How does Fair Use apply to Sakai or Canvas?

The following are general standards suggested to give fair use to some practical applications. Instructors and others within the Claremont University Consortium who are using methods of electronic delivery of materials other than Sakai should also consider these standards when evaluating whether their activities are within fair use.

Fair use depends on a balancing of four factors outlined in the copyright statutes. These factors may be addressed by a variety of means. Listed below with each factor are some suggestions that may be helpful in conducting fair-use analyses. Because each situation will be different, instructors must also consider other possibilities and weigh them in the balance for each fair-use determination. One need not necessarily take every possible precaution and satisfy all four of the statutory factors; hence, some adjusting of the implementation of the following procedure may still keep your activities within the boundaries of the permitted use. For scenarios applying the factors of fair use, see Common Scenarios of Fair Use Issues: Posting Materials on Course Management Systems.

To establish the strongest basis for fair use, consider and apply the four factors along the lines of these suggestions:

  1. Purpose of the Use
    • Materials should be placed or posted on the CMS only for the purpose of serving the needs of specified educational programs.
    • Materials should be placed or posted on the CMS only at the specific request of the instructor.
    • Access to materials should be limited by password or other means to deter unauthorized access beyond students enrolled in the specific course for which the materials are needed.
    • Students should not be charged a fee specifically or directly for access to materials placed on the CMS, and no person or unit in the consortium should benefit monetarily from the use of the material.
  2. Nature of the Work
    • Only those portions of the work relevant to the educational objectives of the course should be placed on the CMS.
    • The law of fair use applies more narrowly to highly creative works; accordingly, avoid substantial excerpts from novels, short stories, poetry, modern art images, and other such materials.
    • Instructors should carefully review uses of “consumable” materials such, as test forms and workbook pages that are meant to be used and repurchased.
  3. Amount of the Work
    • Materials placed or posted on CMS will generally be limited to brief works or brief excerpts from longer works. Examples: a single chapter from a book, a single article from a journal, and individual news articles.
    • The amount of work placed should be related directly to the educational objectives of the course.
  4. Effect of the Use on the Market for the Original
    • Try to avoid repeat use of the same materials by the same instructor for the same course.
    • Materials posted on a CMS should include a citation to the original source of publication and a form of a copyright notice. The instructor should also advise students that the materials are made available exclusively for use by students enrolled in the course and must not be distributed beyond that limited group.

Access to materials should be limited by password or other means to deter unauthorized access beyond students enrolled in the specific course for which the specific materials are needed.

  • The CMS should not include any material unless the instructor, the library, or another unit of the educational institution possesses a lawfully obtained copy.
  • Materials on the CMS should not include works that are reasonably available and affordable for students to purchase—whether as a book, course pack, or another format.

Permission from the copyright owner is an important option for posting materials on Sakai/Canvas. Instructors within the Consortium are ultimately responsible for securing permission to place material on Sakai as needed. Consider your alternatives. The easiest is simply to link from Sakai/Canvas to any of The Library’s licensed databases. A link may be made directly from Sakai/Canvas to the database that includes the desired material. The Library can help you locate and make those links. Adding links to other Internet sites also generally does not raise copyright concerns.

Are There Alternative Methods of Information Delivery That I Should Consider?

You may want to consider alternative methods of providing students with materials for various reasons. Some alternatives may avoid copyright problems; other choices may be best suited for your educational objectives. See the section on applying fair use to electronic reserves.

  1. Providing Links to Materials for Students. Linking to materials already lawfully posted on the Internet or available through library databases is often the most efficient method of providing materials to students. Consult with the librarians about the online availability of many journals and other full-text sources.
  2. Traditional Coursepacks. Consider using coursepacks if permission to post materials electronically is denied by the copyright owner but permission is available for creating hard copies of the same materials.
  3. Requiring Students to Purchase Materials. Encourage students to purchase materials if available at a reasonable cost. Simple purchases seldom raise copyright issues.
  4. Electronic Reserves. The reserve unit of The Libraries can assist you with using the electronic-reserve system, but it does raise significant copyright issues. For more information about applying copyright law, see the section on applying fair use to electronic reserves.