Michigan State University

Copyright FAQ

May I post a PDF article or book chapter from the MSU Libraries in my D2L course?

NOT WITHOUT PERMISSION, our license agreements prohibit posting articles/text in an electronic location different from the vendor's own platform. This is considered republishing and requires seeking permissions and perhaps paying fees. The preferred option that doesn't require seeking permission is to create a stable link (including proxy server information) from within your D2L course or other web site to the desired article. 

Exceptions:  If you know that an article has been published under a Creative Commons Attribution (CC-BY) license, which some open access articles are.   

May I post a link to an article or book chapter from the MSU Libraries in my D2L course?

YES, this is the preferred option for directing students to electronic content and does not require seeking permission.  Be sure that you create a stable link to the article or chapter and that it includes the EZ Proxy so that students can access from off campus. 

May I scan book chapters or articles and place in D2L?

NOT WITHOUT PERMISSION.  Digitizing can be viewed as an attempt to circumvent purchasing the work. If the amount of the work scanned is small (say, one chapter from a book), a case can be made that this falls under "fair use".  If it is questionable, the MSU Libraries Permissions Specialist, Tyler Smeltekop can research the rights holder and request permissions for you to scan and post the work in D2L. 

Exception:  If the book or article was published before 1923, it is in the public domain, and you may scan and use without getting permissions. 

May I make a DVD available as a streaming movie for my class in D2L?

NOT WITHOUT PERMISSION.  Streaming a very tiny clip from a movie may be considered "fair use".  You may contact MSU Libraries Permissions Specialist, Tyler Smeltekop to research the rights holder and request permissions for you stream a movie, however, getting rights to use movies can be expensive. The MSU Libraries subscribes to several streaming movie services, and you may be able to find the movie you want or a similar one that way.  Check the MSU Libraries Streaming Video Guide.  

May I post copies of images online in D2L?

NOT WITHOUT PERMISSION.  Posting images, artwork, photographs, or diagrams in D2L, whether you found them in MSU-subscribed electronic textbooks or through a Google search, usually requires seeking out the rights holder and asking for permission.    You may contact MSU Libraries Permissions Specialist, Tyler Smeltekop to research the rights holder. 

Exceptions: 

Some MSU Libraries  licensed electronic resources allow images to be used in D2L without extra permissions.  Please ask the Copyright Librarian for advice about the use of any specific product.  The MSU Libraries has  negotiated the rights to use images from certain medical or health textbooks in D2L and other MSU online course modules without requiring you to seek extra permissions.  The Health Sciences Image Resource Guide has details. 

Many images online are available to use without permission, but you are responsible to check the rights holder and the license information.  This includes public domain images (such as images scanned from books published prior to 1923), images that are published online under a Creative Commons License, and images published by the U.S. government.  Wikimedia Commons is a good place to start searching for such images.      

May I post a copy of my own article online?

MAYBE.  The question is whether you still own the rights to your work.  In most cases, publishers request that authors sign a form transferring copyright to them, or at least giving them the rights of dissemination.  Check the author agreements you signed for any books, book chapters, or journal articles you may have published.  In many cases, you may find the publisher does alllow you to post a copy of an individual article or book chapter in an institutional repository or on your own web site, but there may be a waiting period (say 6 months to a year after publication), or you may be allowed to post a pre-print but not the final PDF formatted version.  

Exception:  If you know you published your article or book chapter open access with a Creative Commons license, you retain copyright and the right to post your work. 

May I use images/videos/music in class?

USUALLY YES.  Generally, for educational purposes, instructors may use materials such as images, videos, or music in a face-to-face class without having to seek permissions.  However, if you wish to post your lecture slides online in D2L or post these materials for students to view or hear outside of a classroom, that is considered making a copy/publishing, and the rules change somewhat, even for distance education.  See the above FAQ about using images, streaming video, and other sources in D2L.      

May I show a movie to a group on campus?

NOT WITHOUT PERMISSION.  Outside of a classroom setting or an individual household, you must seek performance rights to show a movie to a group.  This includes DVDs and streaming video services.  You may contact MSU Libraries Permissions Specialist, Tyler Smeltekop to research the rights holder and request permissions on your behalf.  If you found the streaming video through the MSU Libraries Catalog, there is a chance that we have already negotiated performance rights.  

May I publish images in my dissertation?

NOT WITHOUT PERMISSION.  Publishing images, artwork, photographs, or diagrams (that you did not create) in your dissertation, whether you found them in MSU-subscribed databases or through a Google search, usually requires seeking out the rights holder and asking for permission.    You may contact MSU Libraries Permissions Specialist, Tyler Smeltekop to research the rights holder for you and let you know whether costs will be involved.  He can also help direct you to alternative sources of images if using the image you found will be too expensive to use. 

Exceptions: 

Many images online are available to use without permission, but you are responsible to check the rights holder and the license information.  This includes public domain images (such as images scanned from books published prior to 1923), images that are published online under a Creative Commons License, and images published by the U.S. government.  Wikimedia Commons is a good place to start searching for such images.