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Copyright and Fair Use

A guide for creating and using copyrighted materials in education.

How much can I use?

Copyright law does not provide exact guidelines for how much of a work you can post for a course reading.  However, the Agreement on Guidelines for Classroom Copyright in Not-for-Profit Educational Institutions (see full text within Reproduction of Copyrighted Works by Educators and Librarians) provides the following definitions for brevity:

Article from a periodical Less than 2500 words
Book excerpt Not more than 1,000 words or 10% of work (whichever is less)
Poetry from a collection Complete poem if less than 250 words
Short story or essay from a collection Less than 2500 words
Illustrations One chart, graph, diagram, drawing, cartoon or picture per book or periodical issue

Note that these are not definitive guidelines but suggestions that must be weighed with the other three factors of fair use to make a proper determination.

Creating Course Packs

Individual readings bound in course packs are also subject to copyright law.  

Individual faculty can submit the course pack materials through Barnes and Noble Education or by contacting the campus bookstore manager. Upon completion, the course packs are shipped to and sold at our campus bookstore. Contact the Bookstore for more information about this process (x8350;


Posting Readings to Moodle

If you wish to post individual readings to your course Moodle page, it is best to start by determining whether you need to seek permission in the first place.

Do you need to seek permission?

  • Is the work you want to use in the public domain?  See copyright terms.
  • Is the work you want to use published in an open source journal?  Identifiy the publisher of the journal and see if it is listed in the Directory of Open Access Journals, a comprehensive list of open access scientific and scholarly journals.
  • Does the work have a Creative Commons License attribution?  This should be clearly evident on the document.  If it does fall under Creative Commons licensing, note what type of license and follow any attribution instructions.

If you answered YES to any of the questions above, good news!  You do not need to seek permission to use the work.  However, it is still a good idea to provide a citation to the original work, and in some cases, this is required (e.g. Creative Commons works).

If your reading is under copyright, follow the three steps below:

1) Is your reading available through Eckerd College Library’s databases?

  • YES. Post persistent link to Moodle page (see instructions below). Ask a librarian if you need more assistance.
  • NO. See question 2.
  • NOTE – As part of our licensing practices, the library has already negotiated classroom use for the majority of our databases and e-journals, but use of persistent links is required for this agreement. E-Books are included with this but have different access restrictions. Talk to a librarian for more information.

2) Does your use of the work fall under current Fair Use guidelines?  See information on Fair Use on the Copyright tab to determine whether your use of the reading falls within Fair Use guidelines.

  • YES. Proceed to Question 3.
  • NO. Seek permission from the original copyright holder or through the Copyright Clearance Center. Then proceed to question 3.
  • NOTE - One common situation that IS NOT consistent with fair use is using the same reading in a class year after year.  This also applies for readings used in multiple sections of the same course taught by different professors, as in the case with Human Experience and Quest for Meaning.  It is recommended that permission be obtained for these readings. Another option is to find alternative readings to use instead.

3) If your use falls within fair use guidelines, did you or the library legally (e.g. you or the library own a copy, it is not borrowed from another library) obtain the item?

  • YES. Scan the reading and post the PDF to the Moodle page, including a full citation to the original source of the reading.
  • NO. Obtain a legal copy through your discipline, collegium, or library. Then scan and post the reading to Moodle.

Adding Persistent Links from Library Databases

Persistent links are permanent or stable links to an electronic article or resource from a library database that will allow a user to access the article at a later time.  When linking to resources in library databases, it is best to use the persistent or durable links provided by the database because merely copying the URL will not work, as those contain session information which changes per user.  The persistent link will also have our proxy information appended to it, which means that the link will work for both on and off-campus users. Digital Object Identifiers (DOIs) will also provide links to the publisher version of an electronic article, but may not include our proxy information for access the link remotely.

Persistent links are available through most library databases.  Here are instructions for accessing them from a number of our resources:

In OneSearch:

1) Search for an article or e-Book relevant to your course.

2) Click on the article title to see the article record, containing options for Cite, Permalink, and Pin on the right.

3) Click the Permalink button.  Copy and paste this link to your course Moodle page where you would like the article to appear

.permalink screenshot.

When your students click on this link, they will be taken OneSearch to view the full text of the article.



In PsycNET:

1) In PsycNET, search for an article relevant to your course.

2) Click on the article title to see the article record.

3) In the Citation section, note the hyperlinked DOI (digital object identifier) code, circled in orange below. This contains the persistent link for the article.  Right click the link to copy the link and then paste it to your course Moodle page.

DOI in PsycNet results


In ARTstor

On the item detail page, the persistent link is on the right side of the image.  Click the 'Copy' button to copy the link.

artstor persistent links

For more information or help with using persistent links, contact e-Resources librarian, Nancy Schuler at (x8357).

Key Readings for Educators

Know Your Copy Rights logo

Download a copy of Know Your Copy Rights: What You Can Do aimed at faculty and teaching assistants.

Also see the one-page What You Can Do chart.


Reproduction of copyrighted works cover

The Reproduction of Copyrighted Works by Educators and Librarians from the Library of Congress includes guidelines for classroom copying, as well as educational uses of music.

copyright for people cover

Copyright For The Rest Of Us: A Guide For People Who Aren’t Lawyers by Keyser, Marcia W. Open access book available under a Creative Commons license.