As Saint Mary’s Faculty, you are responsible for abiding by copyright. Learn how to legally share resources with students below.

What Is Copyright?

Copyright is a law that protects authors of original works from having their works distributed without receiving compensation. Consequently, unless you own the exclusive copyright for an item or paid for permission to use the item, you cannot:

  • make copies of;
  • create derivative works from; or
  • distribute the item to others.

For an overview of copyright, watch Copyright Basics, a video created by the Copyright Clearance Center.

Common Violations in Higher Education

  • Emailing copyrighted PDFs to students
  • Uploading copyrighted PDFs to Canvas
  • Linking to copyrighted videos

How to Legally Share Resources

Link in Canvas

Because emailing PDFs to students and uploading PDFs to Canvas violates copyright law, we recommend that you link to library resources in Canvas, which ensures that:

  • Saint Mary’s meets legal standards; and
  • Authors and copyright holders are compensated for their work.

Learn how to add links to library resources in Canvas. Note: Vendors sometimes will withdraw articles, ebooks, and streaming videos from our collections, so you will need to verify each semester that we still have access to your item in the libraries.

Suggest a Purchase

If we do not own the item you want to use, you can suggest a purchase. Note: There may be delays related to budgetary restrictions, vendor response times, and item processing, so we recommend that you request items at least 3-4 weeks prior to your desired use date.

Assess Fair Use

If none of the options above work, you will need to either find a similar item or determine if you can use your item under Fair Use.

What Is Fair Use?

Copyright law has an exception called Fair Use, which enables educators to make and distribute copies of traditionally copyrighted materials without seeking permission from the copyright holder. To determine if you items fall under Fair Use, you will need to consider the:

  • Purpose of Use
    The purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes – educational use often falls under Fair Use, while for-profit use never does.
  • Nature of the Copyrighted Work
    Is the work a non-copyrightable fact or a very copyrightable creative work?
  • Portion of the Copyrighted Work
    The amount of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole – less is better. Fair use takes into account the brevity of the portion of the work.
  • Effect of Your Use
    The effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work – by sharing the item, are you robbing the author/creator of profits?

Fair Use Checklist

Use this checklist, which was developed by the Columbia University Copyright Advisory Office, to determine if you can share material without obtaining copyright permission. Learn more about Fair Use from the United States Copyright Office.

Request a Coursepack

If your item does not fall under Fair Use, and you do not want to find a similar resource, you will need to request a coursepack through Saint Mary’s Bookstores, who will make your item legally available to students by:

  1. Requesting copyright permission for your item(s);
  2. Printing and binding your item(s);
  3. Making the coursepack available to your students for purchase in the Bookstore.

Coursepacks can include articles, book chapters, case studies, course notes, and your own works. For more information about coursepacks, contact Saint Mary’s Bookstores on either the Winona Campus or Twin Cities Campus.

How to Find Similar Resources


  1. Google Scholar
    You can find similar articles and books quickly by using Google Scholar’s Cited By feature to find out who cited your item. Note: Before choosing an article, verify that Saint Mary’s Libraries has access to it by getting the full text.
  2. SuperSearch
    Search your topic to find similar articles.

Book Chapters

  1. SuperSearch
    Search for ebooks in SuperSearch.
  2. Open Educational Resources
    Search for open educational resources (OERs), which are freely available textbooks written by faculty at other institutions, locally from Minnesota and worldwide.
  3. Course Reserves
    Contact us to place a book on reserve for your students.


Browse our streaming video collections for similar content.


Search Creative Commons to discover images that are free to use.


Feel free to contact us with copyright questions. We’re happy to help!


How much of a book can I copy and share with students?

There is no set percentage or number of pages that qualifies as Fair Use; each situation must be evaluated individually. Use the criteria and checklist above to evaluate fair use.

Assigned textbooks are included as a permissible type of material to excerpt. The faculty member or the Libraries must own a copy of the entire book in order to share a Fair Use portion of it with students; books obtained through interlibrary loan may not be posted online.

Journal articles can also be shared. The consensus among the academic community is that sharing one journal article from a single issue is permissible. The faculty member or Saint Mary’s Libraries must own a copy of the article in order to share it with students; articles obtained through interlibrary loan may not be posted online. To use an article for more than one semester, you will need to contact the Bookstores to create a coursepack. Note: You will need to request the coursepack six weeks prior to the start of your course.

All uploaded material needs to have a copyright statement included as the first page.

1. Cambridge University Press v. Patton, Nos. 12-14676, 12-15147, 2014 WL 5303007, at *17 (C.A.11 (Ga.)).

Can I share portions of videos and audio clips through Canvas?

Yes, with a grain of salt. The Technology, Education and Copyright Harmonization Act (TEACH Act) allows for instructors to electronically share “reasonable and limited portions” of almost any type of work-including video and audio clips. The Act does not authorize an electronic media free-for-all, however. All media shared must be legally-made copies. (Use the Fair Use Checklist developed by the Columbia University Copyright Advisory Office to determine if you can share material without obtaining copyright permission.)

Instructors and students must be made aware of and held responsible to abide by all copyright restrictions on the digital files. These restrictions include only showing materials directly related to class content, not retaining copies of the materials after the course has ended, and avoiding unauthorized distribution of the materials. Remember, digital resources have the same copyright protection as do tangible, physical resources.

Can I include Internet images in PowerPoint presentations?

Yes. The Copyright Act allows for display of images in the classroom without infringing on copyright as long as each image source is attributed. Should an instructor wish to post the PowerPoint to Canvas or use the PowerPoint semester after semester, the instructor needs to check the copyright restrictions of each image. Verify that the images may be legally downloaded, used for non-profit, educational purposes, and that use of the image fits under the fair use doctrine of the Copyright Act (librarians will assist you with this). Written permission from the copyright holder for repeated showings of the image may need to be obtained.

To locate images with education-friendly copyright restrictions, please visit the Creative Commons search page.

Can I use Harvard Business Review articles in class?

No. Harvard Business Publishing has a licensing restriction that prohibits using material from any of their publications (articles, case studies) accessible through academic databases as assigned course material. This ban includes articles from the Harvard Business Review. Harvard Business Publishing also restricts linking to their articles through Canvas. Should you wish to do any of the above, you will need to contact Harvard Business Publishing for rates and permission.

These licensing restrictions are included at the end of all HBR articles; please refer to their licensing statement for more information (included below). A good rule of thumb to follow before linking to or requiring the reading of any journal article is to check each individual publisher’s copyright statement, usually available at the end of each journal article.

Harvard Business Review Notice of Use Restrictions, May 2009. Harvard Business Review and Harvard Business Publishing Newsletter content on EBSCOhost is licensed for the private individual use of authorized EBSCOhost users. It is not intended for use as assigned course material in academic institutions nor as corporate learning or training materials in businesses. Academic licensees may not use this content in electronic reserves, electronic course packs, persistent linking from syllabi or by any other means of incorporating the content into course resources. Business licensees may not host this content on learning management systems or use persistent linking or other means to incorporate the content into learning management systems. Harvard Business Publishing will be pleased to grant permission to make this content available through such means. For rates and permission, contact

Faculty who wish to assign HBR cases and articles as required readings should work with the Barnes and Noble Bookstore to create coursepacks that students would then purchase in order to comply with copyright restrictions.

Additional Resources

Public Statement of Library Copyright Specialists: Fair Use & Emergency Remote Teaching & Research

This Statement is meant to provide clarity for U.S. colleges and universities about how copyright law applies to the many facets of remote teaching and research in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak

Resources on Copyright & Emergency Remote Teaching & Research

From the United States Copyright Office, Library of Congress. Key information. Includes Reproduction of Copyrighted Works by Educators and Librarians

Copyright for the Rest of Us: A Guide for People Who Aren’t Lawyers

Copyright Information and Education

From the University of Minnesota, a comprehensive site for copyright issues affecting teaching, research, and library use. Includes a Copyright Decision Map.

Copyright Issues in the Public Performance of Music

A SlideShare presentation from a King’s University librarian.

Fair Use Infographic

Refutes 10 popular misconceptions about fair use

Fair Use Checklist

From Columbia University

Rutgers Copyright for Students