Copyright for Students

As a student you are a user and an owner of copyright protected works. As users, students have rights and responsibilities when using copyright protected works as part of the learning process. Students are also creators and own the copyright in the works that they write and create such as research papers, posters, or multimedia projects.

Using Copyright protected material in your assignments

What is copyright protected material?

Copyright is the legal protection for works such as books, articles, movies, or images. In Canada, copyright law protects a work for 70 years after the creator's death. Copyright protection means that only the creator of the work has the legal right to copy, publish, perform, or communicate the work. Copyright protected material are works in which the copyright has not expired. For many works copyrigth has expired. These works are in the public domain. For example, works created by William Shakespeare are not protected by copyright because Shakespeare died in 1616, which is more than 70 years ago. But the works of any writer or creator that is living or recently deceased are protected by copyright.

Can I add images or videos that I found on the Internet to my class presentation?

You can add images, Youtube videos, or other works found online to your Google slides or Powerpoint presentation for your class assignment. Fair dealing allows for the use of copyright protected works found on the Internet for education purposes. Furthermore, the Internet Exception of the Copyright Act allows for the reproduction, performance, or communication (such as posting to mêskanâs or presenting in class) of a work provided you cite the source including the name of the creator, if known. The Internet exception applies to freely available content on the Internet that is not restricted.

Can I mash up images, videos, and audio to create a new multimedia work as part of my assignment?

Yes, fair dealing allow for the use of copyrighted works to be used in your assignments. Furthermore, the Non-Commercial User-Generated Content exception of the Copyright Act, also allows you to post your multimedia assignments to websites such as YouTube or Vimeo. This exception applies provided you cite the source, if known and it is reasonable to do so. Also, the newly created work must not have a substantial adverse effect on the existing works used to create it.

Can I record a lecture to review later as part of my studying?

Under copyright law, the instructor or any student presenting in your class owns the copyright in the “performance” that is the lecture or the presentation. Any copy, live stream, or broadcast of the lecture would belong to the instructor or the student presenting. You should ask permission to record a lecture before doing so.

Can I share my class notes?

The notes that you take in class belong to you providing that the notes are in your own words and not a verbatim record of what your professor said. However, any diagrams or images that your professor may have drawn on the board as part of the lecture belong to the professor because the professor is the creator of the diagram or drawing. You can share your notes with friends or post online to share with a wider audience, as long as the class notes are in your own words.

Can I share my professor's Powerpoint or class handouts?

Your professor owns the copyright in any material that they create including Powerpoint presentations, class handouts, course outlines, quizzes, or exams. You cannot share or post full copies of these works to course sharing sites such as Chegg or Course Hero. Under fair dealing you can post or share short excerpts of an instructor's work to a non-commercial site for the purposes of review, criticism, education, or news reporting. Furthermore, you need to provide a citation of the materials that you post. Best practice is that you ask your professor for permission to share any materials outside of class.

Can I share my portfolio online or with potential employers?

You likely want to share your portfolio when looking for a job. As the creator of the works in your portfolio, you are the copyright owner and can share and post your own work as you wish.

However, be mindful that some of your works may include parts of other copyrighted works. In these instances, the works in your portfolio can be used to showcase yourself under the non-commercial user-generated content provision of the Copyright Act as long as you cite the source, if known and it is reasonable to do so; and as long as the newly created work does not have a substantial adverse effect on the existing works. If you have questions, contact the Library's copyright services,