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Three Questions Before Posting Material Online
There are three questions that should be considered prior to making copyrighted material available online via a CMS/LMS or course reserves system:
- Is the material copyrighted?
- Does your proposed use of the copyrighted work qualify as fair use or fall under some other exception?
The information below and in the other parts of this Guide will help you answer these questions
Copyright and Contracts
Text Materials - Can I Use That?
- Always link to the existing digital version of the text (e.g., article in a database). Most license agreements require use of the stable or persistent link provided and forbid downloading of content for re-posting in a CMS/LMS or electronic course reserves system.
- Digitize hard copy texts and post electronic version in secure site accessible only by enrolled students within bounds of fair use.
- Seek permission of not fair use.
- Look for Creative Commons or open access content such as article versions that have been posted in an open repository according to the archiving policy of the publication. Utilize a service such as Unpaywall to help locate open access versions of scholarly material.
Video - Can I Use That?
- Digitizing and streaming video - under exceptions to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), educators may create short digital clips of video to stream to online students.
- See Showing Movies in Class and on Campus page for more information
Images - Can I Use That?
- As a best practice, be sure you are sharing legal copies of images, which is often hard to determine when searching globally online for images, and provide attribution for images used, even when incorporated into lecture slides.
- Be aware of possible textbook or license restrictions when utilizing or incorporating images from instructional/curricular materials.
- Use public domain or openly licensed images whenever possible. See the Creative Commons and Public Domain pages for resources where these image types can be found.
Audio - Can I Use That?
- In the absence of any restrictive licensing or subscriber terms, utilize fair use with digitizing and streaming audio recordings.
- Whenever possible, utilize Creative Commons or otherwise openly licensed content or locate sound recordings in the public domain for streaming. The Creative Commons and Public Domain pages of this guide provide resources where you can locate audio content.