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Affordable Course Materials

Use this guide to help find licensed and freely available materials for your courses.

Copyright & Using Library Materials in Canvas

​Faculty have an obligation to practice high copyright standards. Refer to the Faculty Handbook (section 10.3) to see the University's policy on adhering to copyright legislation. In addition to the guidelines in the Reproduction of Copyrighted Works by Educators and Librarians (PDF) referenced in the handbook, there are many resources available on the internet to help you understand copyright law.

The information provided by the library should not be taken as legal advice, but we can provide some best practices for incorporating materials into your Canvas course sites.

It is always best practice to link to a legitimate online copy of the work instead of posting a copy of the work in Canvas. For instance, it is permissible to link to many of the electronic resources licensed though the library, including journal articles, eBooks, or streaming video, however it is not permissible to download a PDF of an article and post it. See the Permalinks section of the Off-Campus Access page of this guide.

If you have specific questions about providing certain types of content, or would like help finding resources in the library, contact

If linking is not possible, instructional materials may be posted to Canvas under any of the following circumstances:

  • The faculty member is the owner of the copyright in the material,
  • The copyright owner of the material grants permission, or permission is obtained using a service such as the Copyright Clearance Center,
  • The material has been designated open access by the copyright owner,
  • The material is in the public domain, or
  • The use intended of the material falls within fair use or another copyright exception.

For your convenience, the tabs below contain some of the university's policies on copyright pertaining to online instruction. In addition, we've included a handy fair use checklist to help guide your decision-making.



Under the Copyright Act, copyright owners have the exclusive right to reproduce, distribute, perform, display, and prepare derivative works of their creations. If another person desires to reproduce or use a copyrighted work, that person must either seek permission from the copyright owner or fall within the Copyright Act’s “fair use” exemption. “Fair use” is a defense to copyright infringement that allows one to use a copyrighted work under certain conditions without the permission of the copyright owner, as discussed in more detail throughout this document.

If you have any questions about whether a particular use constitutes “fair use,” please contact your Department chair or academic Dean.


There are no bright line rules or tests with the fair use doctrine. To determine whether a use is “fair use,” courts weigh the four factors outlined below. Following each factor are some considerations that, if true in a particular situation, are suggestive of fair use as it relates to that factor. Keep in mind that each of the four factors must be considered; no single factor is dispositive when determining whether a particular use is appropriate.

1) The purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes.

- Materials are provided only for the purpose of serving the educational needs of the course and only for one course
- Students are not charged a fee for the course materials, nor does the University benefit monetarily from the use of the materials.

2) The nature of the copyrighted work.

- The selected work is directly relevant to the learning objectives for the course
- Careful consideration was taken with regards to “consumable” materials that are meant to be used and repurchased

3) The amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole.

- Amount of materials provided are limited, consisting of less than 10% of the total work
- The amount of work provided is directly related to the learning objectives in the course

4) The effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.

- Materials provided include a citation to the original source of publication and a form of copyright notice when applicable
- Materials are made available exclusively for students enrolled in the course and for educational purposes only within the course; students may not distribute the materials beyond the limits of the course
- Access to materials is limited by password to deter unauthorized access beyond the use of the course
- Materials provided include works that the instructor, the library, or University has lawfully obtained a copy
- Materials are not provided that are reasonably available and affordable for students to purchase

Articles 10.3 and 10.3.1 of the Doane University Faculty Handbook



The Fair Use Checklist and variations on it have been widely used for many years to help educators, librarians, lawyers, and many other users of copyrighted works determine whether their activities are within the limits of fair use under U.S. copyright law (Section 107 of the U.S. Copyright Act). The four factors form the structure of this checklist.  Congress and courts have offered some insight into the specific meaning of the factors, and those interpretations are reflected in the details of this form.

Fair Use Checklist (pdf)


A proper use of this checklist should serve two purposes.  First, it should help you to focus on factual circumstances that are important in your evaluation of fair use.  The meaning and scope of fair use depends on the particular facts of a given situation, and changing one or more facts may alter the analysis.  Second, the checklist can provide an important mechanism to document your decision-making process.  Maintaining a record of your fair use analysis can be critical for establishing good faith; consider adding to the checklist the current date and notes about your project.  Keep completed checklists on file for future reference.


As you use the checklist and apply it to your situations, you are likely to check more than one box in each column and even check boxes across columns.  Some checked boxes will favor fair use and others may oppose fair use.  A key issue is whether you are acting reasonably in checking any given box, with the ultimate question being whether the cumulative weight of the factors favors or turns you away from fair use.  This is not an exercise in simply checking and counting boxes.  Instead, you need to consider the relative persuasive strength of the circumstances and if the overall conditions lean most convincingly for or against fair use.  Because you are most familiar with your project, you are probably best positioned to evaluate the facts and make the decision.


This checklist is provided as a tool to assist you when undertaking a fair use analysis.  The four factors listed in the Copyright Statute are only guidelines for making a determination as to whether a use is fair.  Each factor should be given careful consideration in analyzing any specific use.  There is no magic formula; an arithmetic approach to the application of the four factors should not be used.  Depending on the specific facts of a case, it is possible that even if three of the factors would tend to favor a fair use finding, the fourth factor may be the most important one in that particular case, leading to a conclusion that the use may not be considered fair.

The Checklist and this introduction is licensed by a Creative Commons Attribution License with attribution to the original creators of the checklist Kenneth D. Crews (formerly of Columbia University) and Dwayne K. Buttler (University of Louisville).

Creative Commons License



The Copyright Act also contains provisions allowing the use of certain copyrighted works in distance education settings, such as courses offered via internet or closed-circuit television. However, these provisions impose requirements that are much more rigorous than the requirements imposed in face-to-face classroom settings. In order for the transmission of a copyrighted work in a distance education setting to comply with the law, educators must consider the following guidelines:

The transmission of the copyrighted work must be limited to “students officially enrolled in the course for which the transmission is made” to the extent “technologically feasible”

In the case of digital transmissions:

  • Technological measures must be applied to prevent unauthorized further dissemination of the work in accessible form by the recipients for longer than the class session

  • Conduct that could reasonably be expected to interfere with technological measures used by copyright owners to prevent retention or unauthorized further dissemination must be avoided

The work being transmitted may be any of the following:

  • Performance of a nondramatic literary work

  • Performance of a musical work

  • Performance of any work in “reasonable and limited portions”

  • Display of any work “in an amount comparable to that which is typically displayed in the course of a live classroom session”

The work being transmitted may not be any of the following:

  • A work produced or marketed primarily for performance or display as part of mediated instructional activities transmitted via digital networks

  • A performance or display given by means of a copy not lawfully made and acquired under the Copyright Act and that the educational institution knew or had reason to know was not lawfully made and acquired

  • The performance or display must be made at the direction of or under the actual supervision of the educator

  • The performance or display must be an integral part of a class session offered as a regular part of the systematic mediated instructional activities of the educational institution

  • The performance or display must be directly related and of material assistance to the teaching content of the transmission

A work may be converted from print or analog form to digital form (limited to the amount that may be performed or displayed as set forth above) only if:

  • No digital version of the work is available to the educational institution, or

  • The digital version of the work that is available has technological protection measures that prevent its availability for performed or displayed

Fair Use Analysis Still Applicable: Even if the particular use of a copyrighted work does not meet the above-mentioned requirements, it may still be allowable if it qualifies under the fair use analysis described previously.

Article of the Doane University Faculty Handbook



The Technology, Education and Copyright Harmonization Act (TEACH Act) of 2002 (see 17 U.S.C. § 110(2)) modified the Copyright Act to allow for the use of copyrighted works of third parties in distance learning activities conducted over internet. The TEACH Act allows educators at accredited, non-profit educational institutions to copy and transmit copyrighted works over distance learning networks without the permission of the copyright owner or the payment of royalties provided certain conditions are met. In order to take advantage of the TEACH Act, the following factors must be met:

  • The work must be legally acquired;

  • The use must occur under the supervision or direction of an instructor;

  • The use must be directly related to the content of the course;

  • The use must be a regular part of a mediated instructional activity;

  • The work can only be accessed by or transmitted to students who are officially enrolled in the course;

  • To the extent technologically feasible, measures must be taken to protect the work from further distribution outside the class and to prohibit retention of the work by the students;

  • Copies of the work can only be made available to students for so long as is reasonably necessary to complete the transmission of the information to the students (for example, the duration of a class session).

All material displayed under the TEACH Act must contain the following notice:

The materials on this course website are only for the use of students enrolled in this course for purposes associated with this course and may not be retained or further disseminated. The materials on this course website may be protected by copyright, and any further use of this material may be in violation of federal copyright law.

The TEACH Act does not permit the following:

  • Uploading material that was illegally obtained;

  • Uploading material that would typically be purchased by students for use in a class, such as textbooks, coursepacks and study guides;

  • Uploading materials specifically created for distance education.

  • Digitizing works only available in analog format for transmission to students in distance learning courses is allowable provided that there is no digital copy of the work available for use, purchase or licensing by the University, and that only the relevant portion needed for transmission is digitized.

Article of the Doane University Faculty Handbook