How to Use Text

Whenever you're tempted to use copyrighted articles or excerpts, ask yourself:

How important is this text for fulfilling the mission of your lesson?

  • If you believe the article, book chapter, or report would be a vital part of the lesson, make your best effort to contact the copyright holder for permission.
  • If you think you have a strong case for using text under the Fair Use exceptions or the Teach Act, reflect on the risk-reward ratio in applying these remedies.

Remember, you want to use copyrighted material in such a way as to not end up in a lawsuit. Sure, you may prevail in court, but at what cost? You may win your case, but be seriously financially damaged, so think carefully before using copyrighted material without permission.

The best policy is: "When in doubt, link out!"

Frequently Asked Questions about Using Print and Digital Text

  • May I link to an article online?
    • Best practices direct one to link to articles owned or licensed by UNT through the e-sources databases licensed by UNT. If articles outside of the e-sources are noted as open access, or they are in the public domain, these are usually safe to apply links. Otherwise, providing a link to a site is usually considered safe.
  • May I scan an article from a printed magazine and post it in my online course?
    • If you don't have permission from the copyright owner, it's safest to link to the article's online site, not place a scanned article within your course. You should apply the Fair Use factors to determine this.
  • How much content can I legally copy out of a book chapter, magazine, or journal for use in my online lessons?
    • You should apply the Fair Use test to determine this. In general, one chapter of a book is safe.
  • How long can I leave copyrighted content online without permission using Fair Use or Teach Act exceptions?
    • UNT reserves and copyright law require that all reserve content be renewed each semester.
  • If I wrote the book, may I put it in my online course?
    • It depends. If you reserved your right to display, reproduce, distribute, and make derivative of your work, then yes. If you did not, you may need to seek permission from the publisher. The SPARC Addendum can help you reserve your literary rights.
  • My textbook isn't yet available to students. May I copy and deliver the first two chapters online until the book arrives?
    • Contact the UNT library about placing book chapters on e-reserve.
  • Can I post chapters or sections of an e-book in my online course?
    • Contact your UNT library to determine what the e-book licensing agreement permits.
  • How can my Library Liaison help me with copyright issues?
    • Your liaison can help you with placing content on reserve, e-reserve, and locating answers to copyright issues.
  • If I use Panopto to record the classroom, and if I don’t get Media Releases from the students, would that cause a copyright issue?
    • It depends who created the work. If a student solely created the work, this could be an issue.
  • If I subscribe to an online journal, does that give me permission to link those articles in my course?
    • No. Articles linked in a course should be owned or licensed by UNT. Personal subscriptions don't allow you to distribute copies to your students. Check the library's subscriptions to see if your article is available.

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