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Online Teaching and Copyright

Where do I find legal online materials?

Legal online materials include (but are not limited to):

  • licensed library materials, such as eBooks, online journals, and streaming video databases 
  • free online content in the public domain or with a completely open license (allowing for anyone to retain, reuse, revise, remix, redistribute; typically CC0 or CC BY)
  • free online content with a license that allows for educational use (typically any other Creative Commons license)

Search for them:

  • Through the library discovery system, databases, or other subscription services (ask your liaison librarian when you need assistance)
  • Through Open Educational Resources sites
  • Through other websites that allow for searching of legal content (as examples, see "Finding Images You Can Legally Use," Digital Public Library of America, OSF Preprints or other preprint repositories)
  • Through an author's institutional repository (browse or search author's institutional website or affiliated library website for an "institutional repository," "digital archive." "scholar commons" or similar; these are often also discoverable by searching Google Scholar)
  • Through an author's personal website. Authors often share free PDFs of articles or chapters this way.

How do I share online resources with students?

Link to or embed resources that are legally available online.*

Linking to (or embedding) a resource directs the user to the original source rather than making a separate copy, so in essence, you’re crediting the author, following license agreements, and complying with copyright, all without having to think about it!

Side benefit – for our licensed library content, linking counts as usage in our statistics. When librarians know what journals and e-books are being highly used, we’ll aim to continue and/or expand access to those resources.

*Linking or embedding resources ensures full compliance with copyright, as well as ensuring accurate use statistics for library resources.

**Kanopy films are typically limited to one-year licenses due to cost considerations. If you plan to assign a film for class, contact your librarian to ensure access or fill out the request form in Kanopy. 

Streaming Video

Streaming a complete film in your online course will nearly always require a streaming license.* 

If you need to stream a full-length film in your course, 

  1. Search the library's streaming video databases to see if we already have access to the film you need
  2. Contact your librarian about other possible streaming options.
  3. Search the internet to see if the film is included with a streaming service (e.g. Hulu, Netflix, Disney+) and ask students to subscribe to that service (similar to a the cost for other course materials)

*Regarding full-length films in online teaching, the in-class exception typically used for face-to-face teaching does not apply, the TEACH Act does not apply (it could apply for short clips of films), there are additional restrictions with the DMCA, and fair use would generally not apply. Fair use could only be considered if there are no streaming license options available.