Instructional Design and eTeaching Services - Boston College

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Boston College’s Learning Management System (LMS), Canvas, provides a password protected environment to allow posting of curricular materials for enrolled students. Boston College requires all members of its community to comply with U.S. copyright laws. Unless the material is in the public domain or the person posting the material to the LMS owns the copyright or has permission or a license that allows posting, use of the material usually requires a determination that the use falls within the fair use exception to the copyright owner’s exclusive rights.

Fair use is a flexible balancing test that requires a determination based on the particular context in each instance.  Use of the LMS is parallel to the use of library course reserves, which are developed at Boston College in accordance with the American Library Association guidelines for Applying Fair Use in the Development of Electronic Reserves Systems and the  Association of Research Libraries' Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Academic and Research Libraries.Adobe Acrobat Reader icon

  1. All types of copyrighted materials, such as exercises, case studies, articles, etc., are acceptable to post on the website as long as the material is legally acquired. It is preferable that either the department or the institution has purchased or  licensed the copyrighted material. If material is available in a database licensed for use by the Libraries, the material can usually be posted on the LMS. If you are using a resource that hasn't been acquired using university or department funds, contact your subject specialist in the Library to request the purchase.
  2. Educational use satisfies one of the four tests to determine fair use. The fair use exception to the copyright holder’s exclusive rights requires a flexible balancing test to determine if a use is fair. A good faith effort must be made to assess overall whether a use is fair by considering the character of the use, the nature of the work to be used, the amount used in proportion to the whole and the impact on the market for the work.  The following have become standard practice to assist a favorable fair use outcome:
  •  Embed links in a password protected environment restricted to a class, such as a Canvas course site.  Please note that URLs added as web links in Canvas generally open in a new window, so that the web  address of the video is visible.  Links can be embedded, however, which avoids this problem.  
  • Accompany links with bibliographic information acknowledging the source, and a caution against using or sharing the media inappropriately.

  • Unless a license has been purchased to stream the entire video, link only to excerpts that are, collectively, no longer than needed to accomplish the educational objective (more than one clip may be used). If you have a question regarding how to obtain a digital license, please contact Kelly Webster at 617-552-0164 (not all publishers make their programs available this way).

  • Provide additional context for the film clips (e.g. associating it with commentary, discussion questions or a related assignment).

For further information or help in getting started, please contact

There is a wealth of information available regarding copyright and academic institutions. Below are a number of useful links:

  1. The Boston College Library has numerous resources on copyright, found here.
  2. If you are not sure if your material can be posted on the website, the checklist compiled by the Columbia University Libraries Copyright Advisory Office can help organize your thoughts about the particular context of your use. The checklist is not a formulaic calculator of fair use. “It is first and foremost a tool intended to guide users through relevant variables and remind users that in a full and robust evaluation of fair use there might be additional points to consider before making a decision.”
  3. If you have further questions regarding the use of copyrighted material for an academic website, please



Shorter items placed on reserve are generally scanned and placed on e-reserve (or linked there directly, if available electronically). E-reserves are accessed through "Course Reserves" in Quest, which can be linked to the LMS course for convenience. Further questions about copyright, length of readings and best time-frames for processing material through e-reserves should be directed to the reserves desk.