Copyright for Instructors

There are several ways to use copyrighted texts, images, sound recordings, films, and other resources in instruction. You can:

  • Use materials in person in the classroom within the normal course of instruction. For example, you can show a film, hand out a poem or book chapter, play a recording, or show an image.
  • Follow fair use guidelines. You must provide a copyright notice and store digital copies in Canvas.
  • Request licensing for a course pack through the SMU Bookstore.

Posting to Canvas for In-Person Courses

Materials posted in Canvas must be comparable to what would be shared in a live, in-person classroom (like a poem, essay, book chapter, or photograph). Do not post materials if the copyright status is unclear or post Interlibrary Loan materials. 

You can:

  • Scan of a small portion of a physical item in SMU Libraries or of your own legally purchased item (for example, 10-15% of the work).
  • Link to Library Search or directly to online materials with a permalink.
  • Make a purchase request for materials we do not own. SMU Libraries will purchase electronic copies of books for unlimited users when possible.

If none of these options work, you may contact the SMU Bookstore to request a course pack, request permissions from the publisher, or get Copyright Clearance. Learn more on our Licensing and Permission Research Guide.

Course Reserves

If your students need an entire work, placing it on course reserve is a good option.

The following items cannot be placed on course reserve:

  • Photocopies of materials
  • Course packs
  • Workbooks
  • Instructor Edition copies or manuals
  • Free copies that were sent for instruction
  • Advance Reader Copies
  • Interlibrary Loans


You can screen an entire film if for the purpose of instruction within the classroom. Film screenings for entertainment purposes outside the classroom require public performance rights.

We are unable to license or purchase Netflix or Amazon Prime films for classroom use. Netflix Original allows for educational screenings of documentaries.

Information here is intended as a guideline and should not be considered professional legal advice.