Skip to main content

Copyright for Employees


What can I use for instruction?

The Copyright Act of Canada, along with various international treaties determine how you can or cannot use other people's works. In addition, as an academic institution, it is critical that we use information ethically to maintain our academic integrity and respect creators' rights under the Act.That being said, there are a number of circumstances in which you can use excerpts from other people's content in course materials without prior permission (this list also applies to Blackboard and in-class handouts):

  • If the work falls within the public domain;
  • If you created the work, such as a photograph, article, diagram, etc., then you own the copyright in it and can determine how it is used. However, if you published the work in (e.g.) a journal, you should check the terms of the publication agreement to confirm there are no restrictions on usage;
  • If the work comes from an Open Access Educational Resource;
  • If the work carries a license such as Creative Commons (but be sure to abide by the terms of the license);
  • By using works that are licensed through MRU's e-licenses (always make sure the terms of the license allow for the particular use);
  • By applying any of your applicable user rights under the Copyright Act; or if none of these are applicable,
  • By obtaining a transactional license or written permission to use the material (click here for help with this);

Note: None of your user rights will apply if you did not obtain the work legally.

Personal use

You may use copyright protected works (those that aren't in the public domain) under the fair dealing provisions of the Copyright Act for personal research, study, or even simply on personal interest.

Fair dealing applies to your private use of works for research or study. In most cases, you can make a single copy of a "fair" excerpt from a work for your own research or private study as long as you don't distribute it (such as posting it to the Internet). That said, it would be within your rights to post a "fair' excerpt of a work to a website, such as a blog, especially if it is for additional purposes such as news reporting, criticism, parody, or review. You may also be able to share your own new works that contain third party works under the non-commercial user generated content user right.

The amount of works that is copied will affect whether or not a particular use is "fair." Copying an entire book for your personal use would not be fair, but, depending on the context, copying a chapter from a book for a research project would likely qualify. However, copying multiple chapters of a text instead of purchasing it would likely be unfair. In some cases it may be fair to copy an entire work, such as a journal or magazine article, a single photograph, or a poem.


Reproduction for private purposes (format-shifting)

The reproduction, for private purposes, of any work is permitted as long as the source copy was legally obtained and a digital lock is not circumvented to make the copy. This allows you to copy a CD to your computer or transfer a file or iTunes purchase from one device to another. The source copy and the devices would need to be owned by you (or, in some cases, a member of your household) in order for it to be legal. This provision does not address copying onto a CD-R or other “recording medium” (such copying would be covered in some cases by the copying levy - such as on CD-Rs). The provision also does not allow you to give away or share a copy you made.


Backup copies

A backup copy of a work may be made to protect against the loss of the source copy or anything that may make the original unusable, if the source was a legally obtained copy and a digital lock is not circumvented to make the copy. The backup copy cannot be given away or shared. The source copy cannot be sold or given away without first destroying the backup.


Recording signals and recording programs for listening/viewing at a later time (time-shifting)

Under section 29.23 of the Copyright Act, it is legal to record radio and television programs for listening or viewing at a later time. So, you can use your PVR (or VCR if you are still into that) to record shows. The provision allows programs to be kept for a reasonable time to view (or listen to) at a more convenient time, but does not allow a collection of shows to be made and kept indefinitely.


Private copying and file sharing

A copy of a musical work may be made for private use onto an audio recording medium without infringing copyright. This has been confirmed to include hard drives and could include downloads. Despite rumours to the contrary, however, it is not legal in Canada to share (distribute or communicate by telecommunication) copyright-protected files with a large group over file sharing services such a BitTorrent. 

Staff use

Who owns the copyright in the works I create at MRU?

Generally, a creator owns copyright in a work unless it has been assigned to another entity, such as a publisher. If the work was created in the course of employment, however, the employer owns the copyright. MRU faculty own copyright in their own works, including lectures, in accordance with the collective bargaining agreement between the University and the MRU Faculty Association. For non-faculty staff, the University retains copyright in works created during the course of employment.


Can I use copyrighted materials for staff training?

The best way to source materials for staff training and education is to use works where the copyright owner has provided permission, such as resources from the MRU library, works in the public domain, Open Access Educational Resources, works under open licenses such as Creative Commons or short excerpts of works as outlined in the MRU Fair Dealing Guidelines.

Keep in mind that if a copy of a short excerpt is made available electronically on a server or other device, the server or other device must be secure (e.g. password protected) and the copy must be accessible only by relevant staff members. Email and posting to an LMS site dedicated to such administrative purposes, are permissible modes of distribution. Also, check out the Resources page for great sources.

Research and scholarship use

Copyright in Research

Unless you have an agreement to the contrary, you automatically have copyright protection for all original literary, artistic, dramatic and musical works, computer programs, translations and compilations of works, as well as sound recordings, performances and communication signals associated with your personal research. Keep in mind, however that facts (data) is not subject to copyright protection, so (for example) a telephone book is not protected by copyright.


Sharing copyrighted documents by email or on cloud platforms, such as Google Drive or Dropbox, is now commonplace. Do such distributions infringe copyright?

Fair dealing will apply to most scenarios as long as the amounts shared and the size of the distribution is limited via password protection. The best way to avoid copyright issues is to share links (such as DOIs or hyperlinks) rather than providing a copy. The copying or communication by faculty and staff of excerpts from copyrighted works for the purposes of research, private study, news reporting, criticism, review, education, parody and satire to each member of a scholarly or research group with a limited number of members who share one or more of these purposes is likely to qualify as fair dealing (see Copyright basics for more information).

These purposes are to be given a large and liberal interpretation. Research, for example, doesn't need to be a formal scholarly enterprise, but may simply be sharing a copy of an article out of an interest in the topic. A "research group" can be any group of people with a shared research interest. Any topic, scholarly or not, can qualify. Sharing copies of excerpts or a limited number of articles with a small group that consists primarily of students, faculty and staff of MRU or with a limited number of colleagues at other institutions, such as via email or a cloud sharing service, would also be fair dealing.

However, uploading your or anyone else's works to scholarly sharing sites such as ResearchGate is considered publication, and should not be done unless you have explicit permission from the copyright owner. In many cases, the works uploaded to such sharing sites were not uploaded with the knowledge and consent of the copyright owner, making them illegal sources. Please do not upload or download articles from this or other scholarly sharing sites where copyrights are commonly infringed. 


What should I do if someone asks to use one of my works?

It depends. If it's a published scholarly and you entered into a publication contract with a publisher, they may own copyright in the work, meaning you don't have the right to grant permission for someone else to use it, so you may have to refer them to the copyright owner (publisher). If you retain copyright ownership you may choose to grant the request for free, for a fee, subject to certain conditions, or refuse the request altogether. Where there are co-owners or co-creators of a work, each individual will have to provide consent for the use.


Faculty lectures and course materials

As the creator of the “performance“ that is your lecture, you have the copyright on the fixed copy if one is recorded. Performance of the lecture does not become a copyright issue until the lecture is fixed in some tangible form (recorded), or is communicated or broadcasted (e.g. transmitted live over the Internet). The copyright in a recording of your lecture belongs to you. The interpretive class notes of a student would not be yours, assuming they were not a verbatim record of the lecture. The ideas and concepts raised in your lecture are not protected by copyright.

A faculty member owns the copyright in course notes, PowerPoints and other unpublished material that are created and used for their courses, regardless of on what platform they are shared. Permission would be required for another instructor to use those materials or for students to post such materials to public websites. 


Author Rights

Author rights refer to the rights you retain over your work when you sign a publication agreement.These are actually a bundle of rights, including the rights over reproduction, creation of derivative works (modifications, translations, and adaptations), distribution, and public display. When you publish a book or a paper, many publishers will  ask you to transfer all your copyrights to the work as a condition of publication. This contract may also be referred to as a “copyright transfer agreement”. It is important to look carefully at your agreement. Unless the agreement indicates otherwise, you may be forbidden to: 

  • Make copies to distribute to your students;
  • Post your work to a personal website or online archive such as MRU's Institutional Repository;
  • Give copies of your work to colleagues;
  • Present your work at conferences;
  • Use parts of the work in future publications (and to modify, adapt, create derivative works, adaptations, or translations); and
  • Grant permission for others to use your work. 

Remember that publication agreements are negotiable and you may choose to retain private legal counsel to help you negotiate these rights.


Can I share my research online through a personal website or digital repository?

This will depend on the copyright policies of your publisher, the rights you retained through your publication agreement, and the version of the work you’d like to share. Some publisher agreements allows authors to archive pre-prints (your manuscript prior to peer review), and/or post prints (your final peer-reviewed manuscripts).

Open Access journals often allow you to retain copyright over your article with very few or no restrictions (authors are often able to freely share the PDF of the final article). Publishers may also specify conditions such as where you can archive, how soon after publication, and how to cite the resource when archiving. The best way to determine what you can do is to read your publication agreement. You can also refer to Sherpa/Romeo, which provides details of the archiving rights normally given by the publishing agreements of various publishers. It ranks publishers on the following scale:

  • Green: authors can archive post-prints (the final draft of an article after peer review) and the publisher’s final PDF version of articles.
  • Blue: authors can archive post-prints or the publisher’s final PDF version of the article.
  • Yellow: authors can archive pre-prints (the version of the paper before peer-review).


Open Access

Open Access (OA) is a publishing model that provides an alternative to the traditional scholarly publishing model. There are different ways that OA can arise, but for an initiative to be considered OA 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, OA attempts to make digital information freely available and easy to share. For more information go to the MRU Open Access website.


Open Educational Resources

Open Educational Resources (OER) are teaching, learning and research materials in any medium – digital or otherwise – that reside in the public domain or have been released under an open license that permits no-cost access, use, adaptation and redistribution by others with no or limited restrictions. Check out MRU's OER page for more information.


OA vs OER - What's the difference?

(OA) refers to freely available content that has been permanently placed online such as scholarly articles and journals. These resources can be reused and often there is some scope for alteration. On the other hand, OER encourages the remixing and redistribution of resources and covers a much wider range of materials.


The Mount Royal University Institutional Repository

The Mount Royal University Institutional Repository is a digital showcase of the scholarship, research, and intellectual contributions of the MRU 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. 


Conference Presentations

If a conference presentation will be displayed or distributed to an audience that is not comprised primarily of MRU students or faculty, then using someone else’s images (including data, tables, photos, images, and figures) in the presentation would likely not fall within MRU’s Fair Dealing Guidelines, and would also likely not be permitted under your educational user rights

If your conference takes place outside of MRU, or before the general public, you may not be able to rely on fair dealing. However, fair dealing could still apply, but it would have to be determined through a separate fair dealing analysis to ensure compliance with the Copyright Act. Keep in mind that you always have the perfectly good option of seeking permission from the copyright owner.

Note: If you are invited to attend a conference in another country and plan to incorporate third party copyrighted material into your presentation, you are bound by the laws of that country. For instance, in Canada material generally enters the public domain 50 years after the death of the author, but in other countries like the United States, the term is longer (70 years or more). So material you may use here without permission because it is in the public domain may still be copyrighted there. Also, you, as the presenter, own the copyright in any materials you create for your presentation, as well as in your presentation or lecture itself. You may wish to attach a Creative Commons notice to your slides, or a Copyright statement in order to reinforce this ownership. In such cases, it is always best practice to obtain written permission, use works in the public domain on via license.


Applying an open license to your 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 copyright legislation. They have created free, 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 and they do not overrule fair dealing. 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. Note that a CC license does not prevent you from still monetizing or marketing your work.

Course packs

What is a course pack?

A course pack is a compilation of works from one or more sources that is printed and sold to students as part of their course materials. Please contact the MRU Bookstore for more information on producing a course pack. The MRU Bookstore works closely with the Copyright Advisor to make sure course packs are compliant with the Copyright Act and MRU Use of Copyright Materials Policy (POL #1610). ALL items requested for inclusion in course packs will be reviewed by the MRU Copyright Advisor for copyright compliance. If any materials are not copyright compliant, the Copyright Advisor, along with your subject librarian, will work to find alternate resources or, where fees are not cost-prohbitive, obtain a transactional license on your behalf. It is strongly encouraged that you source works from the MRU e-library wherever possible (please check that the e-license terms permit course pack reproduction).

Note: MRU does not make any profit off of the production and sale of course packs, which are simply sold at a cost-recovery price (which may include licensing fees paid to include copyright protected works). 

The following deadlines apply when submitting materials to be reproduced in a print course pack:

  • Fall Semester: May 30th
  • Winter Semester: October 15th
  • Spring Semester: March 15th
  • Summer Semester: March 30th


How do I know what I to use?

Check out What can I use for instruction. If you're still unsure, contact the Copyright Advisor (, who will be happy to help you source copyright-friendly resources or obtain permissions or licenses.


Note: there are forms that must be completed prior to submitting your course pack. The forms provide details such as book/journal title, web address, author name, ISBN/ISSN number, page range and total number of pages in a book. The cost of course packs varies depending on copyright fees, the number of pages and documents, and the volume of course packs being produced. Those costs are reflected in the selling price of the course pack. If you have any questions about the process of ordering a course pack and related copyright issues, contact the MRU Bookstore (ask for Ian Martini).


Please make sure you do the following prior to submitting your course pack for copyright review:

  • Forms: Ensure all forms are accurately and completely filled out; list ALL copyrighted information, even if you own the copyright. Even if information seems redundant, it is required for record keeping purposes.
  • Permissions:
    • Clearly identify any works for which permissions still need to be sought, and give the Copyright Advisor sufficient time to seek permissions (in some cases this can take upwards of 8 weeks).
    • If a copyright holder granted permission for use, include a copy of that permission with your completed forms; ensure any permissions you have are current and cover your intended use.
  • Websites: If you have taken material from a website, make sure to include a copy of the website terms of use. Note that images taken from a website may require separate permission as they are often owned by third parties not associated with the website.
  • Licensed Material: If you are using material pursuant to a license, make sure to either: include a copy of the license agreement, or in the case of journal articles, list the database and DOI from which it was taken. For Creative Commons licensed material, make sure the license permits your intended use.


Does copyright even matter on a closed learning management system like Blackboard?

Yes. copyright applies in all forums, whether content is digital or physical.


How do I know what I can use?

Check out What can I use for instruction, which also applies to Blackboard. Or, if you're still unsure, contact the Copyright Advisor.


Is there a difference between posting something to Blackboard and posting something to my own website?

Yes. Unless your website is password protected, it is publicly accessible, meaning anyone, not just your students may access it. As a result, you are therefore communicating materials to an unlimited audience, which would greatly impede the fairness of your dealing and may circumvent licenses, permissions, or other terms of use when posting other people's works. Unless you have explicit permission, or it clearly falls within a user right, do not publicly post other people's works to an open website.


Can I post an entire video, song, or movie to Blackboard?

Generally, no, not without permission or a license. You may post a link to a legally uploaded video on the open Internet (i.e. where there's no login), but make sure to open the link in a new tab or page. You may be able to post up to 10% of a video, song, or movie under fair dealing.


Can I post a .pdf of a journal article, a portion of a book (under 10%), or a chapter of a book to my Blackboard site?

Probably. If you scanned the work (or excerpt) from a physical source, then it likely qualifies under fair dealing. However, if you sourced the content from one of MRU's e-licensed resources, you must check the terms of the journal. The Copyright Advisor is happy to help you in making this determination.


If I distribute two "short excerpts" of a textbook, one distributed as a class handout on the first day of class and one posted on Blackboard on the last day of class, are these considered to be separate instances of "fair dealing"? 

No. For each class in a given semester, the use of excerpts from a given work must be assessed cumulatively. Distributing excerpts that exceed the limits of fair dealing, even in different mediums on different dates, still infringes copyright. You can, however do this if you are using MRU library e-licensed materials (as we pay for such use), or you may be able to obtain a transactional license for the use.


Posting lecture slides to Blackboard

If the third party copyrighted material within your lecture slides qualifies under one or more of your educational user rights, or you have received the copyright owner's written permission (which may include an MRU e-resources or Creative Commons license), then you may post a copy of the lecture slides into Blackboard, provide physical copies to your students, or send digital copies via email. If your slides contain third party works (such as images) or excerpts of works (such as parts of texts) that were only included under the presentation user right, best practice is to remove those third party items and add in links or citations to them before distributing or posting the slides to Blackboard.

Note: When considering the distribution of lecture slides, there is an important distinction between posting the slides to a publicly accessible website, and posting the slides to a website that is restricted to students enrolled in your course. Blackboard is a password protected, secure website that is restricted to and accessible only by MRU students, and each student's access is limited to the courses they are registered in. By contrast, most privately owned websites (e.g. YouTube) are publicly accessible, in the sense that anyone may visit, not just your students. Posting lecture slides containing third party owned copyrighted works to Blackboard is generally fine, but posting to public websites may not be.


Do I need to ask permission to link to a website?

Generally no, but you should check the website's "Terms of Use" section to confirm whether or not it has any specific linking prohibitions. You should not link to a website or material that you know or ought to know is an infringing copy such as a pirated movie, a book that was illegally scanned or uploaded, or illegally copied music. In addition, some of MRU's e-resources contain linking prohibitions. 


May I post examples of my students' work on Blackboard?

Only if you have obtained the student's written permission. However, if the work contains third party copyrighted materials, you will also need to confirm that the student obtained the copyright owner's consent to use their materials, that such materials are in the public domain, or that the use of the materials falls within one of the students' user rights. Note however, that posting any works that contain third party materials to open Internet sites (as opposed to Blackboard) may infringe copyright.


Are there special rules for scanning? 

The rules for making a digital copy are the same as the rules for making a physical (paper) copy.


Best Practices: 
If you wish to rely on the fair dealing or other educational exceptions to post copyrighted materials on Blackboard, you must ensure that such postings are subject to reasonable safeguards to prevent students from distributing, transmitting or disseminating such materials to persons outside the course or class. It is suggested that you simply inform your students at the start of each semester that by forwarding or posting materials uploaded to Blackboard they are infringing copyright. 
Instead of posting a .pdf, it's always best to post a hyperlink to the original source, as this does not have copyright implications. Also, when using hyperlinks, always link to a new tab or window so as not to frame someone else's content in Blackboard. The Library's Permalink Builder is available for this purpose. As an added feature, a hyperlink to the article allows the MRU Library to track use and obtain data about the importance of a particular journal to the campus.
Only post materials that fall under What can I use for instruction.
Only include as much of materials that are reasonably necessary for the purpose of the course.
Include a clearly visible notice on all materials you post that states something to the effect of: "This copy is made solely for your personal use for research, private study, education, parody, satire, criticism or review only. Further reproduction, fixation, distribution, transmission, dissemination, communication, or any other uses, may be an infringement of copyright if done without securing the permission of the copyright owner. You may not distribute, email or otherwise communicate these materials to any other person."
When uploading materials directly into Blackboard, confirm the copyright authorization(s) apply to the material(s) on the copyright metadata form.
When providing links to websites, do not "frame" the external website nor any content from the other webpage. If the web address does not clearly identify the website and the content owner, you should also include the full details of the author, copyright owner and source of the materials by the link (this will avoid any suggestion that the website contains your own material or that you are somehow affiliated with the other site). Link only to reputable and legitimate websites.
Never post links to infringing materials that were likely or obviously uploaded without the copyright owners knowledge and/or consent.

Class handouts

What can I distribute in class?

Instructors may provide handouts to students as long as they comply with What can I use for instruction


Can I email copyright-protected works to my students?

Yes, but only if it only a "short excerpt" of the work and you're in compliance with MRU's Fair Dealing Guidelines, and you inform the recipients that they may not forward or post the material and that it is only to be use for their personal use.


If I distribute two "short excerpts" of a textbook, one distributed as a class handout on the first day of class and one posted on Blackboard on the last day of class, are these considered to be separate instances of "fair dealing"? 

No. For each class in a given semester, the use of "short excerpts" from a given work must be assessed cumulatively. Distributing excerpts that exceed the limits of fair dealing, even in different mediums on different dates, still infringes copyright if it's distributed to the same class in the same semester.


Are there special rules for scanning?

The rules for making a digital copy are the same as the rules for making a physical (paper) copy.


Alternatives to class handouts

There are a number of ways to save paper and reduce copyright considerations when providing resources for your students:

  • Provide students with a citation to a print resource or a link to an e-resource (e-book chapter or article, etc.);
  • Project the work onto a screen in class (if practical);
  • Place the work on reserve in the library (contact your subject librarian for assistance); or
  • Upload an excerpt to Blackboard.


Distributing 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 the slides. If you created the PowerPoint slides and they are text-only, then you can distribute copies to your students, as you own the copyright. Things get tricky if your PowerPoint slides contain images or other third party works. Please refer to the Presentations in class section for more information. 

However, if the third party copyrighted material within your lecture slides qualifies as a "Short Excerpt", as defined in the  MRU Fair Dealing Guidelines, or you have received the copyright owner's written permission (which may include an e-resources or Creative Commons license), then you may post a copy of the lecture slides into Blackboard, provide physical copies to your students, or send digital copies via email.

Note: According to section 32 (1,2 and 3) of the Copyright Act it is not an infringement to make a copy of a work (other than a cinematographic work) in a format designed for a person with a perceptual disability provided it is not already commercially available in an appropriate format. This means that, upon request, you must provide unaltered copies of you lecture slides to students who have perceptual disabilities, and doing so will not infringe copyright.


Best Practice: If your slides contain third party works (such as images) or excepts of works (such as parts of texts), best practice is to remove those third party items and add in links or citations to the third party materials before handing them out, emailing them, or posting them to Blackboard.


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. You should also consult the Fair dealing and Works on the Internet portions of this guide. 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.


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. The Copyright Advisor is also always happy to speak to your class about copyright issues in relation to their school work. 


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 Copyright Advisor for further assistance.

Presentations in class

What copyrighted materials can I show to my students during in-class presentations?

It's fine to use third party works in lecture slides displayed in class, but you may have to redact those images if you then distribute your slides to your students or post them to Blackboard. You do not have to redact third party works obtained through licenses, permissions, or user rights. Keep in mind that, if the images are commercially available, at a reasonable price, in a reasonable format and with in a reasonable time frame, then this user right (s. 29.4)  is not applicable.


Can students include copyrighted materials in their assignments and presentations?

Generally, students presenting assignments in class are subject to the same rights and restrictions that apply to instructors who are teaching in classroom environments.

Movies in class

Can I show an online streaming video in class?

If you want to show an online streaming video for an educational or training purpose, then you may do so without obtaining permission from the copyright holder as long as you comply with ALL of the requirements under section 30.04 of the Copyright Act):

  1. The video is available through the OPEN Internet (e.g. YouTube);
  2. You did not break or circumvent a digital lock to access or obtain a copy of the work (e.g. a Netflix login);
  3. There is no clear and visible notice on the website or the video that prohibits its use or reproduction (check the website terms of use);
  4. You do not suspect that the video was posted without the consent of the owner of the video (i.e. 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
  5. You cite 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 all criteria above). YouTube videos cannot be downloaded and/or altered in any way, nor may they be embedded or posted into Blackboard or other websites.  Always check the video's terms of use before showing it in class. You can typically link to videos as well - but make sure they were legally uploaded with the knowledge and consent of the uploader (a great example of a legal source you can use in class or link to is TedTalks).

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. Check out MRU's streaming video databases here.


Can I play an entire movie from a physical DVD or Blu-Ray in class?

If your goal is to achieve an educational or training purpose, then yes, so long as you follow the requirements under section 29.5 of the Copyright Act.


Is it legal to download videos from the Internet?

It depends. Downloading films and videos, without the permission of the copyright owner or rightsholder, is illegal in Canada, unless the video is a legally uploaded work that provides you with a license or permission to do so (and that is not one that you can access through a personal subscription such as Netflix).


Can I change the format of a video or film (e.g., digitize a VHS tape)?

When you convert a work from one form to another (i.e. VHS to DVD), this is called format shifting. The Copyright Act only permits format shifting of a copyrighted film for your personal use and only when:

(i) you personally own a legitimately purchased copy,

(ii) the use is for you own private purposes,

(iii) you do not give the new copy away, and

(iv) You did not circumvent a technological protection measure to do so (i.e. you do not use pirating software to make the copy).

Note that this exception does not permit you to convert a VHS cassette for the purposes of screening a film in class.


Can I show something off Netflix to my class?

Netflix is a commercial service provided to individual end users - not the University. In other words, MRU does not have an institutional Netflix account and the license agreement precludes us obtaining one. Therefore your use of Netflix must comply with the Terms of Use you personally agreed to when you signed up for the service, meaning, in most cases you are not permitted to show Netflix shows to your class. However, Netflix has recently added notations to a few of its documentaries, having obtained educational performance rights from the copyrights holder. In such cases, you can perform the movie in class for educational purposes.


If you wish to play an audiovisual work in class, your options include:

  • Searching the MRU Library catalogue to see if the title is in the MRU Library collection (if not, talk to your subject liaison librarian about acquiring it);
  • Purchasing or borrowing a physical commercial copy of the video (such as a DVD or Blu-Ray); and/or
  • Checking YouTube, or any other publicly accessible site, to see if a legal version of the clip you wish to use has been uploaded by the copyrights holder.


Can I copy an A/V work such as a movie or video?

Under the MRU Fair Dealing Guidelines, you may make a copy of a 'short excerpt' (up to 10%) of a copyright-protected audiovisual work and distribute it to a limited audience for research, education, private study, criticism and/or review, among other purposes. 'Short excerpts' may be shown in class, posted to Blackboard, or sent via email to your students. Note that the copy must be made from a legally obtained work and it must be made without bypassing a technological protection measure. For example, you could not create a short excerpt from an illegally obtained video torrent nor could you use pirating software to record a clip from an audio visual work even if the original was legally obtained.

TV in class

Can I show a news broadcast in class?

You can record a news broadcast and play it back for your class at a later time under s. 29.6 of the Copyright Act. This applies to commentaries as well, but does not include documentaries.


Can I play live TV in class?

Yes, you can play any live broadcast in class for your students at the time it airs under s. 29.5(c) of the Copyright Act. Keep in mind, that you have to hope that the particular broadcast coincides with your class schedule in order for this provision apply.


Can I play a regular TV program in class?

Not without permission. Under s. 29.7 of the Copyright Act, you can record any TV program and save it for up to 30 days to preview it and decide whether to play it for your students in class. However, if you do decide to play it, then you must pay to the broadcaster a royalty, and document the making, erasing, and performing of the copy for your class along with the method you used to cite it for your students.

Music in class

Introduction: Musical works (sheet music) v sound recordings

A musical work is printed or digital sheet music showing a musical score (the actual notes that make up the song). Musical works are available individually or in a collection containing several scores and may include both a  composition and lyrics. A composer and a lyricist may each own copyright in their separate contributions to a single musical work.

Every musical work is protected by copyright (unless it has become public domain), whether published or unpublished, and the MRU Fair Dealing Guidelines apply to both. Frequently, new arrangements of pre-existing musical works are prepared and published, particularly for ones in the public domain. This often creates a new term of copyright in the arrangement (check out the editions, arrangement, translations & adaptations section for more information). 

When a performance of a musical work is recorded, a sound recording is created. Copyright protects all new sound recordings (even if the underlying musical work is in the public domain). Sound recordings may have a number of copyright owners including composers, lyricists, performers, recording studios and record producers.


Copying or distributing musical works (sheet music) and sound recordings

Subject to the safeguards discussed below, under the MRU Fair Dealing Guidelines, a MRU employee may copy and distribute a "short excerpt" (up to 10%) of a musical work that is in the form of individual sheet music. If the musical work (sheet music) is published in a book containing other musical works (sheet music), you may copy or distribute one entire musical work (unless it is available at a reasonable price in a reasonable time frame on its own). You may also copy or distribute up to 10% of a sound recording as long as you don't have to use illegal software to extract the excerpt. 

Note: Copies of "short excerpts" of musical works and sound recordings are only to be provided to students enrolled in a course of study; to other MRU faculty members and administrative staff of the university; and/or to faculty members or students at another university with whom the faculty member is engaged in collaborative research. As well, distribution should never occur to an open Internet website or other public forum.


Performing a musical work (sheet music) or a sound recording in class 

The MRU Fair Dealing Guidelines do not apply to playing a sound recording or off of sheet music in class. If MRU employees wish to do so without the copyright holder's permission, they must comply with either section 29.5 or section 32.2(3) of the Copyright Act. Under these provisions, you or you or your students may play a sound recording or perform a musical work in class if done for educational purposes. 

Note: These educational user rights both allow for the performance of an entire musical work and sound recording (i.e. you are not limited to a "short excerpt" - up to 10% - of the musical work).


Remember that license agreements override user rights 

Some e-versions of musical works and sound recordings can only be accessed because MRU (via its e-licenses) has entered into binding user agreements that provide access to digital versions of musical works and sound recordings. Many license agreements limit how such e-versions may be copied, distributed or performed - eve if they claim that you 'own' the work.

In addition your own personal licenses which give you access to musical works or sound performances (e.g. Apple Music or Spotify) only allow you to play music in your home (not in a classroom setting). These contracts override  user rights under the Copyright Act, meaning that neither you nor your students may use or perform works obtained through subscription services .


Can I play copyrighted music in public or at my event?

As discussed above, only copyright holders have the right to play their copyrighted music in public (though you can play music for educational purposes in class). You are free to play music in your home, in your office, or for a small group of friends or co-workers, as this is not considered to be "public."

If you want to use music for non-educational purposes (e.g. as background music at a conference, display, or for your fitness class) you must obtain a public performance license from the copyright collective SOCAN and, if recorded music is used, Re:Sound. MRU pays background music fees for recorded music use on many parts of campus, but if you are in doubt, please contact the Copyright Advisor at well in advance of your event to secure appropriate licensing for events outside of regular classes.


Adding music to a movie or video

There are two rights to every song. First there is the person who wrote the song (who holds the publishing rights, also known as the "sync” rights) and second the artist who recorded it (who holds the “master” rights). To use a piece of music you must get permission from both rights holders. In order to determine who owns the rights to a recorded song, there are various websites you may use such as and Once you’ve determined who owns the publishing and master rights, you have to contact each copyright owner separately and ask for permission to use the song. Note that this process may become complex where there is more than one songwriter. 

Note: If you or your students are producing a non-commercial work, it may be that they can create and publicly post the work under the User Generated Content right.

Library reserves

Can the Library scan print articles or book chapters and put them on reserve for my class?

Yes, so long as the copy is in compliance with copyright law. In some cases, if permission is required, it can take from 1 to 10 weeks and the copyright owner may require a fee.


Is there anything I need to be aware of when submitting items for reserves?

  • Whenever possible the Library will place an original copy of an item on reserve;
  • Library reserve staff may provide permalinks to any e-resources the Library has already purchased, which may then be posted to Blackboard;
  • If necessary, the Library may your or ask the Copyright Advisor to seek permission 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. For more information, go to the Library's Set Up Course Reserves web page.


Can I put a textbook for my course on reserve?

Yes, original works can be placed on reserve. 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 e-resources (such as journal articles or chapters of e-books) may be restricted by the terms of a license agreement.


Can I still put something I own on reserve?

Yes. The Library is happy to accept your personal copies. No photocopied materials (book chapters, articles etc.) may be placed on reserve without obtaining permission or a license. In some circumstances, the Library may purchase original works to place on reserve; please speak to Library reserve staff about such purchases.


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. We only offer physical reserve items.

Library e-resources

What are licenses for e-resources?

The MRU Library contracts with a variety of vendors and publishers to provide access to millions of e-resources (databases, e-journals, e-books, etc.). These licenses stipulate how and by whom an e-resource may be used. If the terms of a MRU e-resource license are violated, publishers may temporarily suspend access for the entire MRU community. If you have questions about a particular electronic resource or MRU digital license, please contact your subject librarian or the MRU Copyright Advisor at


Why should I check the terms of a license agreement for each resource I want to use?

Some of MRU's e-licenses grant a wide range of rights, and some only grant a narrow range. Each vendor and publisher sets use restrictions on their materials. Therefore, it is not possible to make general statements about the uses of e-resources - rather, it is necessary to check the terms of the particular resource you want to use and see if the license allows that particular use.

This is because e-licenses typically override user rights under the Copyright Act.  Fortunately, since we pay for access to these resources, the terms are often much better than those available under user rights, so you are strongly encouraged to always first check to see if you can obtain a particular resource through the Library.


What about e-books and other electronic resources?

E-books and other e-resources are also subject to the terms of license agreements. These terms can vary widely, so it is best to examine the terms of use for each book on its access page.


Can I hyperlink to the e-resource (so my students can access it themselves)?

Yes! In general, the best way to share journal articles, book chapters and other online content with your students is to provide them with a link to a library resource. That way, students can download, read, and make a copy of the item for their own personal use, which does not infringe copyright. E-resources already subscribed to by the Library, or freely available on the web, may be linked to in Blackboard. This method creates stable links that allow students to access library-licensed electronic resources on and off campus. Check out the permalinks section for help.

Recording in class

Can I record and distribute my lectures?

You may record your lectures, either as video-recordings or voice-over PowerPoints, and post them to Blackboard or email them to your students. If a lecture contains third party works, the use of that material must comply with copyright law (this may mean that you have to redact or obscure some works such as images from the recording). You may be able to leave in amounts of third party works if they fall under fair dealing.

Note: It is permissible to rely on fair dealing to record a lecture for the purposes of delivering MRU courses online through a secure learning management system such as Blackboard. An alternative to this application of general fair dealing described above, is the specific exception for third party owned copyrighted material included in a recorded lesson. This is known as the Communicating Lessons by Telecommunication right. For this to apply, the institution and the student must comply with several very important, and limiting, conditions, the most important of which is that the student and MRU must destroy all recordings of the lesson within 30 days after the day on which the students enrolled in the course have received their final course evaluation. 


Student recording & distribution

There are many factors that affect the recording of lectures, including FOIP, privacy, and human rights considerations, not to mention copyright. This will have to be determined on a case-by-case basis, but if you are unsure, best practice is to request students not to record nor distribute recordings of your lectures.

Streaming video from the library

The Riddell Library and Learning Centre offers 9 databases that stream videos, each with its own terms of use (though all MRU employees may use videos both personally and for teaching purpoes in class):

  1. Academic Video Online: Premium - Canada - More than 62,000 streaming videos spanning a wide range of subjects.
  2. Campus (National Film Board) The National Film Board CAMPUS offers hundreds of films including documentaries, interviews, animated films and more on their website. Users can create free accounts to create playlists and access teaching resources.
  3. CBC Curio and News in Review - provides streaming access to content from CBC and Radio-Canada including documentaries from television and radio, news reports, archival material, stock shots and more. Also includes the News in Review channel covering 23 years of current-event series News in Review.
  4. Ethnographic Video Online: Volume 1 (North America) - A comprehensive anthropological resource containing over 1,300 hours of streaming video, including ethnographic films, documentaries, select feature films, and previously unpublished fieldwork. A valuable resource for the study of human culture, behavior and society around the world.
  5. Films on Demand - Contains over 6000 streaming videos in Humanities, Social Sciences, Business, Economics, Science, Mathematics, Health, and Medicine. Licensed for classroom use.
  6. JoVE - Basic Methods in Cellular and Molecular Biology - This Science Education video collection demonstrates how to execute basic techniques commonly used in cellular and molecular biology. Each video shows practical applications of the techniques and other complementary skills.
  7. JoVE - General Laboratory Techniques - This premier collection exhibits how to use standard pieces of laboratory equipment essential in many experiments, as well as how to perform basic laboratory functions. Each video allows you to view practical applications of the technique and other complementary skills.
  8. Kanopy PDA - Canada - A collection of streaming videos covering a wide range of subject areas.
  9. Sage Research Methods Online - a web-based research methods tool that covers various methodologies.
  10. Universal Library - Provides access to downloadable video, audio, text, and multimedia in the public domain.
  11. Videatives (Early Education Videos) - More than 200 interactive videos on early childhood learning.


Permalinks are the safest and easiest way to share journal articles, book chapters and other online content with your students. Providing a link to one of MRU library's e-resources is a copyright-friendly way to enable students to make use of an item for individual study. Just make sure that you open a new tab or window as your link's target. 

To build a permalink on your Blackboard site, please visit the following website:

Legal notice

Legal Notice: The advice, information, and opinions on this LibGuide are not intended to constitute nor do they replace legal advice and they do not create an attorney-client relationship. Please consult with a lawyer for legal matters.