How to Use Text

Collage of Book Pages

Initial Considerations

Whenever considering use of a third party's textual content, remember the best policy is:

  • "When in doubt, link out!"

If linking is not an option, next ask yourself:

  • (1)  Is there a clear and direct pedagogical purpose to my intended use of this article, book chapter, or report in my lesson?
  • (2)  Have you or UNT legally licensed/purchased a copy of the text?

If the answer to both of the above questions is "yes," then you might be able to rely upon one of the copyright exceptions described below in more detail, including fair use. Please read through the below FAQ to determine if one of the exceptions would apply to your circumstances.

Remember, you want to use copyrighted material in such a way as to not end up in a lawsuit. Sure, you may prevail in court, but at what cost? You may win your case, but be seriously financially damaged, so please think carefully before using copyrighted material without permission.

Frequently Asked Questions about Using Print and Digital Text

May I download and share a copy of a newspaper or journal article within my course, or must I link to the article?

  • If the newspaper or journal is hosted by its publisher online behind a paywall and not freely available, best practices provide that one should link directly to those articles which are owned or licensed by UNT through UNT Libraries' database subscriptions.  An ideal place to start is the Journals Catalog Search Page here.  Search by title of the newspaper or journal, and browse for the edition of the article you need.  Once the article is located within a database service (such as ABI/Inform or, instructors should be able to create a permalink to the article.  Look for a "share" link and a "copy link" menu selection, or their equivalent.  Another useful web site is the Libraries' proxy link creation tool here.  The tool will check your link and tell you if it will work for both on-campus and off-campus students.  If instructors need any help creating a link, reach out to your subject librarian here

    If you wish to link to an article outside of the Library databases that is not protected by a paywall, it is safe to link to the web site which hosts the article. 

    Please never download a copy of the article and upload it to your course for sharing with students, unless you or UNT have specifically purchased a license from the publisher to do so.

May I scan an article from a printed magazine and post it in my online course?

  • If you don't have permission from the copyright owner, the safe option is to link to the article's web site, rather than duplicate and publish your own copy of the article within your course.

How much content can I legally copy out of a book chapter, magazine, or journal for use in my online lessons?

  • If UNT licenses the content for use in courses, you may be able to use the entire work.  Look to the terms of the specific license for that copyrighted work.  If you or UNT do not have a license agreement with the publisher/owner, next look to all three copyright exceptions and defenses.  If you are utilizing a legally purchased copy of the work, and your intended use of the work is directly pedagogical, in some cases, an entire work may be used in face-to-face instruction.  For online instruction, conduct an analysis using the information pertaining to the TEACH Act and fair use here.

How long can I leave copyrighted content online without permission using Fair Use or Teach Act exceptions?

  • UNT reserves and copyright law require that all reserve content be renewed each semester.  Access to third party copyrighted works should be restricted to enrolled students in your course, and once the course is over access to the materials should cease.  Steps should always be taken to prevent the download of video and audio works.  Be sure to read more about all the exceptions and defenses to copyright infringement here.

If I wrote the book, may I put it in my online course?

  • It depends. If you reserved your right to display, reproduce, distribute, and make derivative works of your writing, then yes. If you did not, you may need to seek permission from the publisher. The SPARC Addendum can help you reserve your literary rights.

My textbook isn't yet available to students. May I copy and deliver some chapters online until the book arrives?

  • First confirm your licensing terms/copyrights with your publisher, and if sharing chapters online of your own book would not violate copyrights or terms, contact the UNT library about placing book chapters on e-reserve.

Can I post chapters or sections of an e-book in my online course?

  • Contact your UNT library to determine what the e-book licensing agreement permits.

How can the Library Liaison, CLEAR Compliance Coordinator, and Office of General Counsel help me with copyright issues?

  • Your Library Liaison can help you with placing content on reserve, e-reserve, and locating answers to copyright issues.  The CLEAR Compliance Coordinator, can provide copyright and trademark legal information and best practices.  The Office of Legal Counsel can provide legal advice concerning your intended use of copyrighted works and trademarks.

If I personally subscribe to an online newspaper/journal, does that give me permission to provide copies of those articles in my course?

  • The terms of use for a personal subscription to an online newspaper/journal typically limits access to the individual.  This legally prevents a professor from distributing copies to students.  In such circumstances, articles in a course should be owned or licensed by UNT. Check the library's subscriptions to see if your article is available.

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