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Faculty & Staff: Copyright and Fair Use: Best Practices

A guide to copyright rules and regulations specifically for educators. This guide will walk you through the pitfalls of copyright and help you navigate the rules regarding Fair Use.

Getting Permissions

When to seek permission...check mark icon

  • If you've been using the same photocopied work in your class for the last fifteen years
  • If you know you'll be assigning a copyrighted work in March when you're putting your syllabus together in January
  • If you've decided to include a reading that's not in the textbook in your assignment two weeks from now

Or basically any time you plan to distribute copyrighted works!


A key to Fair Use is Spontaneity.  If there is reasonable time to seek permission, you are required to do so!

Seeking Permissions:

‚ÄčThree steps to securing permission:

  1. Identify the rights holder.  If you know the publisher, that's the best place to start, since most publishers have a specific path they require you to take when seeking copyright permissions.  
  2. Request permission. Verbal permission is a good start, but you will need a signed letter for legal purposes.  Most publishers and major rights holders will have a template or form to use for this purpose.
  3. Keep a record. If permission is granted, hang on to the signed letter detailing the parameters of the permission, and any documentation created in the course of seeking permission.  

What if permission is denied?

Email  The Library may be able to provide access to the work you're seeking through a course reserve.

Helpful Links

Linking from Library Resources

An important part of avoiding copyright infringement in your online courses is sending students through Library databases for access to articles, ebooks, and videos.

To do this in Blackboard, follow the steps below to embed links in your distance ed courses.

Screenshot of an instructor's view of Blackboard with a box around the menu item "Build Content."


Select "Web Link" from the drop-down menu. Paste in your EZproxy link in the "URL" blank (boxed in red below) and add a name for the link. Add a description if you wish, change any of the options, and click "Submit." Be sure to test the link from home to make sure that it works off campus!

Screenshot of an instructor's view of the Create Web Link tool in Blackboard with a box around the URL with a sample link filled into it.

Stable Links with EZproxy

To ensure your students can access a library resource on and off campus, you need to use a link that includes EZproxy. EZproxy authenticates our users, allowing on campus access and prompting off campus users to log in. An EZproxy link looks like this:

Don't copy and paste the URL you see in your browser's search bar! This URL will not link students through our proxy and thus will not let them access the resource. 

Instead, look for the permalink.  This will ensure the link does not break after you finish your search session, and that students who use the link are routed through our EZ Proxy.

The Library provides access to streaming videos through Films on Demand.  

To embed a video from this resource into your Blackboard course, use the Record URL located under the video you would like to use.

Screenshot of Films on Demand interface with a box drawn around the Record URL bar