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Textbook Alternatives & Open Educational Resources (OER): What About Copyright?

Learn More About Copyright Issues

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Should you be concerned about violating copyright provisions when using library resources or Open Educational Resources (OER) in your Canvas course site or sharing them with your students?  Well, you should always consider the copyright implications of using any material in your teaching, but the following links can help you identify when copyright can be an issue.

Creative Commons Licensed Content

Much OER content is licensed through Creative Commons, which allows content creators to easily mark their creations as shareable.  There are six levels of licenses that may be placed on a work.  Use the Creative Commons License creator to create your own license statement to add to a Web page.

Linking to Library Resources

For articles, e-books, and other information sources owned by the Miami libraries, you can avoid copyright complications by linking to those items on the vendor's website or in a database rather than copying it into your Canvas course.  Students can then click a link to access the resource.  See the instructions for doing so in two collections of full-text articles.

Fair Use

Educational uses of copyrighted materials may also be allowed under Fair Use provisions for educators.  You can review the Four Factors of Fair Use to help you analyze your usage situation.


The Technology, Education and Copyright Harmonization Act (2002) (revised Sections 110(2) and 112 of the U.S. Copyright Law), also referred to as the TEACH Act, provides guidelines for using copyrighted material in e-learning courses.  In some cases it extends Fair Use provisions into the online education environment.  See this helpful guide.

More Information

Take a look at Using E-Resources in Your Course:  Copyright and Fair Use for resources and approaches to using these items.



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