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Hopefully, by mid-semester, your students have already gotten access to all assigned reading materials. As always, the Central Libraries' reserves personnel can help with getting things online -- linking to Libraries' subscription resources, finding ebooks where available, and more.

If you want to share additional materials directly with students through Canvas as you revise instructional plans,or if you want students to share more resources with each other in an online discussion board, keep in mind some simple guidelines:

It's Always Easiest to Link!

Linking to publicly available online content like news websites, existing online videos, etc. is rarely a copyright issue. However, it is better not to link to existing content that looks like it's obviously infringing. For example, Joe Schmoe's YouTube video of the entire Black Panther movie is probably not a good video to link to; but Sara Someone's 2-minute video of herself and her best friend talking over a few of the pivotal scenes may be fair use and is not a video about which you should be concerned providing a link.

Linking to subscription content through the Libraries is also a great option -- most of the Libraries' subscription content will have DOIs, permalinks, PURLs, or other persistent link options, all of which should work even for off-campus users. If creating links yourself, be sure that you prefix that link with For example, a link to JSTOR should be, not   For assistance linking to any particular libraries subscription content, contact your department Liaison Librarian or send a message to

Sharing Copies -- Ebooks, Textbooks, and More

Making copies of new materials for students (by downloading and uploading files, or by scanning from physical documents) can present some copyright issues, but they are no different from those involved in deciding whether to share something online with your students when you are meeting in-person. As a rule, it's better not to make copies of entire works (most often referring to books, not articles) -- but most instructors don't do that! Copying portions of works to share with students will often be fair use.

Under the current extraordinary conditions, many students may not have access to all of their textbooks or to materials on print reserves in the Central Libraries. We have the following recommendations:

  • Check OneSearch to see if the Libraries already have access to the e-book; if the libraries' do have access to the e-book, contact so we can make sure there are no limitations on the number of simultaneous users;
  • See if the book is located in the Open Library from the Internet Archive;
  • See if the book is available at the HathiTrust under their Emergency Temporary Access Service. Instructions for using this service are available.
  • See if the publisher can provide an electronic an e-book;
  • Work with the Baylor Bookstore for an e-book;
  • Contact your department Liaison Librarian or to see if it's an e-book the library can acquire;
  • If an e-book is not available or not cost effective, perform a fair use analysis to determine if the fair use exemption is applicable. Using guidelines provided by Kyle Courtney at Harvard University, consider the following uses, particularly regarding the 3rd factor (amount and substantiality):
    • Only digitize the content that will be needed for the time period (i.e., right now next 2-3 weeks); if in the next 2-3 weeks, the students need to read 2-3 chapters, digitize those 2-3 chapters; if in the next 2-3 weeks, the entire book needs to be read (not a common scenario), digitize the entire work.
    • Ensure that the digitized copy is available ONLY to the students in the course, preferably only during the needed time period.
    • Personnel in reserves services can provide assistance with digitization needs if the print materials are delivered to us (in the Riley Digitization Center on the Garden Level of Moody Library) and make those digital copies available in the appropriate courses in Canvas
    • NOTE: Setting up expectations for once we've returned to face-to-face instruction, a fair use analysis is less likely to be supportive of this type of copying without obtaining and paying for copyright permission. 

Library personnel can help you understand the relevant issues; contact for assistance..

If you don't feel comfortable relying on fair use, a subject specialist librarian may be able to suggest alternative content that is already online through library subscriptions or openly accessible online content. The Libraries may also be able to help you seek formal copyright permissions to provide copies to students -- but there may be some issues with getting permissions on short timelines.

Multimedia Viewing/listening

Showing an entire movie or film or musical work online may be a bit more of an issue than playing it in class -- but there may be options for your students to access it independently online. The Baylor Libraries already have quite a bit of licensed streaming video content, which you are welcome to use in your online course. The Libraries also already have subscriptions to a significant set of streaming audio options (music and non-music) for Baylor users.

Additionally, you can work with your department library liaison to see if we can acquire streaming access for additional media, but standard commercial streaming options like Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, and Disney+ may sometimes be the easiest option -- for exclusive content, the commercial services may be the only option. NOTE: The Internet Movie Database is an excellent source for finding out if a film is available on a commercial streaming service.


Creative Commons License The content on this specific page was adapted from the University of Minnesota. Changes made reflect the services available at Baylor University. Unless otherwise noted, all content on this page is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.

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