Sharing Course Materials With Students
Copyright issues with course materials usually arise because you're -making copies-. So, make life easy on yourself and your students by not making copies.
How can you share course materials without making copies?
- If the readings are publicly available online, -link- to them, or even just share the website address on paper or via email.
- If the readings are available online via a University subscription, link to them. Look for a "Permanent Link" or "Permanent URL" (or PURL) to copy to your course site, or you can contact the Libraries Course Reserves Office - given enough lead time, staff members can create a linked list for you, that can even automatically show up in your Canvas site.
- If you work with the Course Reserves office, the Libraries can also often purchase a mult-user ebook of items you wish to assign for your course. (This is not usually available for straight-up textbooks, but often is for other books assigned as course readings.)
- Have students buy their own copies, or watch or listen to video or audio via personal accounts
- Put books or journal issues containing the readings on reserve (physically) in the Libraries
- Share citations for the readings with the students
Please note, students may have trouble finding readings from citations; a subject specialist librarian may be able to come to your class to help students develop these skills.
If you have to make copies to share course materials with your students, you will have to think about whether such copies are already permitted by law, or whether you will need permission from (and usually payment to) the copyright holder.
Fair use is a provision in the law that allows some copying without permission or payment. It is undoubtedly sometimes legal to make fair use copies of materials for students in a non-profit instructional environment - the text of the relevant statute mentions "multiple copies for classroom use." But is also undoubtedly true that not all non-profit instructional copies are fair uses.
At the University of Minnesota, instructors are trusted to make their own reasonable and informed choices about fair use. Which requires knowing something about how fair use works. You can learn more elsewhere on our website, or at a workshop.
Sometimes, there is no way to get students to a reading without making copies, and fair use doesn't seem to apply to the copying. Then, you may need permission to make the copies. (Or you may choose to find alternative course materials.
We can help you obtain permissions for course materials, for University of Minnesota courses. There is usually a fee involved for the students.
Unless otherwise noted, all content on the Copyright Information section of this site is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial License.
This web site presents information about copyright law. The University Libraries make every effort to assure the accuracy of this information but do not offer it as counsel or legal advice. Consult an attorney for advice concerning your specific situation.