Copyright On-Campus

Can I distribute copies of a journal article to students?

In general you may make copies of a copyright-protected article to distribute to students in your course if the article is published in an open access journal, or if it is covered by fair dealing, an institutional or Creative Commons license, or permission from the copyright owner to distribute the work for your intended purpose.  A July 2012 Supreme Court of Canada decision provides guidance on how to assess whether fair dealing applies to teachers' copying of short excerpts for use by students as class handouts.

If fair dealing and open access do not apply, check whether the article you wish to distribute to your class is covered under an institutional license agreement by searching for the journal title in the University Library's Copyright Permissions Look-up tool.  Another option is to see whether your desired copying is covered under the University's Access Copyright license by using Access Copyright's Repertoire Look up Tool and verifying that the amount you wish to copy is permissible.

If you wish to provide students in your course with access to a collection of articles, your options may include providing persistent links to the articles in Moodle, placing articles on Print or Electronic Reserve, and obtaining permission from copyright owners to reproduce the articles in a coursepack or in a digital format for distribution in a secure electronic environment such as Moodle.  To discuss options that may be applicable to the articles you have selected, please contact the University Copyright Advisor.

Can I share my copies of articles and chapters with others?

If by "share" you mean allowing others to make further copies of authorized reproductions that belong to you  (e.g., copies made for your personal use from lawfully obtained originals), this may be an infringement of copyright.  An exception may exist if your reproduction is an open access work for which the copyright owner permits public distribution, but you need to verify that this is the case.  If you acquired a copy of a work through interlibrary loan, it was likely provided to you with the express limitation that redistribution is not permitted.  Look for a notice prohibiting further redistribution and other use restrictions on the document itself, its cover page, or in the delivery message you received.

On the other hand, if you wish to share your legally obtained copies of works with other individuals by allowing them to read your copies, there are no restrictions on this type of sharing provided that no further reproductions are made from your copies.

When applicable, keep in mind that sharing links to articles and chapters is preferable to sharing copies because links are not copies of works.  In addition, linking to works covered by institutional licenses allows the Library to track use and obtain data about the importance of those works to the University.  The Library provides instructions on how to create persistent links for its licensed databases, and the Library's Information and Research Assistance Desk staff can provide assistance if needed. 

May I photocopy and distribute class handouts to students?

If you wish to distribute classroom handouts containing a substantial part of one or more copyright-protected works, first ensure that appropriate permissions are in place if any are required. On July 12, 2012 the Supreme Court of Canada rendered an important affirmative decision that addressed "whether photocopies made by teachers to distribute to students as part of class instruction can qualify as fair dealing under the Copyright Act" (2012 SCC 37). The decision took into account the six fair dealing factors laid out in a previous Supreme Court of Canada decision (2004 SCC 13).

For U of L instructors this means that copying short excerpts for distribution as class handouts to students enrolled in your courses may qualify as fair dealing if the copying, on balance, is fair according to the six fair dealing factors. For assistance in assessing whether fair dealing applies to the copies you wish to make, please contact the University Copyright Advisor

Can I include images in slide presentations?

In general you may copy images of copyright works into slide presentations without copyright owner permission, but limitations apply.  The educational exceptions to copyright infringement in the Copyright Act allow you "to reproduce a work, or do any other necessary act, in order to display it."  This exception applies only when there is no commercially available version of the work in a medium appropriate for the instructional purpose.

Note that this exception is limited to reproduction of a work to display it for instructional purposes on the University's premises (i.e., on-campus).  It does not allow you to make and distribute copies of your slides containing the copied works, although you could create a different version of your presentation for distribution purposes that contains only links to, or brief textual descriptions of, the copyright works.  If you wish to include a substantial part of a copyright work in a slide presentation delivered outside of the University's premises or make the presentation available online, because these uses fall outside of the educational exceptions you may do so only if your use is covered by an open or institutional license, the fair dealing exceptions, or permission obtained from the copyright owner.

If the images you wish to use are freely available on the Internet, see the FAQ on using Web-accessible material for educational purposes.

Can I play music in class?

Yes, section 29.5 (b) of the educational exceptions to copyright infringement in the Copyright Act provides that the public performance of a sound recording in class is not an infringement of copyright as long as:

  • the sound recording is not an infringing copy
  • the performance takes place on the University's premises
  • the performance is for educational or training purposes and not for profit, and
  • the audience consists primarily of the University's students, instructors or individuals responsible for the University's curriculum.

But if you wish to use music for purposes other than educational (e.g., providing background music at a conference or in an athletic facility), a license must be obtained from the copyright collective SOCAN. Please contact the University Copyright Advisor if you think your desired use of music may require a license.

Can I play videos in class?

Yes, section 29.5 (d) of the educational exceptions to copyright infringement in the Copyright Act provides that the public performance of a film or video in class is not an infringement of copyright as long as:

  • the work is not an infringing copy
  • the performance takes place on the University's premises
  • the performance is for educational or training purposes and not for profit, and
  • the audience consists primarily of the University's students, instructors or individuals responsible for the University's curriculum.

In addition, section 29.6 of the Copyright Act provides that an educational institution may make a single copy of a television news or news commentary program, excluding documentaries, in order to screen the copy for its students for educational or training purposes.

For more information see the Films and Videos page in the Permissions section of this website.

Can students perform a play on campus?

Yes, section 29.5 (a) of the educational exceptions to copyright infringement in the Copyright Act provides that a live performance of a work is not an infringement of copyright as long as:

  • the performance is performed primarily by the University's students
  • the performance takes place on the University's premises
  • the performance is for educational or training purposes and not for profit, and
  • the audience consists primarily of the University's students, instructors or individuals responsible for the University's curriculum.

Are there educational exceptions to infringement for other instructional purposes?

Yes, section 29.4 of the educational exceptions to copyright infringement in the Copyright Act permits reproduction of a work, as well as any other act necessary to reproduce the work, in order to display the work on the University's premises for purposes of education or training. Also permitted is the reproduction, translation or public performance of a work on the University's premises for examination or test purposes. These uses are permitted as long as the work is not commercially available in a medium appropriate for the purposes referred to in section 29.4.

Are there sources of open access works that I can use in class?

"Open access" is defined by the Budapest Open Access Initiative as scholarly literature that is "free availability on the public internet, permitting any users to read, download, copy, distribute, print, search, or link to the full texts of these articles, crawl them for indexing, pass them as data to software, or use them for any other lawful purpose, without financial, legal, or technical barriers other than those inseparable from gaining access to the internet itself." When creators wish to provide open access to their works, they may choose to publish their works in open access journals or similar open access publishing systems where terms of use specify certain uses of the works that are available to the public without the need to ask for permission.  Alternatively, creators may license their works using a Creative Commons license that specifies certain uses of their works that do not require the copyright owner's permission.

  • Creative Commons is a nonprofit organization that provides free copyright licenses and tools to facilitate the development of a universal digital commons.  Licensing a work under a Creative Commons license generally means the work is freely available for use, subject to certain limited conditions, such as noncommercial use and acknowledgment of the creator.  Visit Creative Commons Canada to access Creative Commons licenses available in Canada.
  • Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) is a multidisciplinary directory of peer-reviewed freely accessible scholarly journals.  Although all DOAJ titles are integrated into the University Library's Journal Title index, you can browse the DOAJ by subject to find relevant open access journals in your discipline.
  • International Music Score Library Project is a collection of more than 111,000 musical scores in the public domain.
  • MERLOT (Multimedia Educational Resources for Learning and Online Teaching) is a collection of peer-reviewed open access educational resources for higher education.
  • MIT OpenCourseWare is a Web-based publication of almost all MIT undergraduate and graduate course materials that support MIT courses.  The free online course material is available for noncommercial educational use and reuse subject to attribution and share-alike requirements.
  • Open Educational Resources Commons is a database of open educational resources made freely available to the public with few limited restrictions on use.  Of the 30,000 resources currently accessible through the database, over 18,000 are at a post-secondary level.
  • OpenLearn is an initiative of the United Kingdom-based Open University which provides distance delivery of higher education programs.  OpenLearn provides free access to and use of learning materials under a noncommercial, share-alike Creative Commons license.
  • Open Textbook Catalog is a catalogue of openly licensed university-level textbooks compiled by the University of Minnesota's College of Education and Human Development. In addition to open licensing, included textbooks are similar to currently available traditional textbooks regarding completeness, are suitable for adoption outside textbook authors' institutions, and have a printed option.
  • Project Gutenberg is an online collection of over 40,000 literary works in the public domain in the United States.  One sister project, Project Gutenberg Canada, provides online access to books in the Canadian public domain.
  • SHERPA/RoMEO is a database (RoMEO) of publishers' policies on Web-based self-archiving of journal articles and in open access repositories provided by SHERPA, a consortium of research-intensive organizations in the United Kingdom that focuses on facilitating open access to research.  You can browse or search the database to determine which academic publishers have the strongest policies in support of open access to research published in the journal literature.

For other online works, a recommended best practice is to look for a Terms of Use or Legal Notices section in which use permissions or conditions may be specified.

Can students include copyright materials in course assignments?

Generally, yes. The fair dealing exception provides certain limited rights for individuals to use copyright works for research, private study, criticism,  review, news reporting, education, parody or satire.  Student use of a work is likely to be deemed fair as long as it qualifies, on balance, as fair dealing according to the fair dealing factors suggested by the Supreme Court of Canada, and students acknowledge the source and the name of the creator if the purpose is criticism, review, or news reporting.

Can a work be modified to aid a student with perceptual disabilities?

Yes, section 32 of the exceptions to copyright infringement for persons with perceptual disabilities in the Copyright Act permits a person with a perceptual disability, or an individual or non-profit organization acting for the benefit of such a person, to make a copy or sound recording of a literary, musical, artistic, or dramatic work in a format specially designed for use by a person with a perceptual disability as long as the format is not a large print book.  This exception to copyright infringement applies only when the work is not commercially available in an appropriate format, and does not apply to cinematographic works.