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Copyright Guidance for Online Courses

Copyright Guidance for Online Courses

Quick Tips

Key points to remember:

  1. Most of the legal issues are the same whether the teaching is done in person or online.
  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 Guidelines.


Additional advice:

  • Use university password-protected systems like to make material available to your students, and use Zoom or other supported eLearning tools to deliver lectures with copyrighted content.

  • Post your in-class slides to D2L. Slides provided by textbook publishers can almost always be used, according to their Terms of Use.

  • Course readings rules for print and online posting to are similar. Either use the Fair Dealing Guidelines, library collection, or link out to legally posted Internet content.

  • The Copyright Office can help you copyright check readings, create links to ebooks and journal articles, obtain access to content that is not currently available in digital format and obtain copyright permissions, as needed.

  • Your Subject/Liaison Librarian may be able to help you find alternative content, and the Library has a large collection of online journals and ebooks that can help support online learning. Your librarian can also help you find openly licensed teaching materials like Open Educational Resources (OER).

  • Use phone apps like Genius Scan or Adobe Scan to easily scan and post print materials D2L within the limits allowed by the Fair Dealing Guidelines. Make scanned PDF files more accessible for your students by using an optical character recognition (OCR) online tool to convert "non-selectable" text files into more accessible versions.

  • 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. 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.

For more detailed information please review the LibGuide or contact the Copyright Office.

 This resource is adapted for the University of Calgary from material prepared by Ann Ludbrook, Copyright and Scholarly Engagement Librarian at Ryerson University.


This resource is adapted for the University of Calgary from material prepared by the Copyright Office, University of Minnesota document Copyright Services, Rapidly shifting your course from in-person to onlineUnless otherwise noted, all content on the Copyright Information section of this site 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 Ryerson University Library.


Consult the copyright website or email if you have other questions about copyright.​

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