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Copyright: Posting Materials in Moodle

Information about copyright and how it affects your teaching, research, and learning at Davidson


This site is intended for informational purposes only.  Library staff members cannot give legal advice.  For legal advice, you should contact an intellectual property attorney.


All items placed in Moodle must comply with United States copyright law and the Davidson College copyright policy.

When providing digital materials to students, educators must either secure permission for use or ensure that they are meeting the fair use standards of U.S. copyright law.

The guidelines and instructions in this guide help to ensure that Davidson College meets the standards of United States copyright law.


  1. All items posted to Moodle must be limited to students enrolled in the course.  If unenrolled students can view these materials, please contact an instructional technologist for help.  
  2. All materials must have been legally obtained.   
  3. Materials must be used for educational, non-commercial purposes.  Students may not be charged for their use of these materials.  
  4. When posting items to Moodle, you must have permission of the copyright holder or be confident that your use qualifies as fair use.  The library's Annual Copyright License covers many, but not all, text-based materials. 
  5. Whenever possible, provide a link to the item's full-text in one of the library's databases.  The right to link to an item in a subscription databases is often included in the license.  For more information about linking, see Linking to Full Text Resources.   
  6. Each item must include a complete citation with full bibliographic information.  
  7. Each item must have a copyright notice.  This notice must include the copyright register's warning and an additional warning about further electronic distribution.  
  8. Only reasonable portions of a work may be posted to Moodle.  Copyright law does not provide exact guidelines, but the Agreement on Guidelines for Classroom Copyright in Not-for-Profit Educational Institutions provides minimum standards:
    One chapter from a book (less than 2,500 words) or an excerpt from a book (10% of the work; not more than 1,000 words)
    One article from a single journal or newspaper issue (less than 2,500 words)
    One short story (less than 2,500 words), essay (less than 2,500 words), or poem (250 words or less) from a collection  
  9. Items not covered by the Library's Annual Copyright License may not be posted in subsequent semesters for the same class.  If those items have been used for course reserves in the past, permission must be sought to use them again. 

Step-by-step instructions

  1. Ensure that access to materials is restricted to enrolled students only.  If it is not, contact an instructional technologist.
  2. Make sure the item is lawfully obtained:  do you or the library own the item or did you get it on interlibrary loan?  
  3. Check to see if the work is covered by the Library's Annual Copyright License. If it is, proceed to Step 4.  If it is not, proceed to Step 5 .  
  4. If the item is covered by the license, you may post it to Moodle.  Provide a persistent link to the full-text (if possible), since linking is preferable.  (Need help with linking?  See Linking to Full Text Resources.)  If linking is not possible, you may scan a copy and post the PDF.  In both cases, be sure to include a complete citation.   
  5. If the item is not covered by the license, check to see if the full-text is available in one of our databases, since the right to link to items in most subscription databases has been negotiated for you by the library.  (Need help with linking? See Linking to Full Text Resources.)  If it is, you may create a persistent link to the item and post it to Moodle.  Include a full citation with the link.  
  6. If the full-text is not in one of our databases, check to see if the item is in the public domain.  (The Public Domain guide is a good place to start.)  If it is, you may scan a copy and post the PDF, with full citation information, to Moodle.   
  7. If item is not in the public domain, you'll need to do a fair use analysis.  
  8. If you decide that your use of the item meets fair use standards, you may scan a copy and post the PDF, with the full citation, to Moodle.  
  9. If you decide that your use of the item does not meet fair use standards, contact your department's administrative assistant so that s/he can requested permission to use the material.

More information

Libraries and academic institutions may provide traditional and electronic course reserves (including those in Moodle) to their students due to a number of exemptions in U.S. copyright law, including sections 107 (Fair Use), 108 (Reproductions by Libraries and Archives), 109 (Effect of Transfer of Particular Copy or Phonorecord), and 110 (Exemption of Certain Performances and Displays) of the Copyright Act of 1976.  Course reserves are also potentially impacted by, among others, the Agreement on Guidelines for Classroom Copying in Not-for-Profit Educational Institutions, the Digital Millenium Copyright Act, and the Technology, Education and Copyright Harmonization (TEACH) Act.

For more information, please ask a librarian.  We're happy to answer any questions you may have.

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