries to access will be proxied. 

Can I just link to an eBook in my course ware or website if the library owns or has it licensed?

Using eBooks for a class is still a developing model. Some vendors allow the Libraries to license their books for an unlimited number of concurrent readers. Others allow only one reader at a time, similar to using a print copy of a book. Students, sharing what is essentially one copy of a book, may not always have access when they want it, especially right before an exam.

What's the deal with 'Open'? I keep hearing about it but I like to have the terms explained.

It can be confusing! For more information visit the FSCJ Libraries Open Educational Resources research guide.

Options for Access to Course Material

Material Options Considerations


  • Each student has own text
  • Cost to student
Open Textbooks
  • Open textbooks save students money
  • Faculty are empowered to edit content
  • Selection of open textbooks is still limited
Library-licensed eBooks
  • Not all texts are available as eBooks
  • Some have limited numbers of concurrent users
  • Some have maximum total uses
  • Some can be "checked out", locking out access for other students
Library Course Reserves
  • Students share a limited number of copies of book
  • Works best for smaller classes, optional texts or classes where only a small portion of the book is used
Book Chapter

Blackboard or other learning management system

Blackboard Help

  • Faculty are responsible for copyright/license compliance
  • It is rare for use of more than one chapter of a book to be considered fair use.  If additional chapters are needed, please explore other options such as using the book as a textbook, putting it on course reserve or putting the chapters in a course pack.

Course pack

  • Copyright royalties are usually paid for book chapters in course packs
  • Students pay all fees by purchasing course pack
Library-licensed eJournal article

Blackboard or other learning management system

Blackboard Help

  • Some licenses allow pdfs to be stored on Blackboard
  • Others require instructors to use link to content
Course pack
  • Some eJournal articles can be used royalty free in course packs, others require fees
  • Students pay all fees by purchasing course packs
Library-owned print journal articles

Blackboard or other learning management system

Blackboard Help

  • Faculty are responsible for copyright compliance
Course pack
  • Copyright royalties usually need to be paid for copies of print journal articles
  • Students pay all fees by purchasing course pack
Journal article/book chapter from other sources

Blackboard or other learning management system

Blackboard Help

  • Faculty are responsible for copyright compliance
Course pack
  • Copyright royalties usually need to be paid for copies of print journal articles
  • Students pay all fees by purchasing course pack
Media Library-licensed streaming media
  • TTU Libraries has licensed videos and audio tracks for patrons
Library Reserves for physical items
  • Works best for smaller classes, optional materials or short selections

  • Instructors are responsible for copyright/license compliance
Streamed media

If you intend to use many feature films (i.e. popular Hollywood titles), you might consider asking your students to subscribe to a third party streaming service such as Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, among others

Instructor generated material

  • Excellent option for syllabi, assignments, sample tests, and so on
Student generated material

  • FERPA and copyright apply -- need permission to post material

This guide was originally maintained by librarians at the Texas Tech University Architecture Library. It has been updated by the Scholarly Communication Librarian. The updated version was adapted from library material from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), California State University Long Beach, Duke University, New York University and Florida State University. This adaptation, revised by the Florida State College at Jacksonville was based on the most recent edition that was created by Camille Thomas is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License. 

 Creative Commons License