chat loading...
Skip to Main Content

Copyright Resources


Q. Can I post an article to Canvas for my students to read?

A. Yes, if you have obtained copyright permission, you may post the article.  However, if you have not obtained permission, please provide a link to the article.  For more details, see the page to the left "linking to library resources."

Q. Why am I being told to link to content in Canvas rather than post a PDF?

A. Linking is considered best practice as providing a link to content is not the same as posting a reproduction (i.e. a PDF copy or embedded video).  You may be able to post some content given the guidelines on copying and educational exceptions but the safest way to provide content to students is linking to a legal copy of the material.

Q. What kind of statement should I include in my Canvas class when I post copyrighted materials?

A. Here is an example you can use and modify:

All readings posted on Canvas are intended for use in this class only. Copying, e-mailing, or posting these materials online for any other purpose without the copyright holder's express written consent may be prohibited by law. For more information about copyright, including information about how to obtain permission to use a copyrighted work, please see the U.S. Copyright Office's Frequently Asked Questions page:


Q. May I create a packet of photocopied articles for students?

A. The library can assist you in obtaining permission for a course pack.  Please see the Course Packs and Handouts page to the left for more information.

Q. May I email articles to my students?

A. You may send links to material via email to your students.  All of the library's database have a built-in email feature to facilitate this type of sharing.


Q. Can I photocopy a textbook for my students if it is too expensive?

A. No, but you may place a book on reserve in the library.  Please see the "library course reserves" page on the left for more details.

Q. Can I photocopy portions of a textbook for my students while they are waiting for their textbook to arrive?

A. If students have already ordered a copy of the textbook and there is an unavoidable delay in delivery, it is permissible to copy small portions of the text to distribute to students while they wait for those materials to arrive.


Q. Can I show a film in my class?

A. Yes, provided the film relates to  your course content and only your enrolled students are in attendance.

Q. Can I stream videos from Netflix in my class?

A. Films shown in class must be for an educational purpose that supports the course curriculum. Netflix’s Policy, Educational Screenings of Documentaries, includes the permission to show one of their “original” films one-time in a non-profit, non-commercial setting.  Use of materials outside this category may be used so long as it is shown in the course of “face-to-face teaching activities” that take place in a classroom and you have a legitimate copy of the film.

Q. Can I show a recorded news segment, film, etc. in my course?

A. You can record a news segment to share with your student in class provided that it relates to your course content and only student in your class are viewing it.

Q. Where can I find copyright free images or images?

A. The following sites offer copyright free images:

  • Google Advanced Search
  • Bucket Listy
  • PixaBay
  • StockSnap
  • UnSplash
  • NegativeSpace
  • Death to the Stock Photo
  • Picjumbo
  • Free Nature Stock
  • Pexels
  • Wikimedia Commons


Q. What does “spontaneous use” mean?

A. The copying is at the instance and inspiration of the individual teacher, and the inspiration and decision to use the work and the moment of its use for maximum teaching effectiveness are so close in time that it would be unreasonable to expect a timely reply to a request for permission.

Q. What rights are protected for copyright owners under the copyright law?

A. The rights of reproduction, distribution, public display, performance, and the preparation of derivative works are all protected. If you want to use a copyrighted work in any of these ways you either need to follow Fair Use Guidelines or obtain written permission from the copyright owner.

Q. Do copyright laws apply to students, and can students be held liable for breaking copyright law?

A. Yes, and yes. Everyone is governed by copyright law and students have been sued in the past for violating copyright laws. Upon enrollment, each student becomes a full member of the Principia community of scholars. Every Principia student is subject to the copyright laws and is responsible for understanding and implementing Principia Copyright and Fair Use Policy and Procedures. It is an expectation that all students, faculty and staff at Principia will abide by these laws.

Q. How does copyright law apply to things you can download?

A. It is a violation of copyright law to download copyrighted materials from the internet without paying for them unless you have proof of permission from the copyright holder. So, you either need to purchase or get the copyright owner’s permission to download audio files, video files, graphics, software and text materials. For more details see Principia’s Technology Use Policy:

Q. If there is no copyright symbol ©, or a statement of copyright on a work, is it safe to assume that it is not copyrighted?

A. No. Works in a tangible medium (things like books, periodicals, music, paintings, photography, sculpture, video, sound recordings, software, websites, databases, etc.) are automatically protected under copyright law. The exceptions are works created by the United States federal government, works created on a Creative Commons license, and works in the public domain.

Q. If I scan or copy an item that is on Reserve for my class at the Library, is it ok to share that copy or file with other students in my class?

A. No. You may make a print or scanned copy for your own personal use, but the right to redistribute that copy or to make multiple copies is not consistent with Fair Use and it therefore prohibited under copyright law.

Web Design Basics

  • When in doubt, link. It is always best to provide a link to an original source rather than pasting in someone else’s content.
  • Always provide attribution to content unless it has a Creative Commons No Attribution license.
  • Use images that are free of copyright. See our  list of sites with copyright-free images.
  • Look for content created by the United States federal government – it is free of copyright
  • Look for content created under Creative Commons licenses – these are also copyright free, however, they generally expect proper attribution unless stated otherwise