Using Copyrighted and Library Content

Find out how you can legally and ethically use copyrighted and library content in your academic research, instruction, essays & writings, and creative projects. Legal disclaimer: this copyright guide is meant for informational & educational purposes only.

Library Research Guide

Sharing Content in a Closed Online Classroom


This page will assist you in understanding how to legally and ethically reuse others' content in a closed online classroom (e.g., Canvas, Blackboard). Some resources provided are K-State specific, but many are general and can apply to the majority of closed online classrooms in the U.S.

The content on this page is based on the Framework for Analyzing any U.S. Copyright Problem, which has been modified and adapted specifically for the reuse of content in closed online classrooms.


Copyright symbol with phrase: "When in doubt, link it out!"1. When in doubt, link it out!

If possible, provide a link to the resource rather than include a copy of the resource in your closed online classroom. That way, you don’t have to worry about copyright concerns, because you aren’t reproducing the content.

If providing a link to a journal article or electronic library resource, either provide the DOI or a permalink for link stability.

Permalink Resource



Public Domain symbol

2. Use public domain content

In other words, the copyright term has expired or it never had copyright protection.

Here is an image in the public domain:Moon Panorama with Astronaut
Moon panorama, series of photos taken by NASA astronaut Harrison Schmitt, later combined to create a panorama, 1972

All works created by U.S. government employees when acting in their direct job responsibilities are in the public domain.

Public Domain Resources




Creative Commons Icon with text written in the border, "Creative Commons"3. Use Creative Commons Licensed (CCL) Content

Find content with Creative Commons Licensing (CCL). CCL enables authors to establish a set of licenses or permissions that determine how others can use their work. Creative Commons (CC) doesn't replace copyright, but it does make it easier to determine how someone can use a particular work.

CCL works can easily be used in a closed online classroom, but be sure to comply with the CCL Terms of Use.

For example, all the licenses require attribution, which is as simple as including an in-text citation and/or attribution to the source in a reference list. See the caption below this image for an example of an in-text citation/attribution.

Diagram of the Water Cycle, showing how water is stored and transported across the planet.
Photo courtesy of Ehud Tal, Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License (CC BY-SA).

Creative Commons Resources




K-State Libraries Logo4. Use K-State Library-Licensed Content

  • Many of these resources can be linked or posted in a K-State closed online course.
  • Most agreed-upon practice is to post a permalink, which is a permanent link for a URL.
  • Provide a citation; this would be modeling good scholarly communication behavior for your students.
  • Beware: Harvard Business Review does not allow posting of links to their content within online courses.

Permalink & K-State Licensed Resources

Stream a Library-Licensed Film





Clipart depiction of TEACH Act; teacher, podium, computer, and WiFi symbol5. Rely on the Technology, Education and Copyright Harmonization (TEACH) Act

  • Specifically for display and performance of copyrighted works.
    • i.e., For showing not for downloading
  • Online education exception
  • TEACH Act also known as Section 110(2) of the U.S. Copyright Act
  • More restrictive than 110(1), the face-to-face education exception, specifically for dramatic works (e.g. film, opera, play).


  • Use only the amount needed to complete your educational objective when using videos and dramatic works.
  • Use screen capture technology when you want to copy portions of videos, such as DVDs and blu-rays (see resources on Screen Capture Technology below).
  • When embedding content, such as from YouTube, you do not have to rely on TEACH Act or any other exemption; the YouTube license gives you permission to embed, so long as those permissions are set by the user who uploaded the video.
  • See the checklists below for assistance when checking for TEACH Act compliance.

Image adapted by Rachel Miles
from four images (1, 2, 3, 4), CC0

TEACH Act Resources

Screen Capture Technology Resources
(for recording or copying portions of video content, e.g., DVDs, blu-rays)





"Fair Use" Text above the Balance of Law Scales Image

6. Rely on fair use

  • When you cannot rely on TEACH Act, try to rely on fair use.
  • Fair use allows students to retain or download the content.
  • Be sure you have a legal copy of the content you are using.
  • Ensure that the copyrighted work you are using is crucial to your educational, scholarly, or creative objective.
  • If the resource can easily be replaced by another resource that is in the public domain or has a Creative Commons License, it is probably not fair use.

Image courtesy of OpenClipArt-Vectors,
CC0, adapted by Rachel Miles

Fair Use Resources





Permission Granted Stamp

Image adapted from

7. Request permission

  •  Be sure to specify that the content will be used in a closed online classroom that requires authentication and available only to the students officially enrolled in the course.
  • Be sure to archive all permission letters, even if it's just an email granting you permission.

Permission Requests Resource