While our building is closed, we can support you online. Learn about library services during COVID-19.


Copyright for your online course

This content has been adapted from a guide by the Canadian Association of Research Libraries (CARL), Ryerson University Library, University of Toronto Scholarly Communications & Copyright Office, and the University of Minnesota Copyright Office. Unless otherwise noted, all content is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial License.

For information about copyright and how it applies to the provision of online courses, contact the University’s Copyright Officer, Heather Martin at fairdealing@uoguelph.ca (email address).

Canada’s Copyright Act contains several exceptions that facilitate the use of copyright-protected works for educational purposes. Here are some key points to keep in mind:

  • Permitted uses of copyrighted works are generally the same whether teaching is done in person or online. 
  • Copies that were okay to provide to students in a classroom setting are also okay to post for students to access online, especially when online access is limited to the same enrolled students, for example, on CourseLink. 
  • You can continue to use the Fair Dealing Policy for Universities (PDF file) and the Copyright Guide for Instructors (PDF file) to guide your copying, dissemination, and communication of copyrighted material to students.
  • Use your university password protected CourseLink site to make material available to your students.
  • All content posted in Ares can be integrated directly into CourseLink.

Lecture slides

  • Post your in-class slides to CourseLink. Slides provided by textbook publishers can almost always be used, according to the publisher’s terms of use.  
  • Content that you have created for which you are the copyright owner can always be shared. 
  • If you incorporate any third-party materials into your lessons, they should keep within the Fair dealing Policy for Universities (PDF file), or with other license agreements associated with that content.

Course readings 

When providing course readings and other copyrighted materials to students, best practices with respect to copying are similar for both print and online materials. You have several options:

  • Use the Fair Dealing Policy for Universities (PDF file) to guide your own copying. 
  • Link to library licensed electronic resources, or link to free available content on the Internet. A large collection of online content is available via Omni, the library’s academic search tool. 
  • Submit your requests to the Ares Course Reserve system to ensure that the content meets both copyright and accessibility requirements.
  • Chat with our open educational resources librarian who can assist you in finding openly licensed teaching materials.
  • Use apps like Genius Scan or Adobe Scan to scan materials to post on CourseLink, within the limits outlined in the Fair Dealing Policy for Universities (PDF file)
  • Scanned PDF files can be made accessible by using an optical character recognition (OCR) tool to convert “non-selectable” text files into more accessible versions. 
  • Access to electronic versions of some textbooks are being made available to students via the VitalSource platform. Students who sign up can access up to seven textbooks until April 30, 2020 for free.

Audiovisual materials

  • Sharing audiovisual materials like films and audio files is more complex in terms of copyright.
  • You can link directly to legally posted online content (from YouTube, etc.), or link to content found in the library’s streaming media collections
  • Standard commercial streaming options like Netflix, Crave, or Disney Plus may also be an option for students who subscribe to them, although not all students may have access to these services. 

Tests and exams

  • Copyrighted material can be used in test and exams according to the Fair Dealing Policy for Universities (PDF file)
  • Other educational copyright exceptions may permit uses that fall outside of the fair dealing guidelines. Contact the University’s Copyright Officer for assistance if you have specific questions.

Copyright resources for U of G faculty, staff, and students

All universities and libraries in Canada are required to comply with Canadian copyright law, and with the international copyright conventions to which Canada is signatory. In practical terms, this means that any copying of materials by University faculty, staff or students, regardless of format, is subject to certain limits and restrictions.

The use of copyrighted works at the University of Guelph is enabled by:

  • The terms of the Canadian Copyright Act, which contains a fair dealing exception as well as numerous educational exceptions
  • Licensing agreements with the publishers of e-journals and e-books
  • Permissions secured from authors, publishers, and other copyright owners as required

It is an infringement of copyright to copy all or any substantial part of a copyright-protected work without the permission of the copyright owner, unless copying or communicating the work falls within one of the exemptions in the Copyright Act, or is permitted by the terms of a licensing agreement.

  • Copyright Frequently Asked Questions
  • Copyright Guidelines is a general guide to copyright as it pertains to collections and services at the University of Guelph Library
  • Copyright Guide for Instructors (PDF - 150kb) is a guide to making copies for instructional purposes, based on the Fair Dealing Policy for Universities, and other relevant exceptions in the Copyright Act
  • University of Guelph Copyright Poster (PDF - 318kb) is intended to be displayed at the university's photocopiers, scanners and printing equipment, in order to provide general guidance on the application of copyright law and the University's Fair Dealing Policy to copies made by faculty, staff, students and other members of the University community. Copies may be downloaded and posted at any University copying or scanning location.
  • Copyright for Students at the University of Guelph Library: an introductory video explains what copyright is, and what students need to know about it, as well as providing contact information for students needing assistance with copyright issues

The library offers support and consultations in the areas of author rights, copyright, and publishing.

University of Guelph Fair Dealing Policy

The fair dealing exemption in the Copyright Act provides that fair dealing with a copyright-protected work does not infringe copyright when done for one of the following eight purposes:

  • Research
  • Private study
  • Criticism
  • Review
  • News reporting
  • Education
  • Satire
  • Parody

To fall within the fair dealing exemption, your copying or communicating of a work, must be for one of the eight purposes and also must be fair, according to six factors set out by the Supreme Court of Canada.

The Fair Dealing Policy for Universities, and other related documents below, provide guidance on how the fair dealing exemption might apply in a university environment.

  • What you Need to Know About Copyright and Fair Dealing (PDF - 300kb)
  • Fair Dealing Policy for Universities (PDF – 20kb) - This Fair Dealing Policy was developed and approved by the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada. It provides guidance on making copies of copyright-protected works in accordance with the fair dealing exception in the Copyright Act and relevant Supreme Court decisions
  • Fair Dealing Application Guides - These documents address the application of the Fair Dealing Policy for Universities to various types of university copying, including copying for use in course packs and Learning Management Systems (e.g. CourseLink), as well as for teaching, research, and administrative purposes
  • Fair Dealing Tool - Try using this tool to guide you when assessing whether the fair dealing exception might apply to your copying

Other copyright resources

Fair Dealing application guides

The Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada (AUCC) has developed a series of application documents to assist universities with applying the Fair Dealing Policy for Universities to various types of university copying, including copying for use in course packs and Learning Management Systems (e.g. CourseLink), as well as for teaching, research, and administrative purposes.

Get assistance

Contact the University’s Copyright Officer, Heather Martin, at fairdealing@uoguelph.ca (email address).

Upcoming workshops