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Copyright Resources

Creating Links for Canvas

Using Permalinks

One of the best ways to avoid copyright problems is to link to articles, e-book chapters or e-books that are already licensed for use by the University. For more information about creating linked items, ask a librarian. This can be done by using a permalink, also known as durable links, persistent links, stable links or stable URLs.

We proxy links through the library server to:

  • create access from off-campus
  • prevent unauthorized use of licensed resources

You can either paste the hyperlink into your Canvas readings list or embed the hyperlink into your citation for a cleaner presentation.

Creating a Proxied Link

All links to pages within the library's databases should contain the URL prefix of If you do not see this at the beginning of your URL, copy-and-paste it before the http://. This will prompt the user to log in through the MSU proxy server in order to access articles in the library's databases.

For more information, see:

E-Reserves, Canvas and Coursepacks

What is considered Fair Use when posting course materials through E-Reserves?

  • 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 Electronic Reserves."

Can I load readings into Canvas?

Yes, but uploading copyrighted readings into Canvas does not change the necessity of running a Fair Use analysis, employing the TEACH Act or of seeking permissions when necessary. The Miller Nichols Library Access Services Department can assist your handling of course reading by loading materials into your Blackboard course site.

I've been told I should use a permalink rather than upload a pdf of an article. Why? That seems like more work.

When you upload a PDF to Canvas, you're creating a duplicate copy of the article, which may be a copyright or license violation. By creating a permalink to the article in a library database, you're linking to a copy of the article which the library has already licensed for use by students and faculty. Additionally, the library will be able to track the usage of the articles used, which is helpful when making decisions about which journal subscriptions to retain during following budget years. If a PDF file is uploaded and the library cannot track the usage of that journal, the library may not realize it's being used.

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 or to the E-Reserves site. The E-Reserve site must be password protected.

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 faculty must weigh all the fair use factors. Bear in mind that obtaining permissions through the Copyright Clearance Center is, often, an easy process. In order to mitigate risk to the University, it is library policy to seek permission for material that is reused on reserve that the library does not own.

The 2012 Georgia State University district court case on e-reserves dismissed the Classroom Guidelines which is the document restricting the reuse of copyrighted materials. This case only applies to the Georgia 6th District but is informative for us.

A good, risk-free way to proceed is to use University licensed resources which contain copyright clearances.

Is scanning or digitizing my readings considered making a copy?

Yes, scanning a reading would be considered making a copy, as you are creating a digital copy of an item that previously existed in print and may be subject to redistribution. If the request for a scanned item exceeds Fair Use (about 10%), consider making a print reserve copy of your material available.

What about using electronic reserves for music, audio or video recordings?

This is a time when faculty are encouraged, whenever possible, to link to University licensed databases or resources such as Alexander Street, or Naxos Music Library. The Guidelines for Educational Uses of Music lay out helpful detail.

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. Faculty may 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. 

The best way to transmit media in Canvas in order to be in compliance with the TEACH Act is with the use of streaming. For information on whether your film can be streamed in Canvas and alternatives if it cannot, please contact the library.

Other suggested methods for protecting copyrighted images or photos include:

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

When considering the use of 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.

How Do You Get Articles to Your Students?

When you assign your students articles to read for a class you have a few options for providing access to those articles via Canvas:

  1. Give them the citations and tell them to find the articles.
  2. Retrieve the articles yourself and upload your copy to Canvas.
  3. Submit a request through Sprague Library’s Electronic Reserves process.
  4. Provide a direct link to the article in the library database.

Option 1 will likely frustrate your students. Depending on the database vendor, option 2 may be a violation of copyright law*. Option 3 is feasible but takes some time. Sprague Library recommends option 4 – providing a direct link – for those articles that are available electronically.

Linking to eResources

When linking to a journal article in a database, it might be tempting just to grab the URL from the browser's URL window. Don't! That link is often date and time stamped, and won't work tomorrow. A better idea is to provide students with persistent links (also called permalinks) to the articles you want them to read on Canvas. Most databases accessible through Sprague Library provide permalinks within record results.

Permalinks also let us to know what resources are being used in courses – this helps the Library decide what databases and resources to maintain. For more information about Copyright, eReserves and Canvas, please visit our Canvas guide:

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