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Getting Started with Research

Your guide to Research, Plagiarism, Copyright, Citation, Style Guides, and Writing Guides

Introduction to Copyright

About Copyright

What is Copyright?

Image: Saving for Someday

The Educational use provisions of U.S. copyright laws grant students and teachers wide latitude when it comes to selecting materials for use in papers, lectures, postings and other assignments.

Educational use does not grant blanket permission, and unfortunately the law is not necessarily very clear either.  Do not throw up your hands in disgust or frustration.  Here are some guidelines to help you to make your copyright decisions.

The following video gives a good summary of copyright and fair use and how they affect you as a student.

About Fair Use

Copyright is murky, but there is some guidance and flexbilility.  The Copyright Law contains a provision called Fair Use (Section 107). The Fair Use factors assist you in determining what is allowed.

  • The purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes.
  • The nature of the copyrighted work.
  • The amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole.
  • The effect of the use upon the potential market for, or value of, the copyrighted work.

The Fair Use factors must be considered together; no single factor trumps the other.

University of Minnesota: Fair Use

Fair Use Resources

Posting to Moodle

If you need to post something to Moodle for one of your courses, here are some guidelines to follow:

Articles from Databases

If you need to post to your Moodle page it is OK to provide a link to an article in one of the library's databases. Our licenses permit linking.

Here are some examples of what you can do:

  • Link to an article in a library database.
  • Link to an image in ARTstor.
  • Link to a film clip in Films on Demand.
  • Link to Naxos music.
  • Email article links to members of your class.
  • You may post an article from a printed journal owned by the library.


Content from the library's books or from your own personal copies can be used, but should not exceed 10% of the total work.

Creative Commons

Use with attribution. What is Creative Commons?

Public Domain

Use with attribution. What is the Public Domain?

Government Resources

Use with attribution.

Items freely available from the Web

Use with attribution.

Potential Problems

These are examples of things you may not be able to use.

  • Do not upload an article you received through interlibrary loan.
  • Do not upload PDF's of articles from the library's databases; link instead.
  • Do not upload portions of broadcasts or films.  You can provide links (See "How do I use Video and Music" below).
  • Do not post links to music that you have recorded without obtaining written permission from copyright holder.
  • Do not upload images without written permission from the copyright holder.
  • Remember, one poem is a complete work; complete works cannot be posted.

Video and Music

The permitted use of films, videos, and music is more restrictive than other material formats.

It depends on whether you are using them in a physical classroom or a virtual classroom.

Physical Classroom

A legitimate copy of a film, video or sound recording with performance rights can be shown or played in a face-to-face environment: a classroom or other school space designated for instruction by the instructor or guest instructor.

Virtual Classroom

Permissions to use media in a virtual classroom come from adherence to The TEACH Act (Technology, Education, and Copyright Harmonization Act) of 2002. The instructor and institution using/displaying a video and film in distance education or a virtual classroom can only use a reasonable and limited showing of portions of the film/video in a "live" or synchronous class.

The TEACH Act also requires the institution to develop/make public a copyright policy. Augsburg has not yet put this in place.

For more on The TEACH Act, check out these links:

University of Minnesota Teaching: In Class and Online

Using Video and Film in a Virtual Classroom

Here's how you can use video and film in the virtual classroom.

  • Provide links in Moodle to one of the library's film databases.
  • Link to videos or films that are already available online such as or the US Government Channel.
  • Link to videos in Creative Commons.
  • Link to videos in the Public Domain.
  • Link to the Library's Naxos Music Library.
  • Link to news websites like WCCO or CNN.

Getting Permission

If the resource you want to use is not owned by the library or does not pass muster for Fair Use, obtaining permission from the copyright holder is an option.  If you decide to obtain permission and there is a cost involved, the cost is the responsibility of the department, not the library.

You can obtain permission by contacting the copyright holder or going through the Copyright Clearance Center.