Using Copyrighted Materials Online

This guide is designed to assist instructors in selecting and using copyrighted materials in their online classrooms.


Please be advised that any information and/or links provided on this site do not constitute legal advice and are for informational purposes only.  Any person using this site may wish to seek legal advice from a licensed attorney to address any legal questions or concerns.


Can I copy the DVD's that come with the instructor textbook and put them on the course Blackboard Learn page for students to view throughout the course?

Many times a course text book will come with supplementary materials that you are able to use in your online class.  Review any text book or software introductions as well as the DVD license to determine whether these materials may be replicated and placed online.  If you are unable to determine whether this is acceptable, contact the publisher for clarification.

Can I place copies of pdf files of journal papers we have in our library on my Blackbard Learn page?

The libraries recommend that you link articles from the library databases to your course in lieu of making the pdfs available.  Students will still have access to the articles from their homes or offices. This practice ensures that the articles are still available through the library subscriptions each semester.  While some databases do allow for a pdf file to be made available via Blackboard, it would be necessary for you to check the article's availability each semester.

How do I get permission to post a pdf file of a journal article on my course page in Blackboard Learn?

You are welcome to attach links to pdfs from library subscription databases directly in your course.  If you wish to post a pdf of an item that is from the library collection, please review the libraries' reseve policies and contact the reserve supervisor In other cases, check to determine whether use of the article falls within fair use, if this is not the case contact the publisher to obtain permissions.

Do we need to get permission every semester I teach to load pdf files on my course page?

We recommend that you link articles to your course in lieu of directly loading files.  When this is done, you only need to check that the link is still usable. You are also encouraged to use the libraries' course reserves service to manage materials from library collections. If you have loaded individual pdfs (or mp3, wavs, etc) in your class, you are obligated to ensure that copyright compliance is met.  This may mean that permission needs to be regranted from the publisher or a fee is paid for access to the materials on a long-term basis.

Can I use figures from journal papers in my on-line lecture notes as log as I cite the source or do I need permission to put them in my on-line course notes?

Figures in papers may be used as long as they do not constitute a significant portion of any paper and are cited appropriately.  If yoy are using multiple figures, it is recommended that you make available the paper to your students according to copyright guidelines.

I only want to use one chapter of a book.  Can I copy it and load it as a pdf for my students to access in Blackboard Learn?

The use of one chapter may or may not fall into the realm of fair use. However, consider contacting the library reserves service which can make portions of a work owned by the library available for your class and may be able to identify and obtain an electronic version of the book which might be linked to your class.

We switched text books, my PowerPoint notes contain figures and examples from the previous text book, can I still use these notes and load them on Blackboard Learn?

Most instructor notes which are obtained through a text book publisher are copyrighted.  If the use does not constitute a significant portion (<10%) of the origital materials and is not the "heart" of the works provided, they may fall under fair-use and may be used with appropriate acknowledgement. 

I have a case study I would like the students to read.  Can I scan it into pdf form and post it on Blackboard Learn for them to access?

Case studies are like other book chapters and articles and can be made available if they meet fair use guidelines (see link).  If your use is not considered fair use, review any introductory or supplementary information from the source of the case study.  This information may indicate the appropriateness of scanning and posting the case study.  If the sources are unclear, contact the publisher.

I wrote an article and would like the class to read it, can I post my pdf copy?

If you own the rights to your work you may do so; however, many faculty sign away their copyright to the publisher.  Link you article from e-resources whenever possible or obtain permission from your publisher.

Can I use test bank questions from the book we used last year that match concepts covered this year with a different text book?

Test bank questions are provided with specific textbooks and are copyrighted by the original publisher. Reuse for use with another textbook is not recommended.

I have a YouTube video that I would like to load on my course Blackboard Learn page, can I do it?

It is fine (and easy too) to link YouTube videos to your class. Just note that the videos served through YouTube may "disappear" if there is evidence of copyright infringement on the filmmaker's part.

I would like to show a clip from a movie to demonstrate a management concept.  Can I copy that clip and load it on my course Blackboard Learn page?

Up to 10% or 3 minutes of a non-dramatic work (whichever is less) may be considered to fall under the fair-rights use guidelines in situations where all other fair use areas are met.