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Copyright: Copyright & Canvas

Copyright Best Practices

What is allowed?

Under the “fair use” provision of copyright law, a person may make limited use of another author’s work without asking permission. As I note elsewhere in this guide:

"There's no one right answer as to what constitutes a "fair use" of a particular copyrighted work. The answer varies from situation to situation."

Posting an item to Canvas does not exempt an instructor from copyright regulations. Therefore, instructors are encouraged to consult these guidelines. In order of preference, these include: 

  1. Link to your article from a library database (see below for more information on locating persistent links to articles).
  2. If a persistent link is unavailable, complete a Fair Use Evaluation, scan your article, and then upload it to Canvas.
  3. Repeated use over multiple semesters weighs against fair use. For repeated use, you will likely need to contact the publisher and request permission.


Item Probably Allowed Not allowed
Web site containing copyrighted material Link to the web site in Canvas Copying and pasting the information into Canvas
Copyrighted web image Must be educational in nature; display in Canvas for one semester Repeated use over multiple semesters
Article from a library database Direct linking to article allowed Copying and pasting the article into Canvas
Scanned copyrighted image Must be educational in nature; display in Canvas for one semester Repeated use over multiple semesters
Scanned chapter from a book

5% of the total work if in-print, 10% of the total work if out-of-print--allowed for only one semester

More than the allotted percents or repeated use over multiple semesters
Scanned article from a journal, trade publication, or magazine A single article for one semester Multiple articles from the same publication or repeated use over multiple semesters
Audio files No more than 30 seconds without permission Repeated use over multiple semesters
Video files 10% or three minutes, whichever is less

Repeated use over multiple semesters


(The courts are not bound by these amounts and the Copyright Act contains no such amounts. Therefore it is always advisable to err on the side of caution and complete your own Fair Use Evaluation before scanning and posting in Canvas or other Learning managment software.) 

Persistent Links:

If you copy a database link from your Internet browser into Canvas, that link will eventually stop working because it is a dynamic, non-static link. To eliminate this problem, most database companies now offer persistent links for their articles. Persistent links (also known as persistent URLs) are stable links that will consistently take students to a particular full-text article in a library database.

Note that to ensure access by off-campus users, all persistent links should include proxy information in the first segment of the URL:

For example, if you wanted to link to the following persistent URL (noted in bold)  from the "course documents" section of Canvas, then it should look like this:

Need help locating a persistent link in a particular library database? See the below for a list of library databases with persistent URLs. Click here for a guide on how to use persistent URLs in Canvas.


Questions about which library databases have persistent URLs or on how to set up a persistent link in Canvas? Please contact:

  • Brittany Rodgers (x 4183 or
  • Nithin Lakshmana (x4206 or


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