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Copyright at Bishop's University: Remote Instruction

A guide for faculty, staff, and students

Copyright and Remote Instruction

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 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 and you are using a password-protected learning management system like Moodle.
  3. You can continue to apply the directions in the Copyright at Bishop's University guide.


Recording video of yourself, live-casting lectures, etc.

Slide Images

If it was legal to show slide images in class, it is likely legal to show them to students via live video conferencing or in recorded videos. As long as your new course video is being shared through a password-protected course website (like Moodle) limited to the same enrolled students, the legal issues are fairly similar.

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 Copyright at Bishop's University guide 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 DVDs or CDs, for example) during an in-person class session is 100% permitted under Section 29.5 of the Copyright Act. However, that exemption doesn't necessarily 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 under the copyright provision called fair dealing. At Bishop’s University we follow fair dealing guidelines that allow you to use up to 10% of a copyrighted work to be distributed to students enrolled 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.


Course readings and other resources

The Bishop's Library can help with getting things online - linking to the Library’s licensed resources, finding ebooks where available, and much more.

If you want to share additional materials with students or if you want students to share more resources with each other in an online discussion board, please keep in mind the guidelines below:


It's always easiest to link!

Linking to publicly available online content like news websites, existing online videos, etc. is rarely a copyright issue (it is better not to link to existing content that looks like it is obviously infringing copyright. For example a private individual’s YouTube video of the entire "Black Panther" movie is probably not a good thing to link to. However, someone's 2-minute video discussing a few of the pivotal scenes from the movie may be fair dealing, and is not something you should worry about linking to).

Linking to subscription content through the Bishop's Library is also a great option. Much of the library's licensed content will have DOIs, PURLs, or other "permalink" or "persistent link" options, all of which should work even for off-campus users. Consult the Library's Persistent Links guide, or contact the Library directly for assistance.


Sharing copies and scanning

Making copies of new materials for students (by downloading and uploading files, or by scanning from physical documents) can present some copyright issues, but they're not different from those involved in deciding whether to share something online with your students when you are meeting in-person. It's better not to make copies of entire works - but most instructors wouldn't do that. Copying portions of works to share with students may be fair dealing, depending on the six fair dealing factors.

At Bishop's, faculty and instructors are encouraged to read and apply the Copibec and fair dealing guidelines when they are making decisions about when they think they can make copies for students. 

Fair dealing is an exception in the Copyright Act that allows you to share and use copyright-protected works for educational purposes. Moving from in-person classrooms to online ones offers an opportunity to make use of fair dealing to provide students access to educational materials. 

You are allowed to post short excerpts of copyright-protected works to Moodle. A short excerpt means:

  • up to 10% of a copyright-protected work (including a literary work, musical score, sound recording, and an audiovisual work)
  • one chapter from a book
  • a single article from a periodical
  • an entire artistic work (including a painting, print, photograph, diagram, drawing, map, chart, and plan) from a copyright-protected work containing other artistic works
  • an entire newspaper article or page
  • an entire single poem or musical score from a copyright-protected work containing other poems or musical scores
  • an entire entry from an encyclopedia, annotated bibliography, dictionary or similar reference work

Basically, you want to avoid posting a substantial part of a work. 

If you want to post a chapter or up to 10% of a course textbook, fair dealing will definitely allow you to do so. Fair dealing looks at each individual item, rather than aggregate use, so fair dealing will allow you to use 10% of a course textbook, a journal article, and a poem from an anthology for your students.

There are other exceptions in the Copyright Act that allow you to display and perform copyright-protected works in the classroom. The Library is available to help faculty understand the relevant issues. If you need to make more copyrighted material available to students than fair dealing allows the Library can assist you in making these determinations.

Remember that the Bishop's Library has a large collection of online journals and ebooks that support online learning. Your Librarians can also help!

An alternative way to find course materials is to use free online teaching resources. Please cite your sources.


Multimedia viewing/listening

Sharing audiovisual material like films and audio files is more complex. But remember you can still link to legally posted online content (from YouTube, etc.). The Library has licensed audiovisual materials that you may link to (e.g., NFB Campus, Theatre in Video). Please consult the Library's Public Performance Rights page for more details.

Standard commercial streaming options like Netflix, Crave, or Disney Plus that students may also subscribe to can be an option – though some students may not have access to those services.


Ownership of online course resources

As per section 14.00 Copyrights/Intellectual Property of the Faculty Collective Agreement, Bishop's University faculty members own the copyright of their academic works, including instructional content. Please refer to the Collective Agreement for Faculty for more details.

University policies also affirm that students own the copyright in their own coursework.


logo for the CC-By-NC license This resource has been adapted for Bishop's University from material prepared by the Copyright Office, University of Minnesota document Copyright Services, Rapidly shifting your course from in-person to online. All content on this page is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial License. We would like to acknowledge some contribution of adaptation language from University of Toronto document Shifting your instruction from in-person to remote: Copyright considerations.

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