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Waidner-Spahr Library

Copyright & Scholarly Communication: Moodle Best Practices

Why Use Moodle?

As the College’s password protected course management system, Moodle helps prevents unauthorized users from accessing content that may be under copyright or licensed only for Dickinson users.

Best Practices for Posting Materials to Moodle

Limit the amount of copyrighted materials posted to Moodle

Small portions of material may meet "fair use" guidelines. As a general principle, use only as much of a work as is needed, in compliance with the four factors of the fair use exception to copyright law, to meet your educational objectives -- unless you obtain a license or written permission to use more.  More information and tools for determining "fair use" are on the Home tab of this guide.

Use links to legal copies of materials, rather than creating and uploading copies to Moodle

For how to link to various library online materials see:  Linking to Library Resources

Reasons linking is preferable include:

  • Avoidance of inadvertent copyright violation, since you are pointing to the document on the original server, in its original context.
  • Compliance with library subscription terms.  Copying and posting of full-text is actually prohibited for some library online resources, but linking to them from Moodle is okay. 
  • The author of the article will know how many times it has actually been accessed.  This use data is often referred to as an “altmetric”; altmetrics are one measure of an article’s reach or impact. If one person downloads it and passes it around, it looks like the article only received a single use.  But if that person shares the link, the number of actual uses is recorded each time the link is accessed.
  • Posting lots of PDFs increases the storage space for which Information Services has to pay.  The cumulative load of multiple documents for many hundreds of courses across the college year after year can be quite substantial.

If you decide to post a full PDF of a document for a particular course, it is recommended that you delete it from the server at the end of the course.  This limited use (for the term of the course) supports that your use is more likely to qualify as “fair use” and also helps address the server space issue.

Consider this a teachable moment

Better still, consider posting only the citations to articles available online through the library.  Have students find the articles using library databases, so that they can practice the research process that they will need throughout college and after they graduate.  Students can learn how to access an article from a citation by watching the brief 'Finding a Journal Article From a Citation' tutorial.

Using films and music within Moodle

You should use only as much of the film as required and in compliance with fair use exception unless a license or written permission is obtained.  Academic Technology may be able to digitize a small portion or clip of a film within the guidelines of fair use; this segment can then be place in your Moodle course for the semester. The library has purchased or subscribed to some collections of online streamed films, to which you may link from Moodle (e.g., Films on Demand, AVON, Docuseek2, etc.). For films required for course use, the library may be able to obtain a temporary streaming license or purchase a DVD copy of a film to place on reserve.   Films for course use can be requested using the New Film Request Form (for films not already available through the library), or the Reserves & Film Booking Request Form (for films on DVD already owned by the library). 

The library also subscribes to collections of streaming audio and music in various genres.  With audio, as with video, you are allowed to create a short clip or sample under the guidelines of fair use.  However, if you can find a legal online version of the song or audio file, it may be easier to simply link to it from Moodle.

Delete copyrighted content after the class ends

Copies of copyrighted material should not be retained on Moodle permanently. By limiting the use to the term of the course you support that your use is “fair use” and this also helps address the server space document storage issue.

Have more questions?

Contact your Liaison Librarian or Academic Technology Liaison to discuss options for meeting your educational objectives.