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nlatimer
Community Champion

Copyright Guidelines for Materials in Canvas Courses

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Hello Everyone,

I have done some looking around and this has come up before; I have also found some university library websites that address it. However, I still find a lack of clear guidelines about what types/quantities of copyrighted materials can be allowed to exist in a Canvas course. I think we all realize that fair use can be difficult to interpret, but I think things also get compounded by the fact that information is being put online, but behind a "closed course." 

For example, I currently have a K-12 teacher who wants to upload some of her personal audiobooks on CD to her iTunes, move to her Google Drive and then post links to them in Canvas. Now if she were to post the audiobooks to the Internet in general, that would clearly be a problem. But the fact that they will only be accessible to students in her Canvas course muddies the picture. I personally still believe that this is not a proper thing to do; for one reason, she intends to make the entire recordings available.

I am both a Canvas administrator and a librarian and still find this all confusing. I would love to hear your take on this as well as see any resources that you have developed to deal with these situations.

Thank you!

Nancy

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nlatimer
Community Champion

Hi  @nr2522 ,

Yes, I agree, I don't want to be the copyright police. I am just trying to understand how the concept of copyright/fair use is applied when the materials are in a Canvas course that requires a login, vs being generally available online. I know many universities have some information on their library websites about this, and I am familiar with Columbia's checklist. I only saw one site that flat out said that fair use still applies in this scenario. I have teachers who believe that because the materials require a login to the course, fair use is not applicable. 

So that is the question at hand. Do fair use guidelines still hold for a closed Canvas course?

Thanks,

Nancy

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5 Replies
nr2522
Community Champion

Hello, nlatimer.

I would recommend that you not try to set policy or guidelines without involving your school district's lawyers. You don't want to become the cop responsible for policing your teachers' behavior. In my opinion, this task does not come under the job description of a Canvas admin. (It may be appropriate for a librarian to handle, but unless someone above you has tasked you with this responsibility, it's probably best to avoid undertaking it.)

Columbia University Libraries offers a checklist to help decide if using a particular resource falls under fair use or not: https://copyright.columbia.edu/basics/fair-use/fair-use-checklist.html. (Do read the "Caveat" section.)

Best regards,

Nelson

nlatimer
Community Champion

Hi  @nr2522 ,

Yes, I agree, I don't want to be the copyright police. I am just trying to understand how the concept of copyright/fair use is applied when the materials are in a Canvas course that requires a login, vs being generally available online. I know many universities have some information on their library websites about this, and I am familiar with Columbia's checklist. I only saw one site that flat out said that fair use still applies in this scenario. I have teachers who believe that because the materials require a login to the course, fair use is not applicable. 

So that is the question at hand. Do fair use guidelines still hold for a closed Canvas course?

Thanks,

Nancy

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nr2522
Community Champion

Hi, Nancy.

Copyright law always applies. Uploading to Canvas is really no different than the teacher taking a textbook over to the copier and running off 50 copies to hand out to the students. That's 50 textbooks that someone deserves payment for to compensate all the hard work that goes into producing a textbook. Or to use the example you posited, taking a CD burner and making copies of an audiobook to give out to students. There are people whose toil (the author, the narrator, publishing co. staff, etc.) is not being compensated. Personal opinion: it's stealing. Fair use would allow for a brief clip. Copying the whole thing is a huge no-no.

I'm no lawyer (nor even a dilettante in the area of intellectual property), but even lawyers don't have clear answers on this murky area of law.

Best,

Nelson

nlatimer
Community Champion

Thank you,  @nr2522 , that's exactly my feelings on the subject. When I expressed an opinion, I got ignored. Sigh.

jshields3
New Member

I hope you don't mind, but I am going to piggy back on this because I am on the same (Canvas) page as you two.

I have permission to use PowerPoints from the publisher for my course because we use their text book. Now that we are online, I cannot just upload the PPT, but I am transferring the information to a Canvas page made completely accessible. I had added my own material to the PPT and I did not indicate copyright on those slides.

Here is my question. Although the majority of the material is from the PPT and copyrighted, I am also adding my own conjecture to the Canvas page, what I would have added in class and from my own expertise. At first I put a statement at the top that it was copyrighted material from the publisher, but then I thought, I don't want to imply that MY material is copyrighted by them. How do I differentiate that on a Canvas page?