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© 2016 GW Libraries & Academic Innovation
Estelle and Melvin Gelman LibraryEckles Library at the Mount Vernon CampusVirginia Science and Technology Campus Library

Copyright and Blackboard

The George Washington University is committed to promoting practices that are in compliance with federal copyright law.  The purpose of this document is to provide guidance to GW faculty on how to utilize Blackboard while remaining compliant with copyright law.   It is important to note that posting an item on a password-protected site like Blackboard does not exempt a faculty member from his or her responsibilities to adhere to copyright law. 


The following are general guidelines that GW faculty should always consider when posting material on Blackboard:

  1. Faculty shall only post materials onto Blackboard for a non-profit, educational use. 
  2. Faculty must include the proper attributions and citations for all posted materials.
  3. Faculty should include the following Copyright Notice on their Blackboard sites:

    a.   COPYRIGHT NOTICE: The Copyright Act (17 U.S.C. § 10) governs the rights attributed to owners of copyrighted work.  Under certain circumstances, educational institutions may provide copies of copyrighted works to students.  The copies may not be copied nor used for any other purpose besides private study, scholarship, or research.  Users should not provide electronic copies of any materials provided on this course’s Blackboard site to unauthorized users.  If a user fails to comply with Fair Use restrictions, he/she may be held liable for copyright infringement.  No further transmission or electronic distribution is permitted. 

  4. Access to course materials on Blackboard should be limited to the faculty and students currently registered for that particular course.  Once the course is completed, students should no longer have access to any posted course materials.
  5. Faculty must use best efforts, where feasible, to retrieve permission from the copyright owners of any material posted.  

Posting Copyrighted Material without Permission:

  1. Faculty should never post the entirety of a copyrighted work without the copyright owner’s express permission.  For example, faculty should not upload an entire book onto Blackboard.
  2. Whenever possible, faculty should post a weblink (“link”) to a website instead of posting a copy of the website’s content onto Blackboard. 
  3. If linking to a website is not possible, faculty should consider adding the material to E-Reserves and then posting a link to the E-Reserves material onto Blackboard.  For inquiries related to adding material to E-Reserves and/or linking to material on E-Reserves, please contact your School’s librarian. 
  4. If linking to a website or E-Reserves is not feasible, utilize the following chart which provides guidance on the use of copyrighted materials without permission.


Permitted Use

Prohibited Use

Website (containing copyrighted material)

Link to the Website via Blackboard.

Copying and pasting the content of the website onto Blackboard.

Web Image

Must be educational in nature; posted for one semester.

Repeated use over multiple semesters.

Article from E-Reserves or Other Library Database

Direct link to the article.

Copying and pasting the content of the website onto Blackboard.

Complete Prose Work

Must be educational in nature and under 2,500 words.

Repeated use over multiple semesters; posting a work over 2,500 words.

Scanned Portion of a Prose Work

Must be educational in nature and either less than 10% of the entire work, or 1,000 words, whichever is shorter.  Unless the work is less than 5,000 words, then 500 words can be copied in any instance.

Repeated use over multiple semesters or use of more than the allotted percentages.

Scanned Article from a Journal, Trade Publication, or Magazine

A single article for one semester.

Multiple articles from the same publication or repeated use over multiple semesters.

Sources: Blackboard, Inc.’s Copyright, Fair Use, & Educational Multimedia FAQ;

The George Washington University’s Use and Reproduction of Copyrighted Materials Policy.


If you have any questions, please contact the following GW offices:

Regarding use and reproduction of copyrighted materials:  Contact the librarian for your School’s library.

Regarding ownership of copyright:  Contact Dr. Dianne Martin, GW’s Copyright Administrator and Associate Vice President for Graduate Studies & Academic Affairs (dmartin@gwu.edu or 202-994-0513).

For other questions related to Copyright Law:  Contact the Office of the Senior Vice President and General Counsel (gwlegal@gwu.edu or 202-994-6503). 

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