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Copyright Guide

A primer on copyright law and fair use

Copyright Law Applies to Online Courses!

Moodle is used as the course management system as Southeastern Louisiana University. The Copyright Clearance Center provides this white paper,  Using Course Management Systems: Guidelines and Best Practices for Copyright Compliance.

Key points to remember from this white paper:

When using copyrighted materials in Moodle:

  • Online doesn’t mean “free”
  • Limit course materials to small excerpts
  • Course management system postings require the same permissions as coursepacks
  • Course management systems are not a substitute for the purchase of coursepacks and textbooks
  • Article links
  • Get permission before posting Passwords are a good start
  • Know what you’ve paid for
  • Work from authorized originals
  • Remove expired course materials promptly
  • Include copyright notices

One easy way to free yourself from the time required to secure copyright clearance for electronic reserves is to link to an article that Sims Library has already licensed through one of our databases. If you need help finding a pertinent article to use with your classes or to determine if your “favorite” article is already online in one of our licensed databases, please contact the Sims Library Reference Desk or Ask a Librarian.

The University Copyright Policy is available online at:
University Homepage>>Administration>>Provost & VP Academic Affairs>>Resources for Faculty & Staff>>Copyright Policy 

Please remind your students that many online resources are made available to them by Sims Library, and that they are not “World Wide Web” sources, but are paid subscriptions to proprietary information.


Determine if the Article is in the Public Domain

Instructors can link to articles in the public domain, without seeking permission. There are several ways that articles can be in the public domain.

Copyright may have expired

Works not protected by copyright are considered to be in the public domain and may be reproduced without permission. As of January 1, 2003, any work published or copyrighted prior to January 1, 1923 has expired by operation of the law and has fallen permanently into the public domain in the United States.

Digital Copyright Slider: use this tool to help determine copyright duration.

Public Documents

Works by the U.S. Government are not eligible for U.S. copyright protection and are generally in the public domain.

Public documents can generally be reprinted without legal restriction. However, Government publications may contain copyrighted material which was used with permission of the copyright owner. Publication in a Government document does not authorize any use or appropriation of such copyright material without consent of the owner.

Federally-funded research

The US National Institutes of Health (NIH) Public Access Policy requires the published results of all NIH-funded research to be deposited in PubMed Central’s repository, the peer-reviewed manuscript immediately, and the final journal article within twelve months of publication. Similarly, a recent directive issued by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy mandates that federal agencies with more than $100 million in research expenditures must make the results of their research publicly available within one year of publication.

Caution: Research published in many journals is not fedeally-funded, and is often published in journals that are not in the public domain. Researchers and authors should check their author agreements, permissions and rights before re-posting online or distributing.

Articles published in Open Access journals

Many authors have published articles in open access journals. The most comprehensive list of open access journals is the Directory of Open Acces Journals (DOAJ)