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Online Course Materials for Doane Faculty

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

Providing Access to Course Materials

​Faculty have an obligation to practice high copyright standards. Refer to the Faculty Handbook 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.

Where possible, link to a legitimate online copy of the work instead of posting a copy of the work on your course website. US copyright law always permits you to link to a legitimate copy of the work hosted elsewhere, even when the work is protected by copyright. For instance, it is permissible to link to many of the electronic resources purchased by the library, including journal articles, eBooks, or streaming video. See "Finding Permalinks" under the Off-Campus Access section 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 you wish to provide students with a reading or other materials that are not available through Perkins Library, such as a scanned chapter from a book you own, you are encouraged to apply the Fair Use guidelines below. If you post a copy of a work always include copyright information including author and publisher names. Some materials do not meet the standards for copyright protection — they are uncopyrightable. Facts, ideas, titles, short phrases, and works prepared by an officer or employee of the US Government as part of that person's official duties all fall into this category.

If you determine that the use of material you are considering would not constitute Fair Use, and you cannot find an alternative in the library collection, you may request permission using the Copyright Clearance Center's Pay-Per-Use Academic Licenses service. 

Fair Use

Copied from the policies outlined by the Department of Online and Innovative Learning at Doane. If use of materials is challenged, determination of fair use is ultimately determined by a court of law. For that reason, none of this should be considered legal advice.


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

What is Copyright?

The goal of copyright law, as grounded in the U.S. Constitution, is to promote the progress of science and the useful arts.

Copyright is a form of protection granted to authors that provides them, for a limited period of time, with certain exclusive rights. These rights are intended to encourage authors to create, thereby providing society with valuable works.

The limitation on the length of copyright (as well as other limitations such as fair use) balances the benefits of incentives for authors with the benefits of allowing the public to make use of copyrighted materials in a free and democratic society.

A copyright owner has the exclusive right to do and to authorize others to do any of the following:

  • To reproduce the work in copies or phonorecords
  • To prepare derivative works based upon the work
  • To distribute copies or phonorecords of the work to the public by sale or other transfer of ownership, or by rental, lease, or lending
  • To perform the work publicly, in the case of literary, musical, dramatic, and choreographic works, pantomimes, and motion pictures and other audiovisual works
  • To display the work publicly, in the case of literary, musical, dramatic, and choreographic works, pantomimes, and pictorial, graphic, or sculptural works, including the individual images of a motion picture or other audiovisual work
  • To perform the work publicly (in the case of sound recordings) by means of a digital audio transmission