Copyright for Course Readings in Moodle

What copyright laws apply to readings in a course management system, such as Moodle?

Copyright laws apply to digital content the same as they do for paper. If you are providing a copy of an article or book chapter for use by multiple students by posting it on Moodle, you may need to obtain permission. Copyrighted works may be used without obtaining permission if they comply with the fair use guidelines.

How can I determine whether my course readings comply with fair use guidelines?

The fair use guidelines are documented in section 107 of the Copyright Act of 1976. They are also published by the Copyright Office in Circular 21: Reproduction of Copyrighted Works by Educators and Librarians. You may want to refer to this checklist from Columbia University for assistance in determining whether your intended use complies.

What materials may I post in Moodle without obtaining permission?

These may be included without obtaining copyright permission:

  • A link to licensed content of databases provided through Snowden Library
  • Materials that comply with the fair use guidelines in section 107 of the Copyright Law of 1976
  • Materials owned or obtained lawfully by a faculty member, Snowden Library or another unit of the educational institution
  • Materials that are in the public domain

All materials posted on Moodle should include a citation to the original source of publication and a form of copyright notice, if possible.

For information about accessing copyright-free materials, see the Academic Copyright Overview page.

Also see Using Content in Course Management Systems: Guidelines and Best Practices for Copyright Compliance for more information.

How can I be sure that Snowden Library does not have what I need before seeking copyright permission?

Check Snowden Library's Online Catalog and Periodicals A-to-Z List. If in doubt, contact a Snowden Library reference librarian.

How much of a work can I photocopy or scan?

Although individual situations vary, in most cases 10% or less of the work is the standard guideline. For more specific information, see: Using Content: Photocopies on the Copyright Clearance Center Web site.

Will Snowden Library assist you with scanning, photocopying or preparing readings to mounted on Moodle?

Although placing materials on Moodle is the responsibility of the faculty member, the library staff is willing to assist. Please contact Alysha Russo, Circulation Supervisor, ext.4053. Your department secretary may also assist. Copies become your property and the library has no reason to think that the copy will be used for anything but private study, scholarship, or research.

Can I link to other Web pages? How about deep linking?

Linking to other Web pages from Moodle or your own Web site generally does not raise any copyright questions. Deep linking can be a problem if you bypass information or advertisements that the Web site owner wants visitors to see before accessing additional information. Ask for permission from the creator of the Web site before deep linking.

Who is responsible for securing copyright permission for materials I am using for my course?

Lycoming College faculty members are ultimately responsible for securing permission to mount their course materials on Moodle. Snowden Library can assist you with requesting copyright permission. You should be aware that if the copyright owner does not grant permission for free use, clearance fees can be high.

Can I get permission from a copyright holder by e-mail or phone?

Yes, just make sure that you keep a file of e-mail communications or the final confirmation letter you receive after acquiring permission on the phone.

What are the specific guidelines for providing access to course readings on Moodle?

An enrollment key needs to be set up by faculty teaching a course. This enrollment key will act as a password to allow access to students already enrolled in a course. A link to full-text should be provided if available through the library or institution.

Faculty members need to advise students that course materials are made available for the exclusive use of students enrolled in that particular course, and they may not distribute copies to students who are not enrolled in that class.

An expiration date must be set up for each course so students cannot access it after the semester is over. You can also create a backup copy of your course and make it unavailable to students at the end of each semester.

What advantage does Moodle have over selling a course pack in the College Book Store?

First of all, since articles can be added as the semester continues, Moodle offers flexibility. Second, faculty members can be more certain that they are following good copyright practices. Moodle insures that only class members have access to articles without any appearance of profit. Best of all, students can have direct access to an article in a database to which Snowden Library subscribes.

Can I mount course readings on my personal Web site?

Lycoming College encourages you to use Moodle to make electronic copies of course readings or available to students. If you are interested in mounting copyright-protected material on your own Web space, you will need to secure adequate copyright permission for the length of time you want to have such materials mounted on your page.

Snowden librarians can assist you in seeking copyright permission. You should be aware that if the copyright owner does not grant permission for free use, clearance fees can be high.