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Copyright - UMA & OCLS: Home


The Libraries of the University of Maine System comply with all Copyright Laws of the United States, and encourage appropriate use of our materials under the doctrine of Fair Use.

This guide offers general information and guidance, as well as preliminary instructions and contact information.

While the information on this site cannot be construed as legal advice, we hope that it does offer value in assessing and navigating the sometimes confusing legal implications of using copyright material in the 21st century.  

As always, let us know if you need help--email, call, stop in or use the chat widget on the right hand side!



Use of the Guide

Use the tabs above or the text below to navigate through this Guide!


Key Concepts:


Types of Content

Have questions that aren't answered here? Contact Brenda Sevigny-Killen at 207-621-3351 or for assistance!

Copyright Policy in Digital Age

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I put my textbook on reserve?

If it is a purchased copy of a textbook, we can put it on reserve.  If it is a free-to-you copy, please check the publisher's instructions on the book--is there any text that prohibits sharing? does it say "for preview purposes only"? We will continue to exercise our Fair Use rights, however, they do have limitations.  We are not able to place everything on reserve.

Is your course online?  We recommend utilizing our e-reserve system, which is accessed through your Brightspace course site.

Should I use YouTube videos in my Brightspace class?

Educators use a variety of media in the classroom, as you know; determining whether the use is considered covered by the Fair Use clause is a matter of going through a 'Fair Use Checklist'.

Typically, we advise against using work that has been illegally copied and loaded onto YouTube.  Within reason, we can certainly make clips and create streams for your use in films.  It sounds like the same thing--they're both streams--the difference is one is paid for and then streamed on a secure server where the link is disabled after the semester is over, while the other is of unknown origin and may be taken down by the true copyright holder.
If you would like, please send links to the items you would like to use and we will check on an individual basis; this way you'll have a second opinion about Fair Use. Librarians have a Code of Best Practices, if you are interested in reading more:


Students are using images from internet sources (that may be copyrighted) in their group presentations.  I’ve also used images I found on “Google Image”.  Am I infringing on the copyright?  Most likely not.  As long as the images are used in class, it’s fine.  Just keep it a reasonably short period of time (a semester is the rule), and get permission if you plan to re-use the image.  

I found an article in one of our databases this morning—can I make copies for my class to read?  Yes.  Under the Fair Use provisions, educators may make one copy of spontaneous supplementary reading for every student in their class.  

I found an article in one our databases this morning—I want students in my online class to read it this week.  Can I copy and paste it into Black Board?

See the "Reserves" tab for more information.

I want to print off information/instructions from the web to hand to my students rather than writing out my own set of instructions/information--is that ok?

Depending on the length of the document (and the amount you want to copy) and who wrote the instructions, it might be fine to just print it off and hand it out to your students.  Some instructions might fall into the textbook or workbook category, copies of which should be avoided, as these fall into the ‘consumables’ category.  To be completely secure, you can ask the author for permission (anything on library sites is usually fine), or, of course,  rewrite the instructions in your own words.  If you are concerned or want further information, you might want to do a fair-use analysis using the checklist.

What is the limit to providing students with video clips and audio clips without infringing on the copyrights? There is no limit to in-class viewing, if it is for educational use (necessary part of regular lectures/teaching). Showing videos to take up time does not count as educational use--but if the film/movie/song corresponds with regular educational activities, then feel free to use as much as you need.  

What are the rules for using embedded video/audio from a third party?  For instance, if we want to show a government-sponsored video clip and embed that video into Brightspace?   1. Keep the video short; 2. Erase it at the end of the semester; 3. Use only what you would normally show in a traditional classroom setting..  Having said that, DMCA requires specific methods to be followed.  See Film/Video tab for more information.

What are the rules for downloading audio and video content from a public site (like Reuters/NYtimes/AP/etc.) and providing that video for students in a blended classroom environment?  Embedding copyrighted content (streaming video from a public site like You Tube, NY Times, or other freely available sites) is not permissible.  It is permissible, however, to post a link to the streaming content so that viewers can access it themselves—try to make sure the link is to a legitimate source.

What are the rules for providing students with copy-written content that they have access to through the UMA library databases in a blended or purely online classroom? Any content used in the online classroom and shared with students should be provided via the online reserves.  If that is not possible (a chapter from a book, for example) immediately, please see the Reserves tab for more information.

What are the rules for posting instructor resources online?  What about PPT files that accompany a textbook?.  Check the contract from the vendor.  In many cases, the files may be uploaded onto Brightspace if it is to be used in conjunction with the textbook, but to be on the safe side, check the contract on the DVD itself.

Are there any copyright exceptions for online courses?

Yes. The TEACH (Technology, Education, and Copyright Harmonization) Act of 2002.

How does copyright apply when content is used in a course team-taught by instructors at different campuses or institutions for students at each of those locations?

Does placing a pre-publication draft of a work on reserve for a course violate copyright?  The author has the right to control the first public appearance of his or her expression .  See the second paragraph under Nature of the Copyrighted Work