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Copyright Tips

A self-service guide to analyzing copyright questions

Best Practices by Media

an illustration of a laptop on a desk

In providing students with supplemental course materials, simply posting the copyrighted materials to your Brightspace course site may be infringing on copyright law. Librarians are happy to assist with creating an electronic reserve. We follow American Library Association's best practices regarding Fair Use and Electronic Reserves. Some considerations:

  • Please consider using licensed UMS databases for additional course materials as they already contain copyright clearances.
  • Articles, book chapters and class notes may be put on e-reserve; entire books cannot.
  • Librarians may be able to remediate e-reserve items for users needing "accessibility compliant" materials, that is, materials for use with assistive technologies. Our ability to perform this work depends on the amount of materials and other factors.  
  • For materials found on the Internet, creating a link to the resource in your Brightspace course site is preferable over making a digital copy for posting.
  • Materials posted in the e-reserve folder will be removed at the end of each semester.
  • Repeated use of materials may violate Fair Use guidelines and therefore must be considered each semester they are used.


Please contact Cynthia Kitchin at 207.262.7905 or email for detailed information and requests.

an illustration of a tv   Want to stream a major motion picture or a documentary?

  • Use the Copyright Advisory Network's Exemptions for Instructors tool to for help making decisions about your use of online video
  • ​Under the TEACH Act you may stream portions of the film for a class session only (not the entire semester).  For streaming the entire film for the entire semester, permission may be necessary. 
  • This act DOES NOT apply when a film's distributor limits use with their license. License restrictions always trump the TEACH Act.
  • While the TEACH Act may allow an instructor to stream a film in an online classroom, the act does not make it legal to break anti-copy technology to rip the content of the film from its DVD so it can be streamed.
  • While playing a DVD in a face-to-face class is allowed it does not imply it can be copied and shown online.
  • A major consideration is whether your use is for entertainment (not likely if you are teaching a course) or transformative (you are teaching a film class and the use is for criticism and discussion). Another factor is what the film's original intent was. Streaming an educational documentary for educational purposes may be infringement while streaming an entertainment video for critique and commentary may fall under fair use.

Librarians are happy to give copyright guidance on whether your use complies with copyright law. For assistance contact Cory Budden at or Donna Maher at 

a black and white photograph of a young girl riding a bike with a koala
"Cary Bay Zoo," 1954, from the collections of the State Library of New South Wales


Using copyrighted images in your Brightspace course site or in a classroom presentation will likely fall under Fair Use

Posting copyrighted images on a website or using them in published work without permission is copyright infringement.

Your options:

  • Use public domain images
  • Use Creative Commons Licensed images
  • Use your own images
  • Seek permission from the copyright holder.

Thanks to the Butler University Libraries for creating and sharing this comprehensive guide on Using Images

Attribution for Images information - Butler University Libraries. Used under CC-BY Creative Commons Attribution License

music notes

Copyright for Music Librarians 

The University of Maine System licenses with ASCAP, BMI, and SESAC each year to allow for performance of music.  Open recitals, like Jazz Week, are covered by these licenses with the exception of theatrical performances where music is involved (e.g. musicals).  Please contact Rob Sobczak if you have questions.

Getting Permission

ASCAP - The American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers 

BMI - Broadcast Music, Inc.

SESAC - not an acronym!

Accessibility Statement
The University provides reasonable accommodations to individuals with disabilities upon request. Any person with a disability who needs accommodations for a workshop should contact UMA Libraries at to submit a request. Due to the lead-time needed to arrange certain accommodations, individuals should submit their request no later 1 week before the event.