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Copyright Information: Class handouts & library reserves (with FAQ)

Class Handouts

Print Handouts for your Classroom

The Supreme Court of Canada has held that the making of multiple copies to hand out to students for the purpose of education is considered a "fair dealing" under the Copyright Act. However, the amount of material handed out is important. Instructors should limit their handouts to "short excerpts" of copyrighted works. Typically this means a single chapter from a book or a single article from a journal or periodical.  See the MRU Fair Dealing Guidelines for more details. 

In order to gain access to some e-resources, Mount Royal University must sign license agreements with distributors. Occasionally, these agreements prohibit in-class handouts of material from the e-resource. However, many MRU Library-licensed electronic resources do permit in-class handouts. Speak to your Subject Liaison Librarian or see the Library's Journals by Title list (see below for more info) to see if handouts are included in the permitted uses for the journal you wish to use.


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Alternatives to Class Handouts

Alternatives to class handouts include:

  • providing students with a citation to a print resource or a link to an e-resource (e-book chapter or article, etc.); 
  • projecting the article onto a screen in class (if practical); or 
  • seeking permission from the copyright holder for handouts (prior to distribution in class)(contact the MRU Copyright Advisor at for assistance with seeking copyright permissions).

If you want to provide articles or excerpts from a book to students on a regular basis, for example, every year that you teach the course, and you know what articles or excerpts you want to distribute in advance, you should consider contacting your subject liaison librarian about using the library reserves system, uploading into MRU's learning management system (Blackboard) or creating a print course pack instead.


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Seeking Permission for Class Handouts

If you need to distribute more than a short excerpt of a copyrighted work to a class, the Copyright Advisor will seek permission on your behalf directly from the copyright holder, which is typically the author or the publisher.  You can contact the MRU Copyright Advisor by emailing A specific request will need to be made which includes information such as:

  • your role and affiliation;
  • citation for work;
  • type of use (educational in-class handouts, course of study);
  • number of students using copied material;
  • number of copies to be made;
  • format of copy, etc.

Given that these are educational uses we request royalty-free usage in most cases. However, copyright owners sometimes request a royalty payment for use of their material, and it is within their rights to do so. For more information on seeking permissions and the information included in permission requests, click here. If you seek permission yourself, you must keep a copy of the permission for as long as you use the copyrighted material.


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Print Copies of PowerPoint Slides

You may be able to print copies of your PowerPoint Slides and distribute them as class handouts, but it depends on the content of your lecture slides. If you created the PowerPoint slides and they are text-only, then you can distribute copies to your students. Things get tricky if your PowerPoint slides contain images. Please refer to the Lecture Slides & Recordings - Distributing Lecture Slides section of this LibGuide for more information on distributing your lecture slides as class handouts.


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Printing Material from the Web

If you want to distribute material from the web, check the website’s “Terms of Use” or “Legal Notices” section to make sure your intended use isn’t prohibited. Content from the web is protected by copyright law in the same way as print and other formats, even if there is no copyright symbol or notice. If you have reason to believe that the website may contain content posted without the permission of the copyright owner, you should avoid using it.


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Class Handouts FAQ

Do my students also have to follow these rules around handouts and printing off PowerPoint slides?

Yes. Students should be advised, when they are assigned class presentations or similar assignments, of the responsibilities associated with copyright compliance – particularly around in class handouts and video public performance rights. 


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Do I need to obtain permission for other copyright jobs that are printed on campus?

Any job submitted for printing must be copyright-compliant, and each individual member of the MRU community has a responsibility to comply with the Copyright Act. If you have permission to copy the item from the copyright owner, please provide documentation for the permission when submitting your order to the Digital Media Centre (Document Services). If you do not have permission, please contact the MRU Copyright Advisor at for further assistance.


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Library Reserves

Photocopies of Library reserve items are also affected by recent legal decisions interpreting Canadian copyright legislation. Changes to reserve readings can be summarized as follows:

  • whenever possible the Library will place an original (rather than a copy) of an item on reserve;
  • Library reserve staff will provide permalinks to any e-resources the Library has already purchased, which may then be posted to Blackboard or other course websites.

Where necessary, the librarian may ask the Copyright Advisor to seek permission from the copyright holder to copy items for reserve purposes. Faculty should be aware that additional time to seek permissions or purchase an original of the work may be required, and should account for this time when making requests for the library reserves. Click here for more information on Setting Up Course Reserves through the MRU Library.


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Library Reserves (FAQ)

Can I put a textbook for my course on reserve?

Yes, original works can be placed on reserve without any concern for copyright. The Library currently reviews course textbook lists and places items held in the collection on reserve to ensure the best access for students.  However, material taken from electronic resources (such as journal articles or chapters of e-books) may be restricted by the terms of a license agreement.


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Can I still put something I own on reserve in the Library?

Yes. The Library is happy to accept your personal copies, provided they are not complimentary sample textbooks for instructor review. No photocopied materials (book chapters, articles etc.) may be placed on reserve without obtaining copyright permission. In some circumstances, the Library may purchase original works to place on reserve; please speak to Library reserve staff about such purchases. 


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I have heard other institutions talking about e-reserves. Is this a service that Mount Royal University Library offers?

No. MRU Library does not currently offer an e-reserves service, where print documents are scanned to digital form for secure/locked posting on Blackboard.


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A Note on Journal Articles and Electronic Resources

If you wish you to include a journal article taken from an electronic database or another electronic resource as part of your course material, you must comply with the terms of the license agreement.  Each electronic item is governed by a license agreement, and we must comply with the terms of the license when using electronic material.

Click here for more information on license agreements, how to use electronic resources or journal articles taken from electronic databases in your course pack.


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A Note on Sources

When compiling material for your course, please note that the university or faculty member must be in lawful possession of the Work from which the copy of the Short Excerpt is made.  Being in lawful possession includes the following:

  • a work is in the collection of the university library, a department or a faculty member;
  • a work is borrowed by the university library or faculty member through an inter-library loan (and complies with the conditions imposed by the lending institution); and
  • the university or faculty member has a copy  of the Work, or a portion of a Work, pursuant to fair dealing or as otherwise permitted pursuant to the Copyright Act.

The Fair Dealing Guidelines do not permit copying or communicating a Work for a lecture or presentation that is open to the general public, i.e. a lecture or presentation that is not restricted to students specifically enrolled in a course of study at MRU. Depending on the circumstances, the fair dealing exception may apply where the lecture or presentation is open to the public, but a separate fair dealing analysis is required to make that determination.  For information and assistance, contact the MRU Copyright Advisor at


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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, or 403.440.6618.

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