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Copyright Guide for Faculty and Staff

Use of Copyright Materials

Reproducing a work for classroom use can include photocopying, scanning, downloading, or uploading the material. To make a copy of materials they need to be:

  • licensed to the University or the Instructor through a subscription or transactional license
  • permitted for use by the copyright owner
  • permitted for use by a Creative Commons license
  • permitted for use by being Open Access (OA) or an Open Educational Resource (OER)
  • meet the requirements for one of the educational exceptions in the Copyright Act (such as Fair Dealing)
  • in the Public Domain

Materials should be reviewed each semester for copyright compliance. If you are unsure about the permitted use of any material please contact the for clarification.

Learning Management Systems (ie: Brightspace)

Sharing Course Materials in Brightspace

When using electronic content, the best practice is to use links to provide students with access to their readings. Most licensed materials such as e-books and electronic journal articles can be linked to from our databases, although there can be exceptions (ie Harvard Business Review). Open Access, Creative Commons materials, and open web sources can also be linked to. In some cases, a PDF may be uploaded to Brightspace if the terms of use and copyright exceptions permit it.

To post content that is protected by copyright in the Learning Management system, the work must:

Don't forget to always cite your sources and make the content inaccessible to your students once the course is finished!

The Copyright Office can help determine the best way to share materials and will create stable links to digital content for you. If you are in doubt about uploading an item, please check with

Using the Library's Electronic Resources

The Patrick Power Library, individually and through consortia, signs licensing agreements with publishers and vendors for access to electronic resources such as e-books, e-journals and databases. These agreements control the use of the resources and material accessed through them. "Terms of Use" can be found on each database site, as well as in the library catalog display below each title (see below for further details). Permissions vary by title and publisher. Linking in Brightspace to a licensed article or e-book is always a good option to explore, and may be permitted, even when posting copies of the content is not an option. Any questions about the use that can be made of electronic content should be referred to

Copyright Obligations:

License restrictions on the use of e-books and e-journal articles are in addition to the regular copyright restrictions which must be observed. Canadian copyright protections do not permit the copying of complete books or complete journal volumes. Individual articles and small portions of books may be copied for individual study and research. Faculty copying class sets or making electronic copies for classroom use should seek guidance from to ensure that they are complying with copyright obligations.

eBooks, Articles, and Websites


E-books may be displayed and read on the computer screen. E-book software restricts printing or downloading of E-book materials to a small portion of the complete e-book. We are licensed to display e-books to class groups for teaching and study purposes. Some copying may be permitting depending on license restrictions. In some cases e-books may also be downloaded to a portable e-book reader for a specified period of time. However, such e-books still may carry some restrictions.

Using any means to print or download more than allowed small portions of e-books is not permitted. Sequential or systematic downloading of small portions in order to download complete works is not permitted.

E-book and E-journal publishers monitor all use of their licensed content by internet address. They will discontinue campus access if they see evidence of downloading of complete works. The University is obliged to take action to prevent unauthorized copying or downloading of e-books.

Electronic journal articles:

Databases permit the printing of individual journal articles for teaching, study and research. In many cases, journal articles from licensed databases may be copied and distributed for classroom use. However, the systematic downloading or copying of sets of journal articles is a license violation and is not permitted. Electronic journal articles can also be linked to in Brightspace.

Linking is another great option for providing access to journal articles, and the majority of our licenses permit linking (there are exceptions - such as Harvard Business Review). Most databases will provide a "stable" or "permalink" option that allows off campus users to access our resources. The Copyright Office can supply these links for you, or you can create your own stable URL.

Creating a Stable URL for Off Campus Access

1. Find the permalink in the record displayed in the database (Ex:

2. Then paste this code in front of the permalink. It should look something like this:


3. Provide this full ink to students attempting to access electronic materials from off-campus.

3. If you have any problems creating or accessing a link, please contact us at for further assistance.


There are a number of internet resources that are useful for teaching, and many of these can be used in an online environment if the terms of use or a copyright exception permit it. Linking is also an excellent way to use online content with fewer copyright implications.

Keep in mind that freely accessible does not always mean free to use! Online material is also protected by copyright, so always check the usage terms before reproducing or linking to materials. These terms of use generally take precedence over a copyright exception and should always be respected.

You can usually find this information under the Terms and Conditions, Terms of Use, or Copyright link at the bottom of a page. If you have questions about what the terms permit, please contact us at

Use of Images, Graphs, Charts, and Figures

Images, graphs, and charts are all protected by copyright. Some educational exceptions may allow you to use them in your presentations, papers, and teaching, or you can seek permission from the copyright holder. If you are using a required textbook for the class, there may also be supplementary materials you can use without needing permission.

Many websites and textbooks license the images they use, and do not own the copyright themselves. For example, if you want to reproduce an article that uses a licensed image, you may need separate permission from the photographer. Always look at the credit lines, bibliography, or reference list to make sure you know who owns the copyright to the work you want to reproduce.

Best practices for using this kind of content includes:

  • Choose images that are in the public domain or licensed for re-use (such as Creative Commons images).
  • If using an exception, make sure the material contributes to the educational or research nature of your work.
  • Do not use content that you believe is infringing or has been posted without the knowledge of the copyright owner.
  • Always provide citations giving title, creator, and source. You can also use a credit slide at the end of a presentation. 

Please contact if you have any questions or would like more guidance on working with these materials.

Films, Streaming Media, and Music

Viewing Films in Class

Canadian Copyright law allows educational institutions to display a film in the classroom. The viewing must be for purely educational purposes on campus, for members of the University, and the film must be a legitimately purchased copy (whether in hand or streaming). Copies of full works may not be made without permission from the copyright owner.

These developments do not apply to screenings for other purposes such as fund-raisers on campus. In some instances the university purchases materials with public performance rights, or we can help obtain permission to use the film. If you would like to display a film for a purpose outside of the classroom setting, please contact for further assistance. In your email please indicate what film you would like to display, and for what purposes.

**Please note that films from some sources may not permitted for classroom use. Always check the terms of use for the service or site where you found the content. If you are unsure of the permissions of the film you would like to display please contact the

Streaming Media and Classroom Use

Personal streaming services (like Netflix) and/or films under a digital lock are generally not permitted to be broadcast in the classroom environment. There may be some exceptions, such as a limited number of documentaries on Netflix made available under a special education license. Please check with the Copyright Office if you are unsure of what is permitted.

The library subscribes to a number of streaming film resources that can be used for teaching and learning purposes. Links to these films can also be shared in Brightspace or incorporated into learning materials.

If the film you want to show is not available in our SMU databases (see below), please contact us at to discuss your options.


The Copyright Act permits music to be played in a classroom environment as long as it is for educational/training purposes, it is from a legal copy, and there are no digital locks or protection measures being circumvented.

You cannot upload or make copies of copyright protected music for teaching or distribution purposes without permission from the copyright holder. Short excerpts may be made under the Fair Dealing guidelines, as long as no digital locks are circumvented.

Many streaming services (such as Spotify and iTunes) are made for personal use, and as such have additional restrictions found in their Terms and Conditions that would prohibit public or classroom use. These conditions must be respected in addition to copyright considerations.

Print Materials

Course Packs

Please note that we are not producing course packs at this time. If you have content from a course pack that you would like to use for teaching purposes, please contact us at to discuss your options. 

A course pack is a printed collection of journal, magazine or newspaper articles, book excerpts and other specific materials selected by a course instructor for distribution to students as required or supplemental reading.

Material included in course packs must meet one of the following criteria:

  • Be licensed to the University or the Instructor through a subscription or transactional license
  • Be permitted for use by the copyright owner
  • Be permitted for use by a Creative Commons license
  • Be permitted for use by being Open Access (OA) or an Open Educational Resource (OER)
  • Meet the requirements for one of the educational exceptions in the Copyright Act (such as Fair Dealing)
  • Be in the Public Domain

The Copyright Office evaluates course pack requests each semester for copyright compliance. If you have any questions about materials you may want to use in your course pack, please contact the Copyright Office.


The Library operates a Reserve Collection that provides faculty-supplied course textbooks or library owned books for short-term loans. This allows students better access to limited materials and is ideal when there are multiple readings needed from one text.

Please note that class assignments, exercises, solutions, lecture notes, test answers, and copies of articles or book chapters are not accepted for the Reserve Collection. You can find more information Reserves on the Faculty Information Guide.

Text Books

The Campus Store offers both digital and print textbook options, and may be able to order physical texts for your students to purchase. Orders can be placed using their online form. Questions about ordering should be directed to

Suggested Language for Syllabi & Brightspace

Below is suggested language to acknowledge that your content is in line with Canadian Copyright as well as acknowledging that your created content cannot be shared without your consent.

Copyright Statement 

The materials provided to you in this course are subject to Canadian copyright law. Further reproduction, dissemination, downloading, or sharing may not be allowed unless permitted by an exception in the Copyright Act or with permission from the copyright holder.

Your instructor owns the rights to the content they create, and it is intended for your personal use in this class. Posting this content on external sites or sharing it with people outside of your class without permission may be an infringement of copyright.

Third party copyrighted materials have been licensed for use for this class or are covered under an exception in the Canadian Copyright Act. Any further use is subject to the terms of the Act unless you have permission from the copyright holder. Learn more about copyright and your rights at:   


Please note: This guide does not provide legal advice. It is intended to give guidance about acceptable use of copyright protected materials.