Course Readings, Blackboard and Coursepacks

Faculty may make supplemental readings available electronically to students by posting readings through Blackboard. The University Libraries offers assistance if a faculty member would like help digitizing the readings and/or getting copyright permission to post the readings.  Coursepacks are also an option for faculty members.

Information and FAQs
1. What are my options for supplying students with supplemental course readings?
Is there an advantage to using Blackboard or Coursepacks? 
2. What is considered Fair Use when posting course readings?
3. Can I load readings into Blackboard that I used to put on reserve?
4. What is required when posting class readings?
5. Can I reuse my readings semester after semester?
6. Is scanning or digitizing considered making a copy?
7. What about using electronic copies of music, audio or video recordings?
8. What about using images, music, audio or video recordings in Blackboard?


1. What are my options for supplying students with supplemental course materials and readings?
Is there an advantage to uploading materials into Blackboard myself or using Coursepacks?  




Blackboard has the advantage of being a self-contained site, so it is easier and more readily accessible for students and faculty. It is always best to link to a copyrighted item rather than to copy it. See the E-Reserves Tab sub-menu for linking instructions for items in our licensed electronic resources.

The faculty member may post readings whenever needed.

The TEACH Act or Fair Use apply to the use of copyrighted material in Blackboard.




Faculty may not always identify licensed online journal articles or e-books contained in library electronic resources that are covered for copyright.

If a reading is not linkable through a licensed database, faculty must run a fair use analysis and a take care of their own permissions and royalties for non-compliant copyrighted material.

Faculty may be unfamilier with the TEACH Act requirements that apply to Blackboard, although faculty can also rely on fair use interpretation instead.


Blackboard with library assistance


The Library can manage faculty course reserves, print or electronic. The advantage to library management is that the library will pay for permissions and royalty payments up to $100 per course. Materials exceeding $100 will have to be covered by other means such as an academic department. You may need to consider alternative readings.

Library staff will alert faculty if a reading is available through a library licensed database or e-book collection. They can also create the durable links to specific articles, e-books and chapters.  Search electronic collections now

Faculty will work with library staff to supply the bibliographic information. Staff will also ensure proper copyright notices appear on course materials.



Not many, but staff do need 2-5 working days lead time.



The UMKC Bookstore can arrange to have coursepacks made for your class readings. The Bookstore can arrange for permissions and any royalty fees will be recovered when the student purchases the coursepack relieving faculty from this responsibility. If you are attempting to limit the cost of a coursepack for students, the Bookstore personnel can tell you the approximate cost. You can also check the Copyright Clearance Center website for permission fees yourself.




This method probably requires the longest lead time for preparation of coursepacks.


2. What is considered Fair Use when posting course materials electronically?

This is a summary. The UM Collected Rules and Regs follow the "Classroom Guidelines" for Reserve and E-Reserve material. (For the underlying congressional reports and discussion of reproduction for librarians and educators, follow this link.)

  • a single chapter from a book
  • a single article from a periodical or newspaper
  • a single short story or short essay (less than 2,500 words)
  • one short poem (less than 250 words)
  • one chart, graph, diagram, drawing, cartoon or picture per book, periodical, or newspaper issue
  • all lecture notes, answer keys, tests, etc. that are owned by faculty
  • The Music Library Association has a helpful statement on the "Digital Transmission of Electronic Reserves."


3. Can I load readings into Blackboard that I used to put on E-reserve?

Yes, but uploading copyrighted readings into Blackboard does not change the necessity of running a Fair Use analysis, employing the TEACH Act or of seeking permissions when necessary. The Miller Nichols Library Circulation Services Department can assist your handling of course reading by loading materials into your Blackboard course site.


4. What is required when posting class readings?

  • Be sure posted copies carry a complete citation and a copyright notice ("This material may be protected by copyright law (Title 17 U.S. Code)"
  • Only copy the portion of the work that is necessary and no more for the intended use.
  • Only students enrolled in a course should have access to the Blackboard site.


5. Can I reuse my readings semester after semester without permission?

There is no definitive answer. Repeated use of material might violate the spirit of fair use if the amount and market effect are sizeable. When posting material in Blackboard faculty must weigh all the fair use factors. Bear in mind that obtaining permissions through the Copyright Clearance Center is, often, an easy process. In order to mitigate risk to the University, it is library policy to seek permission for material that is reused on reserve that the library does not own.

The 2012 Georgia State University district court case on e-reserves dismissed the Classroom Guidelines which is the document restricting the reuse of copyrighted materials. This case only applies to the Georgia 6th District but is informative for us.

A good, risk-free way to proceed is to use University licensed resources which contain copyright clearances.


6. Is scanning or digitizing my readings considered making a copy?

Yes. Library staff can scan documents. If the request for a scanned item exceeds Fair Use, Library staff can secure permission up to the $100 limit per course. See the Law Library for reserve procedures pertaining to law faculty.


7. What about using electronic copies of music, audio or video recordings?

 This is a time when faculty are encouraged, whenever possible, to link to University licensed databases or resources such as:

The Guidelines for Educational Uses of Music (University of Texas) lay out helpful detail.


8. What about using images, music, audio or video recordings in Blackboard?

The use of these media in Blackboard involve the issues of performance and display in digital transmissions. Faculty may refer to either the  TEACH Act page  or the Fair Use page for guidance.  Some Fair Use answers appear above. Fair Use in most cases would not grant more freedoms than the Teach Act. (Kevin Smith)

The best way to transmit media in Blackboard in order to be in compliance with the TEACH Act is with the use of streaming. UMKC Information Services has two streaming servers. One is a Windows Media Server and one is a Flash Interactive Media Server. See UMKC IS website. For information on whether your film can be streamed in Blackboard and alternatives if it cannot, check our flowchart: Can I stream this movie in Blackboard

Other suggested methods for protecting copyrighted images or photos include:

  • the use of low resolution images and thumbnails
  • non-printable PDF
  • digital watermarks
  • disabling the right click copy function
  • overlaying the image with a transparent GIF
  • using the image as a background in a table or
  • using digital rights management
  • For details see "Tips and Techniques to Protect Images on the Internet."

When considering the use of media in online teaching, technological protection measures or digital rights management may come into play. The Digital Millennium Copyright Act carries strict prohibitions against overriding TPMs and DRM. See the DMCA page for a brief explanation.


Further resources:
University Libraries' Guidelines for placing print materials on E-Reserves
UMKC Law Library Reserves Procedures
University of Missouri Collected Rules and Regulations, Chapt 100.010
"Use of Copyrighted Materials in Teaching and Research"
"Reproduction of Copyrighted Works by Educators and Librarians" summarizes theHouse Judiciary Committee Report of 1976 (No. 94-1476), the Senate Judiciary Committee report of 1975, and congressional debates.


Search UMKC licensed online journals and e-books