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Library and Canvas Integration

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Copyright Guidelines

Course Materials and Fair Use

Canvas and Library course reserves each provide a password-protected environment to allow posting of curricular materials for enrolled students.

Boston College policies for use of Canvas and Library course reserves comply with U.S. Copyright Law, and are developed in accordance with the American Library Association guidelines for Applying Fair Use in the Development of Electronic Reserves Systems and the Association of Research Libraries' Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Academic and Research Libraries (pdf).

Principle One of the Code states that “It is fair use to make appropriately tailored course-related content available to enrolled students via digital networks.”

Fair use can be applied to all types of copyrighted materials such as text, images, audio, or video, as long as the material is legally acquired. The fair use exception to the copyright holder’s exclusive rights requires a flexible balancing test based on the particular context in each instance. A good faith effort must be made to assess overall whether a use is fair by considering

  • the character of the use,
  • the nature of the work to be used,
  • the amount used in proportion to the whole and
  • the impact on the market for the work. 

Educational use favors a fair use outcome, but satisfies only the first factor. The following have become standard practice to assist a fair use determination:

  • Avoid posting content primarily marketed for use in courses (textbooks or workbooks, for instance).
  • Terminate students’ access to the course material when the course is over.
  • Embed links in a password protected environment restricted to a class, such as a Canvas course site.
  • Accompany links with bibliographic information acknowledging the source, and a caution against using or sharing the media inappropriately.
  • Use only the amount of the material needed to accomplish the educational objective.
  • Unless a license has been purchased to stream an entire video, link only to excerpts that are, collectively, no longer than needed to accomplish the educational objective (more than one clip may be used).
  • Provide additional context for the materials (such as associating it with commentary, discussion questions or a related assignment).

Where to Get Help

More information on fair use is available on the Libraries’ Copyright and Scholarship guide.

Licensed Library Resources and Course Reserves

If material is available in a database licensed for use by the Libraries, licenses usually allow the material to be posted or linked in Canvas or course reserves. Linking to material on websites does not typically require a fair use determination.