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Copyright Information: Websites

 Websites, Internet Material & Copyright

Content on the Internet, including text, images, and videos, is protected by copyright. Posting an image on the Internet does not place it in the public domain. Unfortunately, there is no collective which exists that provides easy access to, or permissions for, web-based or multimedia objects. 

JUST BECAUSE YOU CAN ACCESS AN ITEM DOES NOT MEAN YOU CAN USE IT.

There are repositories of images on the Internet which contain public domain images, or images licensed under permissive licenses such as Creative Commons licenses. Instructors can usually use these images without seeking any further permission, although any license terms should be adhered to. It is good practice to always provide attribution information for content whenever possible, including the source of the content and, if known, the author or creator. See the Copyright Friendly Resources page for links.

The Copyright Act contains a further exception which allows instructors, staff and students to use works from the internet: 

  • reproduce, communicate by telecommunication and perform for an audience consisting primarily of MRU students or other persons acting under MRU's authority, for educational or training purposes, works or other subject matter that is available through the internet, unless:
    • the works are protected by a Digital Lock that restricts access to the work or other subject-matter or to the website;
    • a clearly visible notice prohibiting such an act is posted on the website or on the work or other subject matter itself; or
    • the educational institution or person acting under its authority knows or should have known that the works were made available on the Internet without consent of the copyright owner

and the following must be mentioned in respect of the work:

  • The instructor, staff or student states the source and, where possible and applicable, the author, performer, maker and broadcaster of the work.

Where these criteria are met, content found on the Internet may be used without seeking permission from the copyright holder. This exception applies even if the content is not in the public domain or licensed under a permissive license. If you are not sure about using material from a particular website, contact the MRU Copyright Advisor at MRUcopyright@mtroyal.ca for guidance.

 

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Printing and Distributing Internet Material

It depends. Where material appears to have been placed online by the copyright holder (ie. is not an obviously infringing copy), and the website's Terms of Use permit it, material from the Internet may be printed out and distributed in class. 

However, it is the individual user's responsibility to comply with a website's Terms of Use and the Copyright Act.  If you do not agree with or cannot comply with a website's Terms of Use, do not use the material or the website.

 

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Showing Online Streaming Videos in the Classroom

If your goal is to show an online streaming video for an educational or training purpose, then you may do so long as you follow ALL of the following rules (which are derived from section 30.04 of the Copyright Act):

  • the video is available through the Internet;
  • you did not break or circumvent a digital lock to access or obtain a copy of the work;
  • there is no clear and visible notice on the website or on the video itself that prohibits the use or reproduction of the video (be sure to check the website terms of use!);
  • you do not suspect that the video was posted without the consent of the owner of the video (e.g. the website is generally reputable and the person who posted the video appears to have a connection with the content.  An example where you know or ought to suspect that a video is infringing is where you find a clip from a Game of Thrones episode that is posted by anyone other than HBO); and
  • you identify the source of the work and, if available and applicable, the author, performer, maker or broadcaster of the work.

YouTube videos may be streamed in the classroom for educational purposes provided that the video is accessed directly through the YouTube website (and satisfies the criteria listed above). YouTube videos cannot be downloaded and/or altered in any way for the purposes of showing the video in the classroom, nor may they be embedded or posted into Blackboard sites or other course websites.  It is your responsibility to check the YouTube terms of use before using the video.

Tricky bits: Showing the video in the classroom is not permitted if the content of the video itself violates copyright, i.e. if the video itself is an illegal copy. Also, if you need a username and password to access the video (as with Netflix) you should not show it in class.

MRU has also purchased access to a number of streaming video collections, including Films on Demand and the National Film Board of Canada, which can be shown in any classroom at MRU.

 

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Technological Protection Measures (aka Digital Locks)

The Copyright Act refers to "technology protection measures," which are commonly known as TPMs or digital locks.  The term describes any technology, device or component that does one of two things: controls or restricts the access to a work (for example, password protection) or restricts you from doing something with the work (for example, copying the work or downloading a copy).  The Copyright Act makes in an offense to circumvent the first of these types of digital locks (the access restriction).  You cannot circumvent a digital lock to obtain access to a copyright-protected audiovisual work, unless authorized by the copyright owner (for example, you have legitimately obtained the password and the end-user license agreement permits your desired use).  For greater clarity, the MRU Fair Dealing Guidelines do not permit the circumvention of digital locks to obtain access to a copyright-protected audiovisual work.  

Motion pictures and other audiovisual works that are published on DVDs are typically protected by a digital lock known as the Content Scrambling System ("CSS"). The MRU Fair Dealing Guidelines do not apply if it is necessary to circumvent a CSS lock in order to copy a Short Excerpt of an audiovisual work. However, it is permissible to reproduce a Short Excerpt under the MRU Fair Dealing Guidelines through using a video recording device, e.g. a camcorder, to record a Short Excerpt from a computer, television screen or projection. It is also permissible 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. For further information, contact the MRU Copyright Advisor at MRUcopyright@mtroyal.ca.

 

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Attribution

Content on this page has been copied and adapted from the "Copyright at UBC" website, created by the University of British Columbia under a CC BY 4.0 International License.

Have a copyright question?

If, after browsing this guide, you still have questions or require additional information please contact MRUcopyright@mtroyal.ca, or 403.440.6618.

The Copyright Advisor is also available in EL1132 for drop-in office hours:

  • Tues: 9:00 - 10:30 am
  • Thurs: 2:30 - 4:00 pm