As a university, we want to support authors in their creation of works that are either protected by copyright or available via Creative Commons. We also want to provide guidelines about what is and isn’t allowed to be posted within Canvas by educators.
Canvas users are prompted to add usage rights tags to the files they upload. Canvas allows instructors to select and upload multiple files at once and it has an efficient bulk process for tagging these files with appropriate usage rights. Students will be unable to view newly added files until instructors add usage rights tags.
How to add usage rights and publish your files
When you upload files to Canvas Files, files will be unpublished () by default and students cannot see them.
- To publish files, you will first need to add a usage right designation, either one-by-one or in bulk.
- Tag a single file: Click the exclamation pointicon
- Tag multiple files: Command or control-click multiple rows to select them or if all items in a nested folder will share the same tag, click to the folder’s row. Next, click the copyright button that appears in the toolbar above. (NOTE: you will see a yellow alert “Items selected have different usage rights” but you can ignore this; it appears even if the selected items have the same usage rights and doesn’t prevent you from taking action.)
- Choose one of five usage rights tags. These tags will be visible to students and will be taken by them as a sign as to what needs to stay private to the class or can be shared freely, so if you are unsure, learn more about the five usage rights below.
- Add a copyright holder or Creative Commons license: Citations are not required by Canvas, but may be required by the rights holder as part of your license. If you are using material with a Creative Commons license, you will need to specify which type.
- Publish when you are ready: You can publish your file while you are tagging them with usage rights by selecting the Publish () radio button. Or, you can publish them in bulk at a later point, by selecting all (control or command-A) in directory, clicking the Manage Access button (), and selecting Publish. You cannot, unfortunately, publish the content of folders by selecting the folder; you will need to select the contents of the folder, not the folder itself.
- You can upload and link new files directly to any page with a Rich Content Editor
via the Files tab of the Content Selector. When you do so, you will be prompted to add a usage right; if you elect not to select one, the file will remain unpublished. (Images can be selected for embedding, but not uploaded using the Content selector)
What are the five usage rights?
- I hold the copyright: You created the work being shared in whole or components of your work clearly fall under one of the four categories below.
- I have obtained permission to use this file: Learn more about getting permission from the creator of the work you’d like to share.
- The material is under public domain: Publicly posted material is usually still copyrighted, so here is a review of what is actually public domain.
- The material is subject to an exception- e.g. fair use, the right to quote, or others under applicable copyright laws: Please read more about fair use below, as it is more limited for electronic distribution of files than it is in a face-to-face setting.
- The material is licensed under Creative Commons: If the work you want to use was shared under a Creative Commons license, you don’t have to contact the owner or pay a royalty as long as you follow their instructions as to how their work can be reused.
Doesn’t fair use cover all materials I upload to my Canvas site?
No, educational use, password protection, limitation to enrolled students, and citation do not alone guarantee that uploading material to Canvas would be considered fair.
To learn more about what is expected of you, please visit the Stanford Copyright Reminder, which includes common copyright situations, the most relevant being online course readers, and an explanation of the principle of fair use.
In general, it’s worth exploring other options rather than relying on fair use.
What do I do if I can’t rely on fair use?
- Link to material on the web or in the libraries: Find your resource on the public web, search the Stanford Library’s holdings to find a resource, then use Pages or Assignments to add a link in Canvas.
- Put material on reserve in the library, including e-reserves of films, journal articles, and texts. Beginning in fall 2020, library reserves will appear automatically in the navigation of your Canvas site if you have one.
- License the material:
- Make a printed course reader that can be purchased through the bookstore.
- Ask the creator for permission to use the work
- Replace the material with Creative Commons or public domain work
- Use it in class but don’t post it: Most copyrighted material is okay to use in the classroom
- If all else fails, you may post “entire non-dramatic works and reasonable and limited portions of any other audiovisual work without obtaining permission” online within Canvas if you do so in a way that complies with the requirements of the TEACH Act. We recommend that course videos are shared in the Panopto Videos tool (aka Course Videos) because it has a better upload experience, unlimited quota, will automatically expire videos at the end of the term. Note: Graduate School of Business and School of Medicine have their own video hosting solutions.