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I recently fielded a question that seemed so basic, so fundamental, that I thought it deserved a blog post.

Many faculty today are cognizant of licensing restrictions. They diligently hunt for content published under Creative Commons, or in the public domain, to use in their courses. That's a good thing: they don't want to infringe anyone's copyright.

Sometimes, though, that perfect piece of content is out there on the open internet, tantalizingly available, but published under plain old-fashioned copyright with all the encumbrances and restrictions that implies.

You don't want to embed a copyrighted video (for example) in your online course materials. But is there a workaround? Can you, perhaps, just share the link, send your students over to YouTube, let them watch the video over there, instead of on your course website or in your LMS?

In a word:


But don't take my word for it. Here's what the "boutique law firm" InfoLawGroup LLP has to say about it.

A recent federal court decision confirms that, without more, merely providing a link to copyrighted content is not direct infringement of the copyright in that content.

For more details, read the full article, "Does Linking to Content Infringe Copyright?"

The distinction, as I understand it, is that embedding a video is like republishing it. You wouldn't republish a copyrighted book without permission, right? But sharing a link is like sending your students to the library to check the book out on their own.

Happy linking!

Photo credit: "Link" by Aarthi Ramamurthy. Licensed under Creative Commons, of course!


Links to outside web sites can be added to content areas as external links. By adding hyperlinks to your course you can point your students to web pages and Internet resources whose contents are not saved inside of your Blackboard course but are instead located on the Internet.

Follow these steps to do it.
To add a hyperlink to a content area, go to the [Control Panel] of the course you want to add the hyperlink to.

Note: If the content area you want to add the hyperlink to is not shown you will have to create it by modifying the course menu. Refer to Bb Tip #7 for instructions on “Customizing the Course Menu”.

Assuming the content area you want to add the hyperlink to is shown, you should click on the link for that content area in the [Control Panel]. Next select the [Add External Link] button on the toolbar. Enter a name for the hyperlink in the name field, the URL in the URL field, and enter a description or whatever information you want to appear below the hyperlink in the text box. Under Options choose the appropriate options for content availability, tracking views and any date/time restrictions. Click the [Submit] button when you are done.

Want more information?
Step-by-step instructions are available [PDF].
Visit the Blackboard FAQs for additional blackboard information
or email or call Janice Florent: (504) 520-7418