Copyright and Blackboard

The TEACH Act was passed in 2002 to clarify “fair use” in the era of distance education and digitizing of information, as well as use of reproductions of visual and sound media. The American Library Association has excellent information on copyright, including a document on the Best Practices Using Blackboard.

From the Best Practices Using Blackboard

  1. Limit access to copyrighted works to students currently enrolled in the class
  2. Limit access only for the time needed to complete the class session or course
  3. Inform instructors, students, and staff of copyright laws and policies
  4. Prevent further copying or redistribution of copyrighted works
  5. Not interfere with copy protection mechanisms

Journal Articles and Blackboard

Always check The Library’s Complete List of Journals to see if the article you want to assign to your students is included in one of the¬†library’s full-text databases of approximately 20,000 journals. If it is, rather than download the article, the best system is to put only the link to the article on your Blackboard course pages. Some of the library’s databases include these durable links as part of each citation, or you may email the link to yourself to paste into your Blackboard pages. As the library has already¬†purchased the content for our students and faculty, there are no copyright issues if you give students just the link.

When downloading or linking to a database to which the library subscribes, licenses generally follow that of Ebsco, which states:

“Licensee and Authorized Users may download or print limited copies of citations, abstracts, full text or portions thereof provided the information is used solely for personal, non-commercial use. Licensee and Authorized Users may not publish the information.” If in doubt, each database has on its homepage a link to “Copyright” or “Terms and Conditions.”

Note that some publishers have special conditions even when their journal is available through Ebsco or another aggregator. A prime example is Harvard Publishing. When you download an article from Harvard Business Review, you see the following statement:

“Harvard Business Review and Harvard Business School Publishing content on EBSCOhost is licensed for the individual use of authorized EBSCOhost patrons at this institution and is not intended for use as assigned course material. Harvard Business School Publishing is pleased to grant permission to make this work available through ‘electronic reserves’ or other means of digital
access or transmission to students enrolled in a course. For rates and authorization regarding such course usage, contact Harvard Business School Publishing

As stressed above, if the library subscribes to the journal, your best recourse is to put only the link to the article (URL) on your Blackboard course pages. The library has already purchased the content for our students and faculty.

For articles or books not available through one of our electronic databases, one of the best sets of copyright guidelines for faculty is the Crash Course in Copyright provided at the University of Texas.

Learn More