Library Materials for Online Teaching

University of Cincinnati Libraries’ staff are working hard to support instructors’ needs for resources and information as they adapt an increasing amount of instruction to an online environment. The information presented below is meant to proactively address questions concerning copyright and teaching online.

Copyright in Online Teaching: Questions and Solutions

Linking to library-licensed resources (e-books, articles, videos, etc.) vs. creating and uploading copies is the best approach to:

  • Avoid copyright problems
  • Ensure accessibility
  1. Use a permanent link to the resource. Check out our useful guide on how to locate permalinks. Digital object identifiers (DOIs) are also usable as permanent links.
  2. Add a proxy URL ( in front of the permalink or DOI. This will enable students to open the article or the e-book also outside the university network. The proxy link will automatically open a login window, prompting students to enter their university username and password. You can use a proxy link generator.

If we don’t own the item you need, please contact your subject specialist librarian.

If you are not linking to library content, you should be aware of the following issues:

If you are making digital scans available for sharing on your Canvas course, please consider the following:

  • Making scans of materials (by downloading and uploading files or by scanning yourself from physical documents) can present some copyright issues, but they're not different from deciding whether to share content when you are meeting in person.
  • It’s best to be deliberate about copying entire texts. Fair use could apply during this time, but you must weigh the four factors of fair use and assess the risk. The fair use analysis for amount, for example, is to use as much as necessary to serve your purpose. Do not use more than necessary to serve the pedagogical purpose -- limit scans to what is absolutely necessary to complete the class.
  • These scans should be limited to the course participants, so uploading them to Canvas fulfills this requirement.
  • Where an instructor doesn't feel comfortable relying on fair use, a subject librarian may be able to suggest alternative content.

Content above modified from Copyright Considerations for the Harvard Community in Shifting Courses from In-Person to Online During the COVID-19 Crisis.

If it was legal to show slide images in class, it is legal to show them to students via live video conferencing or in recorded videos. As long as your new course video is being shared through course websites limited to the same enrolled students, the legal issues are fairly similar.

Many instructors routinely post a copy of their slides as a file for students to access after in-person course meetings, which also likely doesn’t present any new issues after online course meetings.

Modified from "Rapidly Shifting Your Course From In-Person to Online" by Nancy Sims, University of Minnesota Libraries.  

The Copyright Act at §110(1) (face-to-face teaching exemption) allows for the performance or display of video or film where instruction takes place with enrolled students physically present and the film is related to the curricular goals of the course.

The TEACH Act amendment to the Copyright Act permits the performance of a reasonable and limited portion of films in an online classroom. Under the TEACH Act, there is the express limitation on quantity, and an entire film will rarely constitute a reasonable and limited portion. Instructors may also rely upon fair use for showing films in an online course, although showing an entire film online also may not constitute fair use. 

Finally, the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) prohibits the circumvention of technological prevention measures (TPM) on DVDs and other media for the purpose of copying and distributing their content. Therefore, digitizing and streaming an entire DVD is not permissible unless an express exemption permits this. Currently, there is an exemption permitting faculty to circumvent TPM only to make clips of films for use in teaching and research.

Modified from Copyright on Campus: Showing Movies in Class and on Campus from University of Florida George A. Smathers Libraries.

  • Link to streaming content from courses vs. uploading content. For instructions on creating permanent links for accessing library resources off-campus see the Permalinks page in the Library Resources for Canvas guide.
  • Select streaming video from library-subscription databases.
  • Using shorter clips are usually preferred under fair use, as one of the factors is the quantity used. Library databases, such as Films on Demand and Kanopy, make it easy to create clips.
  • Use public domain/Creative Commons materials (see How Do Find Public Domain/Creative Commons Materials? below).
  • Ask students to watch streaming media individually using their own subscriptions or accounts. Use the streaming search engine JustWatch or ReelGood to find out which popular streaming services offer access to the films and how much they charge.
  • Popular streaming services now offer virtual watch parties. How to host virtual Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, Disney+, and YouTube watch parties.

Kaltura, UC's enterprise video content creation, streaming and video repository tool, makes it easy to control access at the level of individual videos, and to connect to your course in Canvas. The Kaltura FAQ page from UCIT for more info.

The addition of captions to instructional video makes the content accessible. In addition, captions and transcripts allow searching within the spoken content. These features create a new meaning and substantially transform the original work.

You also can post video to YouTube. However, videos posted on YouTube may encounter some automated copyright enforcement, such as a takedown notice, or disabling of included audio or video content.  In addition, YouTube is blocked in a number of countries, so please keep this in mind if your online course includes students from those countries.

Modified from "Rapidly Shifting Your Course From In-Person to Online" by Nancy Sims, University of Minnesota Libraries.  

Check out our Copyright FAQ guide for a curated listing of public domain available and Creative Commons licensed sources in the following categories:

Library Guides in Support of Online Teaching

Other Resources