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Add Course Readings to bCourses: Copyright Issues

This guide is for instructors who would like to add library resources to their bCourses sites.

Linking to vs. Uploading Copyrighted Content

The Library recommends linking to public domain, library-licensed, or open access content that is available online rather than uploading copyrighted materials to your course site when possible.

You do not need to ask permission to share links to library-licensed or lawfully-posted Internet content. That’s because linking does not constitute an action protected under copyright law, so you’re not invoking any of the exclusive rights of copyright holders when you merely direct students to a lawfully distributed or displayed copy of a work. 

If you wish to upload copyrighted content rather than linking to it, please consult the Copyright in Instruction web page, which explains how to make uploading decisions.

The workflow asks you to answer a set of questions, including: 

  1. Has a license or permission already been provided?
  2. Is the material in the public domain?
  3. Would uploading the content be fair use?
  4. Is sharing the work covered by another statutory exception to copyright?

If you answer “yes” to any of these questions, you can share the work itself, rather than a link to it, and without getting permission from the copyright owner.  

If you answer “no” to all questions above, then you should share only a link to the content, rather than the work itself, or ask for the copyright owner's permission to share.

Uploading Tips

If you decide that uploading the content is permissible, you should:

  • Provide access to the materials only for the duration of the course, not access in perpetuity
  • Limit access to students enrolled in the course and other appropriate individuals (e.g. teaching assistants)
  • Include copyright information associated with the material

These are best practices, not legal advice

  • The information presented by the Library is intended for information purposes only, and should not be construed as legal advice.
  • While the Library cannot provide legal advice, we are available to consult with instructors as you consider course content issues in greater detail. To schedule a consultation, please e-mail the Office of Scholarly Communication Services at schol-comm@berkeley.edu.

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License