Webinar Recording – Copyright for Online Teaching at USask (May 26, 2021)

Pedagogical and technical issues may make the shift from in-person to online teaching a challenge but copyright concerns should not be a significant barrier!

Key points to remember:

  1. Most of the legal issues are the same in both online (that is, in a password-protected learning management system (LMS)) and in-person university teaching.
  2. If it was okay to do in class, it is often okay to do online; especially when your online access is limited to the same enrolled students (for example via a learning management system).
  3. You can continue to apply the University of Saskatchewan (USask) Fair Dealing Guidelines.

Slide images

Just as it is legal to show slides with images in class, it is generally legal to show them to students using live video conferencing or recorded videos, as long as your new course video is being shared through a password-protected course website like Canvas, Moodle or One45.

Many instructors routinely post a copy of their slides as a file for students to access after in-person course meetings. In most cases, faculty will own the copyright in or have license to use their slides. However, if you are incorporating third-party materials into your lessons, they should be in keeping with the USask copyright guidelines or other license agreements associated with the content.

In-lecture use of audio or video

Here, the differences between online and in-person teaching can be a bit more complex. Playing audio or video of legally-obtained physical media (music or audio visual materials like digital video discs (DVDs) or compact discs (CDs) for example) during an in-person class session is permitted under section 29.5 of the Copyright Act. However, that exemption generally doesn't cover playing the same media online.

If you can limit audio and video use for your course to relatively brief clips, you may be able to include those in lecture recordings or live-casts using your institution's Fair Dealing Guidelines in the Copyright Act. At the University of Saskatchewan we have the USask Fair Dealing Guidelines that allows you to use up to 10% of a copyrighted work to be distributed to students in your class only. For media use longer than brief clips, you may need to have students independently access the content outside of your lecture videos. Some further options are outlined below.

Where to post your videos

There may be some practical differences in outcomes depending on where you post new course videos. Panapto provides storage and streaming of videos and can be restricted to the students in your class only. You can also post videos within Canvas. If you use services like YouTube to post your own educational videos, remember to continue to be copyright compliant. Please note that it is more likely that videos posted on YouTube may encounter some automated copyright enforcement, such as a takedown notice, or disabling of included audio or video content. These automated enforcement tools are often incorrect when they flag audio, video, or images included in instructional videos. If you encounter something like this that you believe to be in error, you can contact copyright.help@usask.ca for assistance.

Course readings and other resources

Hopefully, by mid-semester, your students have already gotten access to most assigned reading materials. As always, the University Library can help with getting things online - linking to libraries’ licensed resources, finding ebooks where available, and much more.

If you want to share additional materials with students yourself as you revise instructional plans, or if you want students to share more resources with each other in an online discussion board, please keep in mind the guidelines below.

Sharing copies and scanning

At USask, faculty and instructors are encouraged to read and apply the USask Fair Dealing Guidelines when they are making decisions about when they think they can make copies for students to post to in an LMS. Library staff members are available to help faculty understand the relevant issues (find your Subject/Liaison Librarian for more help.)

Some app tools that you can use to easily digitize fair dealing amounts of material from your phone to post to Canvas or One45 are Genius Scan or Adobe Scan. Please keep in mind that you can make any scanned PDF files more accessible for your students by using an online optical character recognition (OCR) online tool that can be used to convert "non-selectable" text files into machine-readable or recognized text.

If you need to make more copyrighted material available to students than the USask Fair Dealing Guidelines allow, we can help you acquire copyright permission or a license to provide the material to students. Please note the following about copyright permissions/licenses:

  1. Copyright holders are under no obligation to provide permission or a license.
  2. Copyright holders of written works often will not provide permission for the distribution of over 25% of a work.
  3. It can take several weeks to obtain copyright permission or a licence, so it may not be possible to acquire permission on a short timeline. Generally, the earlier a copyright permission request can be made, the better. 

An alternative way to find course materials is to look for open educational resources (OERs), which need to be cited when used but are free of most copyright restrictions. The Gwenna Moss Centre for Teaching and Learning can help you with finding OERs. 

You can also search the University Library which has a large collection of journals and many ebooks that can support on-line learning. In fact, many content providers have recently increased access to a variety of materials to ensure broader access by campuses. For assistance with this, please contact the Subject/Liaison Librarian for your discipline. 

Multimedia viewing/listening

Showing an entire movie or film or musical work online does represent more of a copyright issue than playing it in class – but there may be options for your students to access it independently online. USask already has quite a bit of licensed streaming video content via film and video databases, which you are welcome to use in your online course. Remember that you can link to this content!

We may be able to purchase streaming access for additional media but, as this takes time, standard commercial streaming options like commonly subscribed to services like Netflix that students may also subscribe to and can access using their own accounts may sometimes be the easiest option – though some students may not have access to those services. (For exclusive content, the commercial services may be the only option.)

What can you do if you have a scheduled screening for a film that is not available online?

If you have a scheduled film screening and the film is not available digitally through one of our electronic databases, you may be able to conduct a virtual screening using the distance education exception in the Copyright Act (section 30.01). This exception is not widely used as it includes a variety of requirements, such as:

  • You must not break a technical protection measure (TPM) (section 41.1) when you make the copy. The easiest way to make a copy without breaking a TPM is to use screen capture software that enables the copying of DVD content after the content has been lawfully decrypted by a licensed computer DVD player.
  • You must delete the copy in the LMS, or password protected location you posted the audiovisual material, within 30 days after course evaluations have been issued. To minimize copyright risk, we recommend making the stream available for the shortest possible time 
  • You must post a notice for the students that the copy is being made using this exception. For example: “You are receiving access to this teaching resource under section 30.01 of the Copyright Act, for use in this class only. Under this section of the Copyright Act, you are not permitted to keep a copy of this content after the course has finished.”

One way to meet the requirements of this section may be to live-stream the screening (accessible only to your students).  If you do make a recording, please contact the Copyright Office to ensure that you meet the requirements above.

Students' rights and use of course material

It is important to recognize that students own the copyright in their own coursework. You may require students to submit it in particular formats, but the students continue to own their works unless a separate agreement is signed by the student.

Additionally, students should be aware that posting course content to website like OneClass or Course Hero can raise academic integrity issues. Language has been added to the USask course syllabus template that makes it clear that students cannot reuse or re-post their instructor’s course materials without permission. For more information, please see this webpage for students on appropriate use of course materials.

Please consult the USask copyright website website or contact copyright.help@usask.ca or 306-966-8817 if you have any questions.

CC BY-NC 3.0 Licence

This resource has been adapted for Canadian universities by the Canadian Association of Research Libraries from material prepared by the Copyright Office, University of Minnesota document Copyright Services, Rapidly shifting your course from in-person to online. Unless otherwise noted, all content is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial License. We would like to acknowledge some contribution of adaptation language from University of Toronto Scholarly Communications Copyright Office and Toronto Metropolitan University Library (formally, Ryerson University Library). Additional modifications were made by the USask Copyright Office. 

Getting help

If you have any questions or concerns about copyright, please let us know!

Copyright Coordinator
122.13 Murray Library