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How copyright affects teaching materials and student work

What can I include in PowerPoint presentations?

Under the educational exemption, you can make copies of works to display in-class on the premises of an educational institution for educational purposes. However, this exception only applies if there is no commercially available version of the work. Therefore, you may only include works in a PowerPoint presentation if you have either obtained permission from the copyright owner or there is no digital version of the work available, in which case you may scan the work and include it yourself.


If you want to include works in a PowerPoint presentation outside of the University, for instance, to a community forum, you may only do so if you fall within the fair dealing exception.

What can I include in class notes and course packs?

In general, permission must be obtained in order to make copies to include in class notes or course packs.  Contact the Bookstore, or the Centre for Open Learning and Educational Support (DE Courses only) for more information about course pack production.  Also, some of the Library's electronic journal and e-book content can be included in class notes or course packs, depending on the terms of the university's license with individual publishers.  For more information, consult the Library's Copyright Guide for Instructors.

Can I play videos in class?

It depends. There is an exception that allows you to play news or current event programs to students in class as long as you do so within a year of the program being aired. However, documentaries and films are not covered by this exception. Instead, the University has a licence with copyright collectives that allows instructors to show these documentaries and films in class, provided records are kept and fees are paid. If you want to show a documentary or film in class, you should contact the Library for more information.

Can I play music in class?

You may play a sound recording or live radio broadcasts in class as long as it is for educational purposes, not for profit, on University premises, before an audience consisting primarily of students and instructors. If you want to use music for non-educational purposes, for example, for a school dance or as background music, a licence must be obtained from the copyright collective, SOCAN.

Are there special rules for online classrooms?

Yes. The educational exception only applies to use of materials on university premises. Unfortunately, it does not extend to on-line classrooms.  Accordingly, unless you fall within the fair dealing exception, you will need to obtain the copyright owner’s consent to include other people’s material in an online classroom.  For more information, consult the Library's Copyright Guide for Instructors.

How does copyright work with distance learning?

There are special considerations for distance learning and the Copyright Act is due to be amended to introduce new provisions for electronic delivery of material to students. However, at the moment, these amendments have not yet occurred. If you have specific questions, contact the Centre for Open Learning and Educational Support (COLES) for more information.

What if the online classroom is password protected?

Even password-protected websites can be considered public communication. Where a communication is to a targeted group of individuals, or a specific segment of the public, courts have held that this is a public communication of a work, and is therefore only permissible with the copyright owner’s consent, or if it falls within one of the Act’s exceptions.

Do students have copyright in their work at Guelph?

Generally, students will own the copyright in work they produce as part of their academic program, but the University may reserve the right to access the work. For more information, contact the Catalyst Centre.