Understanding Copyright

Distributing Copyrighted Works

Safely distributing Fair Use works

While faculty are encouraged to use digital technology in innovative ways, care must be taken when using the Internet to distribute copyrighted materials to students for educational purposes. Fair use does not protect the act of widespread distribution of materials via publicly accessible Web sites.

The University provides the following methods for securely distributing work to students for class use. The University strongly encourages faculty to use these resources.

Course Reserves

The University Library provides print and electronic reserves for undergraduate and graduate courses. Library staff will digitize materials to be placed on electronic reserve or provide links to articles available via licensed electronic resources. Information on placing materials on Reserve is available on the Library Course Reserves pages of the Library Web site.


Canvas is the University's e-Learning environment which supports secure distribution of class-specific materials. Course Reserves are made available by the Library via Canvas, but faculty may also distribute additional materials through their Canvas sites. Information on requesting a Canvas site is available on the main Canvas page.

Course Packs

Some departments and divisions within the University utilize photocopied course packs as an alternative way of distributing material to students. All materials included in course packs must be analyzed under applicable copyright requirements to determine whether copyright permission is needed, and, if necessary, appropriate permissions obtained from the copyright holders.

Web Sites

Copyrighted material should not be posted on web sites unless the site has appropriate access-restrictions built in. Faculty and staff may provide links on their web sites to articles within databases licensed by the Library since these databases have built-in access restrictions, but such articles should not be downloaded and posted where they could be freely accessed and copied.

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This web site is a collaboration of The Library, IT Services, and the Provost's Office and the Office of Legal Counsel.