Guidelines for Course Management Systems
The following information is based on
Cornell's Electronic Course Content Guidelines and the
CONFU Educational Fair Use Guidelines for Distance Learning.
Copyright law of the United States (Title 17 of the United States Code) governs making of photocopies or other reproductions of copyrighted material. The making of an electronic copy of a copyrighted work by any means (e.g., scanning, digitizing, ripping, etc.) constitutes reproduction that is governed by copyright law.
The copyright principles that apply to instructional use of copyrighted works in electronic environments are the same as those that apply to such use in paper environments. Any use of copyrighted electronic course content that would require permission from the copyright owner if the materials were part of a printed coursepack (previous section) likewise requires the copyright owner's permission when made available in electronic format.
There are Fair Use options for protection for copying or disseminating copyrighted works without obtaining permission from the copyright owner under certain circumstances. They apply to both paper and electronic environments.
Permission may be required for the use of copyrighted material as electronic course content even when such material is:
- available elsewhere on the internet;
- being used in a course for the first time; or
- characterized for purposes of course use as optional, supplemental, or ancillary reading material, rather than as required, assigned, or recommended reading material.
Link to materials already legally available at another site rather than scanning or making a digital copy whenever possible.
No one should post course content consisting of copyrighted works or portions of such works in electronic form without first either:
- obtaining the permission of the copyright owner, or
- concluding after reasonable inquiry, that the use qualifies as a fair use or other exempt or licensed use for which permission is not required.
To the extent technologically feasible, instructors should use passwords, ID numbers, or other appropriate means to limit access to copyrighted electronic course content to students enrolled in the course or other individuals requiring access to the course materials for purposes of conducting the course. The availability of such content to students should terminate when the students have completed the course.
Limit materials to
- single articles or chapters; several charts, graphs or illustrations; or other small parts of a work
- if performance of others' works that a sparing portion is used
- a small part of the materials required for the course
- copies of materials that a faculty member or the library already possesses legally (i.e., by purchase, license, fair use, interlibrary loan, etc.).
Copies of copyrighted works, regardless of their format, should include proper attribution and copyright notices.
- Instructors should not direct or encourage students to print unauthorized copies of course content. Students seeking information about how to make or acquire personal copies for purposes of private study, scholarship, or research should be directed to consult available resources.
- Obtain permission for materials that will be used repeatedly by the same instructor for the same class.