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J. Robert Van Pelt and John and Ruanne Opie Library

Embed Learning Resources in your Canvas Course

About Online Content and Copyright

Copyright law protects authors and creators against unlawful reproduction, adaptation or reproduction of their works. It's safe to assume that any online content you find is protected by Copyright law. But there is content that is available to use without seeking the copyright holder's permission. This content is licensed, provided through library subscriptions, or otherwise "open." In each of these cases the creator or the rights-holder has granted or negotiated access to the copyrighted work. 

Creative Commons Licenses

Creative Commons (CC) licenses are permissions a creator applies to their online content defining what uses are allowed by subsequent users. While the works are still protected by copyright, the Creative Commons licenses eliminate the need to seek permission from the rights holder. Creative Commons licenses are used for images, videos, audio, open educational resources (OERs), and more. The licenses here are listed from least to most restrictive.


Attribution: CC BY
This license lets others distribute, remix, adapt, and build upon a work, even commercially, as long as they credit the creator for the original work. This is the most accommodating of licenses offered. Recommended for maximum dissemination and use of licensed materials.

Attribution-ShareAlike: CC BY-SA
This license lets others remix, adapt, and build upon a work even for commercial purposes, as long as they credit the creator and license their new creations under the identical terms. All new works based on the original will carry the same license, so any derivatives will also allow commercial use.

Attribution-NoDerivs: CC BY-ND
This license lets others reuse a work for any purpose, including commercially; however, it cannot be shared with others in adapted form, and credit must be provided to the creator.

Attribution-NonCommercial: CC BY-NC
This license lets others remix, adapt, and build upon a work non-commercially, and although their new works must also acknowledge the creator and be non-commercial, they don’t have to license their derivative works on the same terms.

Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike: CC BY-NC-SA
This license lets others remix, adapt, and build upon a work non-commercially, as long as they credit the creator and license their new creations under the identical terms.

Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs: CC BY-NC-ND
This license is the most restrictive of the six main licenses, only allowing others to download the works and share them with others as long as they credit the creator, but they can’t change them in any way or use them commercially.


Creative Commons License
"About the Licenses" is licensed under a Creative Commons 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) license.

Library Subscribed Content

The library subscribes to journals, ebooks, videos, standards, proceedings, and other online content. Subscriptions are negotiated agreements that allow the library to provide access to content that would otherwise require direct payment  to a publisher or vendor by the user in order to access.

Because subscriptions are negotiated for higher education uses, nearly all publishers or vendors will allow linking or embedding content into a learning management system such as Canvas. In cases where this is not allowed technology will be in place to prohibit the uploading or linking of content.

Most platforms containing subscribed content will include a library logo such as the one highlighted here:

Open Educational Resources

Open Educational Resources or OERs are instructional materials made openly available on the internet for others to use, adapt, or customize for their own instructional needs. Part of the larger open access movement, OERs offer an alternative to the high priced course materials for students and provide instructors with materials they can tailor to their own needs. OERs can include textbooks, syllabi, content modules, simulations and more.

Other Options: Fair Use, TEACH Act and Seeking Permission

What if you have content that doesn't have a Creative Commons license or isn't through a subscription at the library? Depending on how you plan to use the content, you may still be able to use it under "Fair Use." Written into U.S. Copyright law, Fair Use allows for use without the rights holder's permission providing that the use is "fair." Deciding whether or not your use is fair involves considering and documenting four factors that weigh the purpose of your use, nature and amount of material being used, and potential impact your use has on the market place for the original. Educational use of much content, especially when limited to a specific audience for a limited time in a course management system, generally weighs in favor of Fair Use. More details and a tool for conducting a fair use analysis are available on our Fair Use guide.

Your use may also be within the limits of the TEACH Act which allows for limited performance and display online. More information on the TEACH act is on our Copyright guide.

If the content you wish to use falls outside of fair use, library subscriptions and user licenses you may need to contact the rights holder for permission. This is easily done with many publishers through the Copyright Clearance Center or a librarian can help you locate and contact a rights holder. Complete and submit a consultation request for assistance.