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Guide to Copyright

Notes & Attributions

Content on this site adapted with permission from the Purdue University Office of Copyright.  

It is the responsibility of all members of the Purdue University Global community to make a good faith determination that their use of copyrighted materials complies with the United States Copyright Law and Purdue University Global's policies.  The purpose of this site is to educate the Purdue University Global community on copyright.  The information provided on this site should not be considered legal counsel or legal advice. 

Linking to Online Content

In general, links are not a violation of copyright and you can link to legally available online content and websites.  For many instructors, staff, and students, linking may often be preferable to conducting a fair use evaluation or using other exemptions that would be required if sharing a digital copy of a work. 

Links and Permissions

If you are linking to a webpage or other legally available online content, you also typically do not need to seek permission from the rights holder, especially if:

  • You are linking out to (not copying and uploading or embedding) a work legally and openly available on the internet.  Legal links to websites and other online content do not generally require seeking permission.
  • You are linking to an item in a database licensed by the Purdue Global Library, using the persistent link tool within the database (with rare exception; see this guide for steps and details on linking to PG Library content).
  • You are linking to a work licensed by a Creative Commons license (make sure to follow the requirements of the license when doing so).
  • You are linking to an article from an open access journal or on a site where the article is uploaded by the copyright holder, like PubMed Central.
  • You are linking to a work that is in the public domain.
  • You are linking to a webpage and not a specific file.  If you want to link to a specific file, like a JPEG, PNG, or GIF image file, you may want to seek permission first, depending on the type of file and use.  

Other Best Practices

When you link to content, consider the following best practices:

  • Ensure the link was legally made available, which will usually mean it was published online by the copyright-holder or uploaded with permission by them. For example, an article from CNN will be found at “,” not “” Evaluations on this are on a case-by-case basis and up to you to investigate.

  • Consider the link’s durability. How likely to break or to change is the link?

  • If linking to a video, is the video ADA-compliant? Is there a script? Closed-captioning? Can the video be paused?

  • Evaluate the link for authority and quality.

  • Check if the PG Library has a copy of the article, book, or other work you’d like to link to and link to the copy in their databases if available.

  • We recommend always linking to content instead of embedding content, even YouTube videos, especially for anyone developing curriculum.  Embedding content can be seen as redistributing a duplication, and therefore would require a fair use evaluation, and if not covered, seeking permission.  

Just because you can link to something, does not mean you should. You must use good judgment to ensure links were legally made available, durable, accessible, and of high quality. When in doubt, ask yourself if you would be okay with somebody posting this content if it were your original material?