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Open Educational Resources and Textbook Affordability for Faculty

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Copyright Limitations of Non-OER Textbooks

Providing Access to Students

Providing digital access to textbooks for students that do not have physical copies of your textbooks can cause legal complications for the college. This page will give you some general guidelines and scenarios that you can follow. Given the current public health crisis, it is crucial that we provide access to materials in a responsible manner.

Digital Access Guidelines

  1. ​Digital access to your textbook should be limited. Basically, you should only be supplying information from the textbook that is absolutely necessary for the current/relevant lesson being taught. Think about it this way, if you are teaching a lesson during week two, then you should only make relevant information from the textbook for that lesson during that week, and once the lesson is over- remove access to those files.
  2. It is also crucial to limit access to digitized portions of textbooks to students currently enrolled in your specific course only. Publishers are weary of freely available sections of their textbooks available to entire college campus populations. 

Rule of Thumb

During uncertain times when access to physical textbooks is limited, copyright rules such a Fair Use can be applied to allow instructors to teach effectively. It is up to the individual instructor to ask if putting digital material online for students to access is the best reasonable solution, and if there are policies in place that prevent copyright abuse. Limiting the scope of digitized material to only include relevant information for the lesson at hand, limiting the time the material is available online, and limiting the audience that has access to these materials are necessary steps we must take to remain compliant with copyright law.

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