Copyright and Fair Use Guidelines at UTSA

A collection of resources specific to UTSA to help you navigate copyright in the classroom and as an author.

These copyright use scenarios address common questions from the faculty who are developing online courses.

For any additional questions, please contact ​

An instructor wants to post or has posted journal articles or other text-type content in an online course.

Because of UTSA’s 'Web of Rights,' UTSA faculty may use single articles, selected book chapters, and other selected library text-based (non-multimedia and non-image) materials in their online courses that are restricted only to enrolled students.

If anticipated use exceeds these guidelines, subject librarians can work with faculty members to conduct a fair use analysis or identify alternative materials available for use.

The least risky way to share content online is through linking to legitimate sources, rather than copying and posting materials.

To ensure seamless off-campus access for your students, use a persistent link which includes a proxy server prefix. To create links that work in Blackboard, see:

An instructor wants to upload copyrighted images or multimedia files (e.g., a film on DVD) to an online course.

If a specific copyrighted image is needed, librarians can help with a fair use analysis. There are also many sources of alternative copyright-cleared materials:


Streaming Media

Media Digitization

If a specific copyrighted video or audio recording on VHS, DVD, CD, or other media format is desired to be used in an online course, faculty may submit a request to digitize selected portions of a title. Librarians can assist with a fair use analysis, if desired.

Other Options

If a full-length copyrighted video or audio recording is desired, subject librarians can work directly with faculty to search for alternative content or investigate a special license (usually at additional cost). Alternatively, faculty may request permission from the copyright owner to use the full-length work. These options are subject to availability and may take extra time. 

Does a '10% rule' cover using a portion of any material, whether textbook, multimedia, images, or other type of content, in an online course?

Fair use is determined by considering four factors, only one of which is the amount of a work to be used, so relying only on a perceived '10% rule' is not sufficient. UTSA’s 'Web of Rights' expands copyright law to include posting single articles, selected book chapters, and other selected library text-based (non-multimedia and non-image) materials in online courses that are restricted only to enrolled students.

Copyright law imposes additional restrictions on materials created for the educational market, such as textbooks, workbooks, test booklets, and other works considered ‘consumable’ in the course of teaching. Use of these and other copyrighted works should not be intended to replace the purchase of entire items. For example, uploading excerpts of a textbook that replace students’ need to purchase that textbook is not recommended.

Multimedia is not covered the same way under UTSA’s 'Web of Rights', but the Libraries offer tens of thousands of copyright-cleared options, and fair use still applies.

What qualifies as transformative use under copyright law?

Transformative use is an aspect of fair use that may apply if all of the following conditions are met:

  • Use of someone else’s work adds value and repurposes the work for a new audience; and
  • The amount used is limited only to the amount needed to achieve the transformative purpose; and
  • The benefits of the use outweigh any potential harm to the copyright owner’s interests – e.g., the use wouldn't potentially affect sales of the material.

Some types of transformative use include incidental use, criticism and analysis, commentary, or illustration. See Section 4, Beyond Copyright Basics of the Copyright in Online UTSA Courses tutorial for more information:

An instructor is interested in using a textbook’s supplemental materials in an online course.

Review terms and conditions posted on the textbook webpage or publisher website. Some publishers may allow supplemental textbook materials to be posted or linked in an online course if access is restricted only to enrolled students. In some cases, the book must be formally adopted as the course’s textbook. If needed, the publisher may be contacted for permissions. 

An instructor has some ideas of content types and topics, but needs assistance locating open educational resources to include in an online course.