You, the instructor, are responsible for evaluating copyright compliance on all material you share or upload in Canvas. UMKC Libraries provide copyright guidance for Canvas and Coursepacks. Using and sharing materials via Canvas Commons brings more complexities to follow.

Canvas Commons allows you to find, import, and share learning resources with other educators. When you share material through Commons, you can choose to make it available to (1) only yourself, (2) all Canvas users at UMKC, or (3) Canvas users worldwide. Before sharing your material or using material others have shared, check it for copyright compliance.

Do not share content on Commons unless you personally hold the copyright or have conducted a successful fair use evaluation. Be careful that material you share on Commons does not contain content copyrighted by others, beyond the bounds of fair use. For example, do not include article pdfs downloaded from a journal publisher, JSTOR, EBSCO, ProQuest, etc. Instead, link to the articles. If you choose to share beyond UMKC, non-UMKC instructors can replace the UMKC links with links to their own institutional subscriptions.

When you share your content on Canvas Commons, you must select a content license. Your options are: copyrighted, public domain, and various Creative Commons licenses. Copyrighted is UMKC’s default license type, but may not be the best choice for your situation.

  • Copyrighted “means original content created by you.” Usually, “copyrighted” means you do not want others to use your work, but that would defeat the purpose of sharing it in Commons. Canvas documentation is unclear, but the “Copyrighted” option probably implies a license for others to use your content only within Commons and only in its original, unmodified form. If this is your intent, consider instead selecting the Creative Commons CC – Attribution NoDerivs or CC Attribution-Non-Commercial-NoDerivs
  • Public domain “means the work has no known copyright and is free to use without restrictions.” Only choose public domain if you are confident any content taken from others is not under copyright and you want to release you own work for any and all uses, including uses which are commercial, unattributed, and/or modified (derivative) versions.
  • Creative Commons licenses allow you to specifically detail which uses you will allow. For example, you might choose a CC – Attribution ShareAlike license to allow others to “copy, distribute, and use your course content only if they redistribute your content using the same Creative Commons license” or a CC – Attribution No Derivs license to state “that others can use your course content, but they may not change it in any way.”

When you use materials others have shared in Commons, be sure you follow the creator’s license terms. Also be alert for copyrighted material posted by someone who is not the copyright owner, as when searching the general internet.

The UMKC Libraries Copyright Team provides guidance (but not legal advice) on copyright to UMKC students, faculty, and staff. See their Copyright Guide or email them at