Copyright and Fair Use


Repeated use over multiple semesters weighs against fair use.  For repeated use, you will likely need to get permission from the copyright holder.

Best Practices

Best Practices For Posting Readings in Blackboard

1. If the material is protected by copyright, conduct a Fair Use analysis. The Fair Use doctrine permits certain uses without the copyright owner’s permission. Whether a use is fair or not depends on four factors. We recommend using a Fair Use Checklist to help determine if posting a reading to Blackboard is fair, or if you need to seek permission.

2. It’s usually better to link to an e-resource than to post PDFs. E-resources are governed by licenses that dictate what you can do legally with these materials. Linking to the full-text of an e-resource obviates the need to conduct a fair use analysis, and you avoid any potential license restrictions related to sharing PDFs. When in doubt about what a license permits, check the terms of use.

3. For library e-resources, it’s best to proxy the permalink. Permanent URLs with a proxy prefix make it easier for your students to access materials on or off campus. 

4. For library e-books, verify the number of people that can use them. Not all e-books are created equal. Some allow multiple users to read it; others allow only one at a time. Some limit the number of uses, which means access could end unexpectedly. Before assigning an e-book, make sure it permits unlimited users. 

5. If you post a PDF, be sure to include a copyright notice and attribution. You should provide attribution for the original creator and copyright owner, and make sure your students know the material may be protected by copyright. We recommend including a copy of the book’s title and copyright pages, along with a clearly visible notice statement indicating copyright protection and warning against further reproduction or distribution.

6. Remember that the Libraries are here to help. For questions contact your subject librarian or send your question to or


This section adapted from the University of Maryland Libraries copyright libguide.