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Copyright & Fair Use

Can I Upload Copyrighted Material to Blackboard?

Current copyright law protects nearly all readings and other course materials that instructors might place on Blackboard. Faculty may upload materials ONLY if any of the following apply:

  1. The material is in the public domain.
  2. The instructor owns the copyright to the material.
  3. The copyright owner of the material grants permission in writing.
  4. The use of the material is a "fair use" under the law.
  5. The material falls within another statutory exception.

Fair Use Guidelines

The distinction between "fair use" and infringement may be unclear and not easily defined. There is no specific number of words, lines, or notes that may be safely taken without permission. Acknowledging the source of the copyrighted material does not substitute for obtaining permission.

Scott Memorial Library has not adopted official guidelines for determining fair use. Librarians can help you understand the concept of fair use and discuss the facts of your proposed use. However, we cannot make a fair use determination for you. Learn more with the video: Changes to Copyright & Fair Use: What Faculty Need to Know

If you need additional assistance coming to a decision, contact the Office of University Counsel.   

Link to Scott Library's EResources

If you wish to upload a digitized version of a copyrighted work in Blackboard (such as a PDF), first check if the material can be accessed through Scott Memorial LibraryThousands of journals and ebooks are available through Scott Memorial Library’s licenses.  

Due to the subjectivity of fair use determinations, it is preferable to link to licensed material rather than uploading a new copy.  Please contact if you need assistance creating direct links to the library’s licensed journals and ebooks.


The information presented in this guide is intended for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice.  Matters of law are subject to interpretation, and University Counsel is the source of authoritative information for Thomas Jefferson University. If you have specific legal questions pertaining to Thomas Jefferson University, please contact the Office of University Counsel.