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Copyright Information: Websites & open environments

Websites, Scholarly Communications & Open Environments


To create and preserve knowledge in a way that opens and facilitates the dissemination of knowledge to the world, MRU instructors are encouraged to utilize Creative Commons licenses, digital repositories and other open access channels to distribute their teaching materials broadly. These guidelines are intended to help instructors and course support teams make responsible use of third party copyrighted materials[1] in courses or in educational resources that will be shared openly on the Internet.

If you have questions about the information in these guidelines or how it applies to specific use-case scenarios, please contact the MRU Copyright Advisor at, or MRU's Scholarly Communications librarian, Richard Hayman.

For general copyright information, including what it covers, how long it lasts, how you get permission to use someone’s copyrighted material, and how it works internationally, please see MRU’s Copyright Basics FAQ

  1.  The term "third-party copyrighted materials" refers to any copyrighted works that you do not own the copyright to (note, this includes work you have authored but have assigned copyright to a publisher).


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Copyright in Open Environments

Copyright in Open Environments

Many instructors choose to make their teaching and learning materials, resources or full courses publicly available online, which means that anyone with an Internet connection can access and view the resources. This means that when instructors post content openly on the Internet, they are effectively publishing that content online for a global audience.

Using copyrighted materials in an open environment requires more diligence than using those same materials in a classroom or learning management system at MRU, and is a much riskier endeavor. Since the audience is not limited to registered students, the use of third party copyrighted material will likely require the permission of the copyright owner(s), and the inappropriate use of such material is more likely to generate complaints. Further, many of the educational exceptions that allow classroom use of copyrighted material without permission either do not apply in the open environment or apply only in a limited fashion. 


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Fair Dealing in Open Environments

Fair dealing is nuanced and context-dependent. The following sections provide information about fair dealing with respect to certain content, but understand that they are by no means definitive. If you have questions about whether a particular use-case scenario would qualify as fair dealing, please contact the MRU Copyright Advisor at

  • MRU’s Fair Dealing Guidelines apply only to the use of copyrighted material in closed educational environments such as physical classrooms and MRU’s learning management system (Blackboard), and therefore cannot be relied upon in open environments.
  • Fair dealing does not apply where a license governs the use of the work and that license does not permit use pursuant to the fair dealing exception. This is the case with some of the electronic resources obtained through the MRU Library, and with online materials obtained from websites with terms of use or similar legal notices that restrict fair dealing.


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Seeking Permission

If third party copyrighted material is integral to the point of the learning unit or contribution, the use is not permitted by the Copyright Act. If replacing the material with an openly licensed (e.g. Creative Commons) or public domain substitute is not an option, then seeking permission will be necessary. Instructors may enlist the MRU Copyright Advisor's assistance in seeking permission.

Please note that obtaining permission can take some time, and is not always possible. You will need to be prepared with a backup plan if the copyright owner is unresponsive, cannot be located, or requests an unreasonable fee in return for permission. These obstacles are even more pronounced in open contexts, as many creators and publishers are unfamiliar with open online learning environments and unsure of how to handle related permission requests.

For these reasons, we recommend giving yourself a lot of time, and if enlisting the MRU Copyright Advisor's assistance, you should submit your permission requests at least 10 weeks in advance. In the event that permission cannot be obtained, the MRU Copyright Advisor is available to assist with finding alternatives. A file record of who gave the permission, what was permitted, the date, and how to contact the person who gave the permission will need to be kept. The MRU Copyright Advisor will also assist in managing permission records.

If you anticipate needing to seek permission for excerpts from published books or articles, then please note:

  • Where the instructor is also the author of the work being distributed, the publisher is more likely to grant permission.
  • Whenever possible, a recommendation to purchase the book from which an excerpt is taken, and a link through which students can make such a purchase, will also encourage the publisher to grant permission.

For more information on seeking copyright permissions, click here.


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Licensing Your Work

Applying an Open License to Your Teaching and Learning Materials

Applying a Creative Commons license to your teaching and learning materials can help facilitate the distribution and reuse of those materials. Creative Commons is a non-profit organization whose mandate is to make it easier for creators to share their work and/or build upon the works of others consistent with the rules of copyright. They have created standard, easy to use and understand copyright licenses that anybody can apply to their work to allow others to share, remix, or use the work without having to contact the copyright owner to ask for permission. Creative Commons licenses are not an alternative or exception to copyright, they are one way for copyright owners to distribute their work within the copyright framework.

To apply a Creative Commons license to work in which you are the sole copyright owner, you can use the “Choose a License” form on the Creative Commons website. This form helps you choose a license based on your preferences and then generates the appropriate text to apply to print works, as well as the HTML code to apply to online works.

More information on Creative Commons Licensing can be found on the MRU Copyright Libguide - Creative Commons page, and on the Creative Commons website.


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Open Access At MRU

Open Access

MRU Library Position Statement on Open Access

Open Access (OA) is a publishing model that provides an alternative to the traditional scholarly publishing model. There are different ways that open access can manifest, but for an initiative to be considered open access it must be free of price barriers such as paywalls, subscription costs to end users, or other charges/fees to access materials. OA resources must also be free of most kinds of permission barriers, such as copyright and licensing restrictions around (re)distribution of the materials. OA permissions may grant the user the right to copy, use, change, distribute or display the information, as long as the original author is given credit. OA does not change how information is created; rather, it changes how it is distributed. In a nutshell, Open Access attempts to make digital information freely available and easy to share.

For more information go to


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Mount Royal University Institutional Repository

The Mount Royal University Institutional Repository (MRUIR) is a digital showcase of the scholarship, research, and intellectual contributions of the Mount Royal University community. Institutional repositories have become the standard tool for the dissemination of the scholarly/research output of academic institutions. The Registry of Open Access Repositories (ROAR) lists over 3500 repositories worldwide.

For more information go to the MRU Institutional Repository homepage. 


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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.

Student drop-in office hours on the main floor of the RLLC will resume in September, 2019.