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Copyright and Fair Use: The Basics: Posting Course Materials Online

Best Practice: Making Links to Content

Uploading or emailing a file such as a PDF copy of a journal article may be a violation of copyright. This is true even if access is restricted to authorized users, for example via learning management systems (LMS) such as Blackboard. 

License agreements that govern the use of  Levy Library's online resources do not grant users unrestricted rights to download, copy and distribute content. 

Providing a link to the content can avoid potential copyright and licensing violations.

Add Levy Library's Proxy Address for Off-Campus Access

If material is licensed by the Levy Library, our proxy prefix should be added to the link so that users who are off-campus can access it.


In the following circumstances, posting PDF copies or other files does not violate copyright:

  • The instructor is the copyright holder.
  • The copyright holder grants permission. Note that Open Access and/or Creative Commons releases often effectively grant advanced permission for copying and distribution.
  • The work is in the public domain, e.g., works originally created by the U.S. Federal Government or works whose copyright has expired.
  • The work meets fair use tests: copying for classroom use or discussion provided that the copy meets tests of brevity (e.g., a complete article of less than 2,500 words) and spontaneity (so that it would be unreasonable to expect a timely reply to a request for permission).