When providing course material online, it is important to review Carleton’s Copyright Policy and Copyright Guidance. For the most part, content that can be legally copied or displayed in your physical classroom can also be displayed in your online classroom, so long as access is limited to registered students.


  • Review copyright permissions and conduct a Fair Use analysis before sharing any media. Carleton policy affirms that it is an instructor’s right and responsibility to make their own decisions about making copies for students.
  • Link to existing licensed content when possible. Your Library Liaison can help you locate licensed material and identify stable links to that material so that it will work from off campus.
    • See guidance for Special Considerations for Multimedia Viewing/Listening, below. The Copyright Committee can help you think through this process and relevant considerations.
  • Seek permission to use copyrighted material as necessary. When copyright limits use, seek alternative content. Your Liaison Librarian can work with you to investigate whether alternative content is accessible that would help you achieve your learning goals.
  • Ensure access is restricted to registered students only when sharing copyrighted media in an online classroom.

Special considerations for multimedia viewing/listening

Digitizing and showing entire films or audio performances without written permission from the copyright holder is often not advisable. We recognize that there is conflicting information from various institutions that wrestle with this issue, but Carleton’s assessment is that laws that prohibit copying or distributing multimedia works, particularly the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), do not change–even during extraordinary circumstances, such as the Covid Pandemic.

Recording video of yourself, live-casting lectures, etc.

If it is legal to share slide images, video clips, and audio files in a physical classroom, it is likely legal to show them to students online via video conferencing or in your recorded video lectures–as long as your new course video is being shared through course websites that limited access via login to registered students.

Uploading copyrighted content and instructional videos for students

Best Practices

  • Limited access to enrolled students in the class.
  • Avoid broad permissions for uploaded media such as “Public” or “Anyone with the Link” or “Available to Anyone at Your Institution,” as it could allow students to distribute those files/links beyond your class.
  • Set sunrise/sunset dates, when possible, that limits access to days/times within the specific academic term.
  • Remind students they should not share copyrighted materials outside of class.
  • More information on limiting student access in Moodle is available here.

Best Hosting Options

Moodle, Panopto, Imagen, and Google Drive are good, Carleton-supported, options for uploading your instruction content because they allow you to easily restrict access to ONLY those students who are enrolled in your course. This restriction aids your Fair Use analysis significantly and allows you to make decisions as if you were teaching face-to-face (except in the case of multimedia works, as discussed above).

Other Hosting Options

While you can upload videos to YouTube and the like, it is more likely that you will encounter automated copyright enforcement such as a takedown notice or disabled audio or video content. These automated enforcement tools are often incorrect, and they can be appealed, but they may add unnecessary complications to your process.

Ownership of Online Content

Carleton’s Copyright Policy affirms that faculty, staff, and students own the copyrights for their academic works, including instructional content and submitted coursework.

Acknowledgements: Much of this page adapts content originally created by Nancy Sims for the University of Minnesota. Her work is licensed under a CC-BY license.