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Copyright and Fair Use: For Faculty - eLearn

Who is liable?

One of the main questions or concerns about copyright is often: who is liable for copyright infringement? It is important to know that, as a faculty member, YOU ARE LIABLE for the use of copyrighted materials in both your eLearn course sites and any other course websites you create (such as Wordpress, blogger, etc.).

What if I'm not sure if my use constitutes copyright infringement?
If you have questions or concerns, contact the Library. Email or call Allison Keaney, 508-565-1289,

What can I use in eLearn?

Here, it is important to evaluate whether or not your use constitutes fair use by following the guidelines provided by the various resources on the "Fair Use" tab. If you prefer to have the library conduct a fair use evaluation, please contact us; once we have obtained the items you wish to use, we will then evaluate them and submit any items requiring permissions to the Copyright Clearance Center. Electronic items will then be made available to your students through our Ares electronic reserves system.

Here are some sample uses of copyrighted materials in eLearn that do or do not meet fair use guidelines:

Constitutes fair use:

  • A link to a reputable website that provides copyright holder information and/or Creative Commons Licensing information.
  • Linking to or including PDFs of Open Access materials.
  • A PDF of an portion of a book that you have evaluated and determined meets fair use best practices.
  • An embedded YouTube video that was legally obtained and posted to YouTube.
  • Any handouts or course materials you created, or any materials created by someone else under an appropriate Creative Commons license.
  • Linking to streaming media (videos, sound recordings) licensed by the library.

DOES NOT constitute fair use:

  • A link to a website that contains pirated information, or that re-posts others' copyrighted materials without the copyright holders' knowledge or permission.
  • A PDF that represents a significant percentage of, or an entire, copyrighted book.
  • A PDF of an article obtained from a database whose terms of use prohibit sharing or re-posting full text articles (for instance, Harvard Business Review articles and case studies).
  • An embedded YouTube video that appears to have been pirated (for instance, an entire TV episode or film posted by an account that does not appear to be the director's, producer's, or offical studio's account).
  • Linking to streaming media posted illegally online.
  • Materials (handouts, worksheets, etc.) obtained online without the permission of its original creator, or without a Creative Commons license.

Contact Us

  Call The Desk at 508.565.1313

  Email us  

 Make a Reference appointment


This information is provided by the library to assist you in making informed decisions about copyright and fair use. It is intended as  a general guideline and an interpretation of current copyright issues. It is not intended, and should not be construed as, legal advice.

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