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Copyright for Faculty

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

What Can I Put in Canvas?

What do you do with the copyrighted materials?



How to Use

Public Domain Materials (Government documents, work dated before 1923 with no renewal)


Creative Commons Licenses


Open Educational Resources


Owned Content


Licensed Content


Exemptions for Teaching

The TEACH Act makes many exemptions for face to face courses, but online teaching is more conditional due to the nature of the web. A good rule of thumb is using an amount of a work comparable to that performed or displayed in a live classroom such as limiting access and copies to registered students and/or individual class sessions. Fair Use claims may be made by instructors where TEACH act guidelines may not be clear or use is integral to the class. For example using part of a book chapter during the weeks students may be in the process of getting the textbook can be a fair use claim.

Got a question? Contact a librarian for any questions not answered in this post, or specific to your situation.

Copyright Resources for Online Teaching

Linking Material vs. Posting PDFs

Articles and other materials from library databases are subject to license agreements that specify how database contents may be used. For information on how database materials can be used, including whether it is permitted to post PDFs of materials on classes, contact a faculty librarian.

Generally, all database materials can be made available through Blackboard by linking to the appropriate database. Linking is just as easy as attaching a PDF, but it is a better option for providing access to licensed material while staying within copyright and license terms. 

When there is no license agreement specifying how materials can be used, the U.S. Copyright Act applies to posting PDFs of library materials on Blackboard. Copyright law permits posting in three situations:

  1. the work is in the public domain 
  2. you have permission from the copyright owner 
  3. your use qualifies as Fair Use 

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