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Copyrighted Material in Canvas Faculty Guide

Guidance and information on the use of copyrighted materials in Canvas.

Click for larger image. Transcription on following slide.


Using Copyrighted Material in Canvas

  • Internet content (YouTube video, blog post, website). DO THIS: Link to the original website and include a citation, and you're done!
  • Open access (from an open journal, in an open repository, government report). DO THIS: Use the permalink or upload PDF and include a citation, and you're done!
  • Library databases* (article, ebook, conference paper). DO THIS: Find in the Library catalog, use the Share link and include a citation, and you're done! *Note: Harvard Business Review (HBR) case studies are only available through use of an HBR coursepack.
  • Everything else (not held by the Library, original source unknown, other questions). DO THIS: Get in touch with a librarian!

Image by Vicky Ludas Orlofsky (, 2021.


Research is an ongoing conversation between scholars, learning from each other and building on the work of predecessors. However, the laws protecting the rights of copyright holders can get in the way of using this research in course planning.

There have always been issues with the use of copyrighted materials in education, whether the item in question is in print or digital. Course materials uploaded to an online learning management system such as Canvas involve copyright laws but also in some cases the publisher's license, and "educational use" is not always enough to gain permission to use these materials. The information in this guide can help you figure out the correct usage of course materials.


The Stevens copyright policy states that permission must be obtained from the copyright holder when using copyrighted materials in a course beyond what can be considered fair use, and notes that "Stevens is committed to the support of fair use principles."

What is fair use?

While copyright law limits most uses of an item to the copyright holder, certain exemptions to the law exist, including the concept of fair use. “Fair use” (17 U.S.C. §107) allows the public to use copyrighted materials without requiring permission from the copyright owner for educational purposes as well as in criticism, parody, commentary, journalism, and research.

There are four factors that determine whether a use is fair, including the purpose of the use, the nature of the copyrighted work, the amount of the work being used relative to the full work, and the effect the use might have on the market for the work.

There are no set rules for what constitutes a fair educational use as each use must be judged on its individual merits, but Supreme Court opinions on the subject have helped to establish best practices for print and digital course materials.

If your use falls under the following parameters:

Fair use factor
Practical application

Purpose of the use

A nonprofit educational institution;

Fits the specific pedagogical needs of the instructor;

Access limited to enrolled students solely for the duration of the semester; and

Accompanied by full attribution of the work

Nature of the work

Factual rather than creative

Amount of the work being used

A portion rather than the whole (example: a chapter rather than full book)

Market effect of the use

Little to no economic effect on the copyrighted work

then the use can likely be considered fair, though please note this explanation does not guarantee fair use protections.

Faculty are encouraged to link out to course materials whenever possible to avoid having to assess the parameters of fair use. You can also consider asking permission for the use from the copyright holder.

Adapted in part from Copyright in the Classroom | UC Copyright (


Please email to consult with a librarian for guidance on the use of copyrighted course materials.

For all Canvas-related questions, please email to create a support ticket.


Posting an item to Canvas for educational purposes does not exempt an instructor from copyright regulations. The information presented here provides guidance but should not be considered legal advice.