Answered By: Jenny Oleen
Last Updated: Apr 03, 2020     Views: 266

As Western prepares for university closure and the possibility of teaching remotely due to COVID-19, Western Libraries has information and services that may be of assistance to our teaching colleagues.


What can I make available in Canvas?

If the item you wish to use is available online, you can link out to it from Canvas. You may wish to utilize diligent link-checking, particularly when your students will be needing to use it, to ensure that the item doesn’t disappear.

If the item is something that is part of the Western Libraries collection, it is possible to use the item in Canvas with little restrictions. It is better to link directly to the item, using the EZ Proxy prefix (EBSCO databases do not require it, use the direct link provided) before the URL of the item you wish to link to:

For example, linking to the article “Globalizations are plural” in International Sociology found at would look like this:

If you are needing to scan materials you have on hand to use, start with the first chapter as a way to prepare for the beginning of the quarter. This will fall within Fair Use (see below). Beyond that first chapter, the fair use exemption may be possible to utilize--instructors will need to use the Fair Use Checklist to determine that. Feel free to reach out to the Copyright Librarian for assistance with using the Checklist. Check out the Western Libraries Copyright page for more information:


What is Fair Use and what does it allow?

The Fair Use exemption considers certain uses of copyright works to be fair uses – that is, to not be copyright infringement. Fair use applies to “purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research” (17 U.S.C. § 107).

Fair use determinations must be made for each intended use and are dependent on a balance of the Four Factors of Fair Use. These are:

  1. Purpose or character of the use
  2. The nature of the copyrighted Work
  3. The amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole
  4. The effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work

Tools like the Fair Use Checklist, a roadmap that can help you understand the individual factors and how different uses favor or oppose fair use, the Fair Use Evaluator, which provides the opportunity to describe the use and provide context, and the Codes of Best Practices in Fair Use, which put forth standards of fair use within a discipline, are available to help with fair use determinations.


What about the TEACH Act?

The TEACH Act allows the use of copyrighted materials for digital distance education, provided certain requirements are met. So long as:

  • downstream controls are in place to avoid transmitting the work beyond the course setting 
  • commercial works intended for digital distance education are not used
  • legally obtained copies are used
  • only amount pedagogically necessary is used
  • students are notified that works may be subject to copyright protection

Given these requirements, it is not copyright infringement for teachers and students at nonprofit education institutions (such as Western) to transmit performances (music, movies, etc.) and displays (image, text, etc.) of copyrighted works as a part of a course if certain conditions are met. Further information can be found in the TEACH Act Toolkit. Feel free to reach out to the Copyright Librarian for assistance with using the TEACH Act.


Can Open Education Resources help?

Open Educational Resources (OER) are teaching materials that are openly licensed with a Creative Commons license or materials that already exist in the public domain. Open educational resources are free to students and faculty and do not infringe on copyright laws. That means if you find an OER textbook you want to use, you can attach the whole thing to your CANVAS site without worrying about copyright!

Most OER are digital resources that can be found in a variety of websites online. Check out WWU’s Teaching Handbook “finding” page for places to search for OER. OER are typically organized by subject and by kind of material (digital textbook, journal article, data set, etc.). If you want to get started looking for OER textbooks, we recommend looking at OpenStax or the University of Minnesota’s Open Textbook Library.

Feel free to reach out to the Scholarly Communications Librarian or the Center for Instructional Innovation and Assessment for assistance.


How can Course Reserves help?

Western Libraries provides course reserves services to all current faculty, students, and staff. Currently, reserves are electronic and may include library-owned texts, articles, videos, audio recordings, and other relevant resources that support classroom instruction. An example of how course reserves will appear in your Canvas course is available. Use the Course Reserves request form to submit a course reserves list. While a list can be submitted at any time, the sooner the better. Please understand that with the change to online learning, course reserves are experiencing heavy use. There may be a delay in reserves becoming available. Physical reserves are unavailable while Western Libraries is closed to the public.

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