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You may make readings available electronically to your students by posting them in Canvas. The libraries can help with getting copyright permission to post the readings. The UMKC Bookstore also provides other options, including Open Educational Resources (OERS), UMKC Publishing (custom course readers/packets), and AutoAccess, as detailed on the UMKC Bookstore Faculty Resources page.

Information and FAQs
1. What are my options for supplying students with supplemental course readings?
2. What is considered Fair Use when posting course readings?
3. Can I post readings I have obtained through interlibrary loan (ILL) to Canvas?
4. What is required when posting class readings?
5. Can I reuse my readings semester after semester?
6. Is scanning or digitizing considered making a copy?
7. What about using electronic reserves for images, music, audio or video recordings?
8. What about using images, music, audio or video recordings in Canvas?
9. What about using and sharing on Canvas Commons?

1. What are my options for supplying students with supplemental course materials and readings?




Canvas is a self-contained site, so it is easier and more readily accessible to students. Always link to a copyrighted item rather than posting it, if possible.

You may post copyrighted readings whenever needed as long as the reading complies with the TEACH Act or Fair Use. Fair Use applies to the use of copyrighted textual materials in the LMS; the TEACH Act or Fair Use applies to copyrighted material that is displayed or performed.

The library will pay for permissions and royalty payments up to $100 per course.



You will have to run your own fair use or TEACH Act analysis. Ask the library for help if needed.

If copyright permissions exceed $100, you will have to cover them through other means, such as department funds, or consider alternative course readings.

UMKC Publishing


The UMKC Bookstore can create custom course readers/packets for your class readings. The Bookstore will arrange for permissions and recover these costs when students purchase the coursepacks. You can also check the Copyright Clearance Center website for permission fees yourself.




Preparing custom course readers/packets requires the longest lead time. Coursepacks cannot be put on library reserve without additional permissions, which can be purchased through the Copyright Clearance Center website and paid for from departmental or other funds.

2. What is considered Fair Use when posting course materials?
This is a summary. The UM Collected Rules and Regulations follow the "Classroom Guidelines"  for posting course materials.

  • a single chapter from a book
  • a single article from a periodical or newspaper
  • a single short story or short essay (less than 2,500 words)
  • one short poem (less than 250 words)
  • one chart, graph, diagram, drawing, cartoon or picture per book, periodical, or newspaper issue
  • all lecture notes, answer keys, tests, etc. that are owned by faculty
  • The Music Library Association has a helpful statement on the "Digital Transmission of Audio Reserves."

3. Can I post readings I have obtained through interlibrary loan (ILL) to Canvas?
While UMKC materials are automatically licensed for course use, this is not true of most items obtained through interlibrary loan (ILL). If you obtained a reading through interlibrary loan, work through the following guiding questions to help you determine if you might need a license in order to post your reading in Canvas. To answer these questions, you may need to review introductory pages of the PDF or email(s) you received from ILL regarding the material:

  • Was the reading scanned from print material held in a UMKC library or retrieved through a UMKC online resource? If so, you do not need a license; UMKC materials are automatically licensed for course use. For electronic resources, be sure to link to the resource rather than posting the pdf; see our guide on Linking to Library Resources.
  • Was the reading found by ILL freely available on the Web? If so, you do not need a license; materials available through open access are free for you to use. Providing the direct link to the material is the best practice in these cases (rather than downloading and posting the file).
  • Was the reading scanned from print material published in 1928 (as of Jan 1, 2023) or earlier? If so, this material is in the public domain; the copyright has expired and you are free to post it in Canvas.
  • Was the reading obtained from another library's collection (not a UMKC Library)? If so, conduct a fair use analysis. The UMKC Copyright Support Team has developed an easy-to-use Fair Use Checklist which you can use to document your determinations on course materials and retain documentation in your records.
  • Was the reading obtained through a purchase made by UMKC Interlibrary Loan on your behalf? If so, you must obtain separate licensing in order to post the material in Canvas.

When providing course readings for your students, conduct a fair use analysis for each resource, every course, every semester. The UMKC Copyright Support Team has developed an easy-to-use Fair Use Checklist which you can use to document your determinations on course materials and retain documentation in your records. Determining fair use helps you calculate how much risk you are willing to take as an individual in your decision to use and distribute copyrighted information.

Using the checklist, you may find that your intention to use a reading for teaching purposes and to post it in a learning management system accessible to only your students favor fair use, but you may also find that if an article can be easily licensed or purchased through the publisher’s website, this opposes fair use. Ultimately, the decision is up to you on how much risk you are willing to assume on your part; this is a personal decision. The UMKC Copyright Support Team can provide resources for helping you make a determination, but we cannot give legal advice (e.g. a “yes” or “no” answer).

Once you have conducted your own fair use determination for a course reading, please contact the UMKC Copyright Support Team at if, in your determination, your fair use analysis opposes fair use and licensing is warranted. UMKC Libraries can help cover up to $100 in licensing fees per course. Some academic departments are willing to cover these costs as well, especially when they exceed the $100 limit. We discourage faculty from having their students obtain course readings on their own through ILL, as it results in staggeringly high copyright costs that exceed course use licensing costs.

Sometimes it can be difficult to tell how ILL items were obtained or whether or not you might need licensing. The UMKC Copyright Support Team always happy to work through the fair use checklist with you or give you an idea about licensing costs on anything now or in the future. Questions? Please contact us at

4. What is required when posting class readings?

  • Be sure posted copies carry a complete citation and a copyright notice: "This material may be protected by copyright law (Title 17 U.S. Code)"
  • Only copy the portion of the work that is necessary and no more for the intended use.
  • Only students enrolled in a course should have access to the Canvas site 

5. Can I reuse my readings semester after semester without permission?

There is no definitive answer. Repeated use of material might violate the spirit of fair use if the amount and market effect are sizeable.  When posting material in Canvas, weigh all the fair use factors. Bear in mind that obtaining permissions through the Copyright Clearance Center is often an easy process. To mitigate risk to the University, it is library policy to seek permission for material reused on reserve that the library does not own.

In Cambridge Univ. Press v. Becker, a federal district court sitting in Georgia rejected the Classroom Guidelines, which act as the source of the restriction on the reuse of copyrighted materials for e-reserves.  863 F.Supp.2d (N.D.Ga. 2012).  The case is most influential in the 11th Circuit (Alabama, Florida & Georgia), however it will also likely have highly persuasive value in other jurisdictions. 

A good, risk-free option is to link to University licensed resources.

6. Is scanning or digitizing my readings considered making a copy?

Yes. Library staff can scan documents, including documents UMKC owns, as part of our Interlibrary Loan service. If the request for a scanned item exceeds Fair Use, Library staff can secure permission up to the $100 limit per course. Law faculty: see Reserve Materials information on Law Library Collections and Resources page.

7. What about using music, audio or video?

 Link to University licensed video, audio, and music score databases, or link to content freely available online. Before linking to online content, evaluate whether it was likely posted legally.

The Music Library Association's Copyright For Music Librarians site provides additional information on music copyright.

8. What about using images, music, audio or video recordings in Canvas?

The use of these media in Canvas involve the issues of performance and display in digital transmissions. Refer to either the TEACH Act page or the Fair Use page for guidance.  Some Fair Use answers appear above. Fair Use in most cases would not grant more freedoms than the Teach Act. (Kevin Smith)

The best way to transmit media in Canvas and be in compliance with the TEACH Act is to stream. UMKC Information Services uses a Flash Interactive Media Server. See UMKC Instructional Design & Technology.

Other suggestions for protecting copyrighted images or photos:

  • use low resolution images and thumbnails
  • non-printable PDF
  • digital watermarks
  • disable the right click copy function
  • overlay the image with a transparent GIF
  • use the image as a background in a table
  • use digital rights management
  • For details see "Tips and Techniques to Protect Images on the Internet."

When considering using media in online teaching, technological protection measures or digital rights management may come into play. The Digital Millennium Copyright Act carries strict prohibitions against overriding TPMs and DRM. See the DMCA page for a brief explanation.

9. What about using and sharing on Canvas Commons?

Canvas Commons allows you to find, import, and share learning resources with other educators. When you share material through Commons, you can choose to make it available to (1) only yourself, (2) all Canvas users at UMKC, or (3) Canvas users worldwide. Before sharing your material or using material others have shared, evaluate it for copyright compliance.

Do not share content on Commons unless you personally hold the copyright or have conducted a successful fair use evaluation. Be careful that material you share on Commons does not contain content copyrighted by others, beyond the bounds of fair use. For example, do not include article pdfs downloaded from a journal publisher, JSTOR, EBSCO, ProQuest, etc. Instead, link to the articles. If you choose to share beyond UMKC, non-UMKC instructors can replace the UMKC links with links to their own institutional subscriptions.

When you share your content on Canvas Commons, you must select a content license. Your options are: copyrighted, public domain, and various Creative Commons licenses. Copyrighted is UMKC’s default license type, but may not be the best choice for your situation.

  • Copyrighted “means original content created by you.” Usually, “copyrighted” means you do not want others to use your work, but that would defeat the purpose of sharing it in Commons. Canvas documentation is unclear, but the “Copyrighted” option probably implies a license for others to use your content only within Commons and only in its original, unmodified form. If this is your intent, consider instead selecting the Creative Commons CC - Attribution NoDerivs or CC Attribution-Non-Commercial-NoDerivs license.
  • Public domain “means the work has no known copyright and is free to use without restrictions.” Only choose public domain if you are confident any content taken from others is not under copyright and you want to release you own work for any and all uses, including uses which are commercial, unattributed, and/or modified (derivative) versions.
  • Creative Commons licenses allow you to specifically detail which uses you will allow. For example, you might choose a CC – Attribution ShareAlike license to allow others to “copy, distribute, and use your course content only if they redistribute your content using the same Creative Commons license” or a CC – Attribution No Derivs license to indicate “that others can use your course content, but they may not change it in any way.”

When you use materials others have shared in Commons, be sure you follow the creator’s license terms. Also be alert for copyrighted material posted by someone who is not the copyright owner, just as when searching the general internet.


Further Resources:
University Libraries' Course Reserve Request for placing print materials on reserve
UMKC Law Library Reserve Materials information Collections and Resources page. 
University of Missouri Collected Rules and Regulations, Chapt 100.010
"Use of Copyrighted Materials in Teaching and Research"
"Reproduction of Copyrighted Works by Educators and Librarians" summarizes the House Judiciary Committee Report of 1976 (No. 94-1476), the Senate Judiciary Committee report of 1975, and congressional debates.


Linking to Library Resources

To share library articles, eBooks, and videos without copyright concerns or links breaking, see Linking to Library Resources.