Skip to main content
  • Hampton: (757) 825-2877 | Historic Triangle: (757) 258-6500
  • Getting Started: Copyright Basics

    For Educators

    Persistent Links and Copyright

    What are my options for providing reading material to my students?

    When you find a worthwhile reading in a research database, you have several options as to how to make this work available to your students. Among these are making photocopies, putting a copy on reserve in the library, downloading a copy and posting it to your Blackboard course, or linking to the article in the database through Blackboard. Issues to consider when deciding on how to make reading material available to students include not only which option would be more convenient for you and your students but also which option falls within Fair Use copyright guidelines.  Providing persistent links to articles or books is a one-stop shopping option that allows the database vendor to handle the copyright issues.

    What are persistent links?

    Persistent links, also called PURLS (Persistent Uniform Resource Locators), stable links, or durable links, are web addresses that remain consistent and seldom change over time.  For example, the Thomas Nelson library home page can always be reliably reached at However, a link to an article in one of the library’s databases could change each time you try to access it, because databases often create temporary session links at the moment you access them.

    What are the advantages to providing persistent links?

    • Responsibility falls on the database vendor to handle the copyright issues (e.g., to pay the copyright holder when there is a requirement for that to be done).You don't have to go through the hassle of getting the necessary permissions to: place copyrighted materials in the library's reserves, photocopy the material, or download the full article on your Bb course site.
    • Familiarizes students with research databases.Linking provides students the opportunity to see and use the database without having the added responsibility of evaluating and choosing the information from the database.
    • Students do not have to come to the library.They can access articles anytime and anywhere.

    Why should I use persistent links when I can simply upload an article into my Blackboard course?

    You can link to an article in a database or e-journal and remain copyright compliant, but you cannot always copy an article and upload it to your Blackboard without permission.Failure to follow copyright law can result in fines for Thomas Nelson.

    Another good reason is that if you link to an article, the database keeps track of how often it is being used.The librarians use this information when making decisions about journal or database cuts.Let us know the journal is important to you!

    How long will a persistent link stay active?

    A persistent link will remain active as long as the Thomas Nelson library or our consortiums continue to subscribe to the given database. In other cases, a database vendor may reorganize its database collections, change their domain name or lose licensing rights to certain periodicals. It is advisable to check links occasionally to make sure they are still active.

    See our guide on persistent links and Blackboard at

    Adapted from Persistent Links & Copyright, Samford University Library and Persistant Links, Oregon State University Libraries

    Creative Commons

    "Creative Commons is a nonprofit corporation dedicated to making it easier for people to share and build upon the work of others, consistent with the rules of copyright. We provide free licenses and other legal tools to mark creative work with the freedom the creator wants it to carry, so others can share, remix, use commercially, or any combination thereof."

    Creative Commons Zero - CC0

    See our Creative Commons page for more information.

    Fair Use Checklist

    Use these to determine if your use is Fair Use and retain a copy of your determination for records.