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Copyright: COVID-19: Best Copyright Practices for an Online Classroom

This is a guide to understanding your rights and responsibilities, in relation to copyright, as a member of the Loyalist College community.

Library Technician

Vanessa Lee's picture
Vanessa Lee
Currently working remotely

Streaming Video Databases

Additional Resources


Many vendors have temporarily extended access to their collection Please check them out, COVID-19 ADD-ONS

For more information on open licensed content, check out Open Educational Resources (OERs).


Key Points to Remember

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!

Here are some things to remember:

1. Most of the legal issues are the same in both contexts (via Blackboard)

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.

3. You can continue to apply the Fair Dealing policy.

Serving Student Access Needs As We Rapidly Shift to Online Courses: Copyright Considerations

Textual Materials

(Books & Articles)

Making copies of new materials for students such as downloading and uploading files, or by scanning from physical documents can present some copyright issues. Still they are not any different from those involved in deciding whether to share something online with your students when you are meeting them in-person.

At Loyalist College, faculty and instructors are encouraged to read and apply the Fair Dealing policy when they are making decisions about when they think they can make copies for students to post in Blackboard.  

Under Fair Dealing, you can copy ‘short excerpts’. Here are some examples:

a. up to 10 per cent of a copyright-protected work (including a literary work, musical score, sound recording, and an audiovisual work);

b. one chapter from a book;

c. a single article from a periodical;

d. an entire artistic work (including a painting, print, photograph, diagram, drawing, map, chart, and plan) from a copyright-protected work containing other artistic works;

e. an entire newspaper article or page;

f. an entire single poem or musical score from a copyright-protected work containing other poems or musical scores;

g. an entire entry from an encyclopedia, annotated bibliography, dictionary, or similar reference work.


You can also check out the  Fair Dealing Decision Tool for more examples.


If you are copying more than the Fair Dealing guidelines, please contact the Copyright Technician for further assistance.

Some apps tools that you can use to quickly digitize fair dealing amounts of material from your phone to post to Blackboard are Genius Scan or Adobe Scan

Remember it’s important to limit your course materials only to your students by posting them in Blackboard.


Another way of sharing class material is by linking. The library has thousands of licensed e-resources to support online learning. Many of the library’s content providers have recently opened their collection for a limited time.

Course Reserves

For items on course reserves, please contact the Copyright Technician to get them online or an online alternative. 

Slide and Images

Just as it is legal to show slides with images in class, it is generally permitted 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 Blackboard.

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

Audio and Video

The differences between online and in-person teaching can be a bit more complicated for playing audio or video of legally obtained physical media such as DVDs or CDs during an in-person class session. 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 our Fair Dealing guidelines in the Copyright Act. At Loyalist College we have the Fair Dealing policy 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 your lecture videos. Some further options are outlined below.

Posting your videos

You can post videos within Blackboard. If you already use like YouTube to teach 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 contained in instruction videos. If you encounter something like this that you believe to be in error, you can Copyright Technician for further assistance.


Linking to publicly available online content like news websites, existing online videos, etc. is rarely a copyright issue.  Please don’t link to infringing materials, by checking the uploader’s name.

Linking to subscription content through our library is a great option. Much of the library’s licensed videos can be accessed anytime and anywhere.

If you are unable to find the streaming video through the library’s website, and it is available through other commercial streaming services such as (Netflix, Crave or Disney Plus etc.), you could to ask your students to access the video through their subscription. However, not all students subscribe to these services.

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 (Sec. 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) 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.
  • You must clearly post that the copy is being made using this exception. For example: “You are receiving access to this teaching resource under s.30.01 of the Copyright Act, for use in this class only. If you retain a copy, delete the copy 30 days after you have received the evaluation for the course.”
CC License BY NC This resource has been adapted from "Serving Student Access Needs As We Rapidly Shift to Online Course and Exam Delivery: Copyright Considerations" by CARL. Unless otherwise noted all content is licensed under CC BY-NC.


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