What material can I use for class assignments such as essays and presentations?

See the other answers in this FAQ page for an outline of what material you can use and how. Using material for assignments falls under the same educational use guidelines as teaching. Please be aware that if you will be using the material outside of school such as at a place of employment or publishing it then you cannot rely on the same guidelines. Remember to always cite your sources.

What do I do if I want play music or a film for non-educational purposes?

You will need to obtain permission and generally pay a license fee to play a film for non-educational purposes, for help with this please contact copyright@sl.on.ca. You can also see if the film you want to watch is available from one of our providers.

If you really want to play music you can. Just be sure you are playing on YouTube from the original channel, noted with a checkmark icon next to the same.

Can I show videos in class to my students?

Library Videos

The library has licenses to video collections viewable on our Streaming Videos page. These can be shown in class and posted to Blackboard.

DVDs and Video

You do not generally need permission to screen a film, DVD or video in class for non-profit educational instruction. Make sure any DVD you play is not an infringing copy. The Copyright Modernization Act is in force as of November 7th, 2012 and public performance rights are no longer needed for displaying of movies (feature films and documentaries) in a classroom setting. You would still need rights in some cases if you are streaming on-line material, depending on the license attached to that streaming content.

YouTube and other streaming sites

Content posted to YouTube or other public streaming sites are free to show in class provided they are from a verified source, ie. the original uploader. You can identify that a source is verified if the user has a checkmark beside their username. See this Google Answer. A brand's official website can also be visited and they generally have links to their official social media, including things like YouTube. If the source of the video or clip is locked behind a paywall or a password they are not permitted to be shown in class regardless of whether or not there is a personal subscription. (Some exceptions apply, see Netflix info below.)


Educational screenings of documentaries

Link to Original Article
Some Netflix original educational documentaries are available for one-time educational screenings.
To find out which titles are available for educational screenings, visit media.netflix.com and search for the title or browse our recent and upcoming releases.
Titles that are available for educational screening will display either the following Grant of Permission or an Educational Screenings Permission (ESP) on their details page:
Grant of Permission for Educational Screenings
Netflix is proud to present original programming that speaks to our users in a meaningful way. We know that many of you are as excited about these films and series as we are, and because of their informational aspects, you’d like to show them in an educational setting -- e.g., in the classroom, at the next meeting of your community group, with your book club, etc. Consequently, we will permit one-time educational screenings of any of the titles noted with this information, on the following terms:

•The film or series may only be accessed via the Netflix service, by a Netflix account holder.
•We don’t sell DVDs, nor can we provide other ways for you to exhibit the film.
•The screening must be non-profit and non-commercial. That means you can’t charge admission, or solicit donations, or accept advertising or commercial sponsorships in connection with the screening.
•Please don’t use Netflix’s logos in any promotion for the screening, or do anything else that indicates that the screening is “official” or endorsed by Netflix.
•"One-time screening" means that you can't hold screenings several times in one day or one week - but if, for example, you're an educator who wants to show these films or series once a semester over multiple semesters, that's okay.
We trust our users to respect these guidelines, which are intended to help you share and discuss our content in your community.
To the extent you are required to demonstrate that you have a license for your screening, please show them the Original Article (linked above).

Can I copy Chapter 1 of a book for one course that I am teaching and Chapter 3 for a different course?

Yes. Course A and Course B can share a book, and may each have one chapter or 10%. Consider switching to an Open Education Resource (OER).

Can I post Chapter 1 of a book, take it down the next week and post Chapter 2?

No, instead please inquire about Course Pack creation at your Campus Bookstore and the Kingston Campus Printshop. Consider switching to an Open Education Resource (OER).

If an article has a Creative Commons license, can I upload it to my course without obtaining permission?

Creative Commons licensed works are not in the public domain. You must read the license posted with the work and see what it permits. Also, you must acknowledge the copyright owner by citing the source same as you would any referenced article.

I want to post an article to Blackboard for my students, can I do that?

Not post the article itself, but your two options are: providing the title and author for the students to search themselves, or providing a permalink to the resource.

May I upload a PDF article I accessed through one of our licensed journals?

You'll have to read the license terms and conditions, including the Authorized Uses section, to see whether this particular use is permitted by the license. If you cannot find this information, please contact us.
A better alternative is to provide a permalink to the article. If you cannot find a permalink, please contact us.

Why am I being told to link to content rather than post a PDF?

Linking is considered best practice as providing a link to content is not the same as posting a reproduction (i.e. a PDF copy). Many of our databases and our catalogue allow the creation of permalinks to link yourself and your students directly to the content or article.

The bookstore has run out of the textbook for my course, can I just photocopy the necessary portions for my students until they get more copies in?

If the amount you need to copy falls within the Fair Dealing guidelines then you are able to copy it and hand it out to students. You can only copy a maximum of one chapter or 10% from a resource. Consider switching to an Open Education Resource (OER)..

I am using an older edition of a textbook that is currently out of print, can I just make copies of the chapters we use in the course for my students?

No, but you can place one chapter of the book on BlackBoard. Consider switching to the current edition of the same book, using a newer but similar title, or create or try an existing Open Education Resource (OER).

I have pictures that I found on Google Images, do I need to cite the source just for random pictures?

Yes, you do need to cite the source for any images used in the classroom regardless of where they are from. For citation help, please visit The Learning Portal's citation page or book an appointment with the Academic Support Centre.

Can I photocopy a textbook for my own personal use?

No. You may copy up to one chapter or 10% of a text book for private study, research or education. You are not able to copy an entire book without permission from the copyright owner, which may be one or more listed authors or the publisher itself.

Can I copy a book that I bought since I own the book?

No, but Fair Dealing allows you to copy one chapter or 10% if the purpose for the copying is education, research, or teaching. You are not able to copy an entire book without permission from the copyright owner, which may be one or more listed authors or the publisher itself.

Can I copy one chapter or article each from multiple different books or journals?

Yes, you are allowed one article per issue of a serial publication (journal, magazine, newspaper).

Can recipes be copyrighted?

A list of ingredients with amounts would not be copyright protected, but it is likely that the instructions would be.

Shakespeare and Mozart have been dead for over 50 years so can I use all of their works?

Yes, but only their original, unaltered works. Any work that adds new material, such as adding footnotes to a play or a new recording of Mozart's work, is given new copyright upon creation and therefore that new work can only be used within the copyright guidelines.

Can I post images I found on Google Images in my online course, handout, PowerPoint, etc?

Google Images is a search mechanism and does not necessarily provide copyright-free images. Please keep in mind that the library has links to various Creative Commons, Open Access, and Public Domain image sites. Please take note of any license information.

Never use an image, illustration or photograph without first doing research to determine its copyright status. Not everyone realizes that online content is protected by copyright.

Copyright-wise, it's always less risky to link to a photo or other image than it is to copy and paste it onto your website or social media platform. And, it's best not to embed that link, but rather to paste the full URL (web address).

When possible, use photos and other images that you've taken yourself, but note the following:

  • Unless you're employed and took the photos as part of your job, you own the copyright in your own photos.
  • Don't forget to obtain a model release from any persons in your photographs. This isn't a copyright issue, but a privacy/publicity issue.
  • Keep in mind that if you've licensed your images to someone else, you may have limited your own use of those images.

Use images that have a Creative Commons (CC) license. However, be aware that a CC license is just that: a license. You need to read its terms and conditions and see what it allows or not.

Not all CC licenses allow the same uses. A CC license may allow use as-is, in a remix, or as part of a new work. In most cases a CC license requires attribution of the copyright owner.

Purchase images from stock photo agencies and follow the license terms. Remember, you're not outright buying an image from a stock agency, but are paying for certain uses of it. Read the specific terms and conditions (to which you have agreed). For example, you may be able to post the image on your blog but require additional permission to use it on the cover of your e-book.

Always verify that the image's creator has the rights to permit you to use it. They may have assigned their rights to someone else and no longer own copyright in the image. Or, they may have created the photograph or other image at work as part of their employment duties, and copyright belongs to the employer.

Why would I use a course space in a SLC's supported Learning Management System (Blackboard) instead of a website?

There are two copyright related reasons to use a LMS site over a public website. First, if you are using the Fair Dealing Policy to post materials, you must be posting to a learning or course management system site that is password protected or otherwise restricted to students of the College. In addition, if you are getting permission to post materials, copyright holders will almost always require that access to the material is restricted to students enrolled in your class. We recommend that all faculty members and instructors at St. Lawrence College use the LMS supported by their departments to manage their course materials.

Best practices for posting copyrighted materials to LMS Sites like Blackboard:

  • the electronic copy is made available to the student from a secure server protected by a password or a similar measure that ensures that the copy is only made available to the students enrolled in the course of instruction for which the copy was made;
  • the electronic copy is made available to the student on a read-only basis in PDF format or a similar format that prevents the copy from being altered by the student;
  • the electronic copy made is deleted once the course of instruction or the series of courses it pertains to has come to an end.

In addition, please include the following notices on your course website:

On the main page of your website: "This material is designed for use as part of <Course Name> at St. Lawrence College and is the property of the instructor unless otherwise stated. Third party copyrighted materials (such as book chapters and articles) have either been licensed for use in this course or fall under an exception or limitation in Canadian Copyright law."

With or on the copyrighted works uploaded for the class: "This material has been provided for research, private study or education. Copying or communicating this material for further distribution (e.g. uploading material to a commercial third-party website) can lead to a violation of Copyright law. Find out more about copyright here: https://stlawrencecollege.libguides.com/copyright."

Terms of Use

This guide has been adapted from the CLO Learning Portal Copyright page (archived) and the Faculty Toolkit.

This site was designed solely for informational purposes for St. Lawrence College faculty, staff and students. All other users are encouraged to check and confirm the information with their institution(s). This site is prepared by library staff and is not reviewed by legal counsel.