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Copyright: Faculty FAQ

Faculty FAQ

Frequently asked questions about copyright from faculty, including best practices in and out of the classroom, the library’s role, and course packs.


UNBC Library (print reserve, interlibrary loan)

Course Packs

Contacts and Resources


The Copyright Act sets out the rights and obligations that apply to teaching activities. These are explained in UNBC’s Copyright Guidelines for UNBC Faculty, Staff and Students.

In context of teaching, you should pay particular attention to the following:

It is also important to consider the alternatives to copying and distributing works to your students. For example, consider linking to materials available through one of UNBC’s Digital Resources.

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2. Can I include other people’s images and materials in my PowerPoint presentations? What if I want to provide copies of the presentation to my students?

If the images or materials are “short excerpts”:

If the images or materials are “short excerpts” (as defined in the University of Northern British Columbia Fair Dealing Guidelines) it would be fair dealing to include those images or materials in a PowerPoint presentation and to distribute that presentation to your students, whether electronically (by email or posting on a learning management system) or in person via a handout.

If the images or materials are longer than “short excerpts”:

If the images or materials are longer than “short excerpts,” section 29.4 of the Copyright Act permits you to make copies of works to display in a classroom presentation on UNBC premises for educational and training purposes, provided that the work is not already available in a commercial format in the Canadian market within a reasonable time and for a reasonable price, in a medium appropriate for educational or training purposes.

You may record the lecture, either as a video recording or “voice-over” PowerPoint and post the recording onto UNBC’s secure learning management system. This is permissible under section 30.01 of the Copyright Act, referred to as the “lessons exception.” See the Copyright Guidelines for UNBC Faculty, Staff and Students.

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3. I’ve come across a recent journal article and/or several pages from a book that I want to distribute to my students. How can I distribute these materials to my students?

You may make copies of works to hand out to each student in your classroom or post copies of such works into UNBC’s secure learning management system, if they qualify as “short excerpts” (as defined in the University of Northern British Columbia Fair Dealing Guidelines) or if the license allows it. That said, you are strongly encouraged to use proxy links to provide access to Library e-resources, such as full-text journal articles. If you want to provide excerpts from a book and would like the library to see if an ebook is available for purchase, please contact your subject librarian.

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4. What if a book I want to copy is out of print?

Copyright protection lasts for 70 years after the death of the author(s) of the work. Therefore, a book that is out of print may nonetheless be protected by copyright.

Fair dealing for educational use allows making copies of “short excerpts,” as explained in the University of Northern British Columbia Fair Dealing Guidelines.

If more than a short excerpt is required, please contact the Copyright Office for assistance.

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5. Can I play music in class?

If your goal is to achieve an educational or training purpose, then yes, so long as you follow the following rules (which are derived from section 29.5 of the Copyright Act):

  • you are faculty, staff or such other person that is acting under the authority of UNBC;
  • the class is taking place on UNBC premises;
  • the audience is primarily students in your class;
  • the sound recording is not an infringing copy (e.g. pirated) or the person responsible for the performance has no reasonable grounds to believe that it is an infringing copy; and
  • you do not circumvent a digital lock

If your purpose is non-educational (e.g. for background music or for a social event), you will need a licence (normally issued by SOCAN or Re:Sound). 

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6. Can I show a movie to my class?

The library currently subscribes to several databases that include videos that may be shown/assigned to classes and students, including KanopyAcademic Video Online (Alexander Street Press), and the National Film Board collections. Additional Canadian content can be found on CBC Gem, which provides free access to content for Canadians, though students may need to create personal accounts. These films/shows may not be accessible from outside of Canada. 

If the film is not in one of UNBC Library's digital collections, the following applies:

If your goal is to achieve an educational or training purpose, then yes, so long as you follow the following rules (which are derived from section 29.5 of the Copyright Act):

  • you are faculty, staff or such other person that is acting under the authority of UNBC;
  • the class is taking place on UNBC premises;
  • the audience is primarily students in your class;
  • the copy of the movie is not an infringing copy (e.g. pirated) or the person responsible for the performance has no reasonable grounds to believe that it is an infringing copy; and
  • you do not circumvent a digital lock

If your purpose is non-educational (e.g. a social event), the provisions described above do not apply, and you will need a license to show the film. However, UNBC’s special institutional feature film licences allow those feature films covered by a license to be shown in public spaces on campus for entertainment purposes. To determine if a feature film is covered by one of the licences, search the online catalogues of the following two film distributors:

Criterion Pictures

Please note that in order to qualify for use pursuant to either of the licences, a film screening must be free to attend, and the audience must consist primarily of current UNBC faculty, staff, or students. Also note that as of 2020, movies shown under the Audio-Cine license must by shown indoors. The license does not cover outdoor viewings.

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7. Can I play a video I found on the internet for my class?

If your goal is to achieve an educational or training purpose, then yes, so long as you follow 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 (the notice has to be more than just a copyright symbol);
  • 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.

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8. What if I have a DVD but want to show the film online?

Though DVDs can be shown in class under Fair Dealing, converting a DVD to a streaming video format breaks a digital lock and is against Canadian Copyright law. Please contact the Copyright Office about procuring a license or permission to copy the DVD into Kaltura, or contact your subject librarian about purchasing a digital copy for the library (if available). Streaming rights for feature films from major studios are usually not available to libraries, in which case, students will need to purchase access to the video through a commercial streaming platform, such as Netflix or iTunes.

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9. 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, UNBC does not have an institutional Netflix account. Therefore, your use of Netflix must comply with the Terms of Use you agreed to when you signed up for the service.

The rights you may otherwise have had, for example the educational exception described in FAQ 2.6 (above), do not apply if they are inconsistent with the Netflix Terms of Use. If you have questions or concerns please contact the Copyright Office.

We recommend that you check YouTube, or any other publicly accessible site, to see if the clip you wish to use is legitimately available. Other options include:

  • Searching the UNBC Library’s catalogue to see if the title is in the UNBC Library collection
  • Determining whether the title falls under the University’s institutional film licences (see FAQ 2.6 above)
  • Purchasing or borrowing a physical commercial copy of the video (such as VHS, DVD or Blu-Ray)

Students may be required to subscribe to Netflix and access the film on their own, but please be aware that distance students living in countries outside Canada will have access to different films and may not have access to the film(s) assigned in class.

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10. Are there any databases of copyrighted materials that I can use for free without worrying about copyright?

Generally, no.

However, see FAQs above to determine how copyrighted materials can be used for educational or training purposes in the classroom.

Also, works that are made available under a Creative Commons license are generally available for free, subject to certain conditions specified in the licence, such as non-commercial use only and acknowledgment of the author. For Creative Commons materials, visit the Creative Commons website for more information or check out their content directories which list audio, video, image and text materials available under Creative Commons licensing. 

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11. Is there a difference between posting something on my own website versus posting something on UNBC’s learning management system?

Generally, yes.

Unless you password-protect your website, it is publicly accessible, in the sense that anyone may visit it, not just your students. As a result, when you post material onto your site, it is being communicated to an unlimited audience.

UNBC’s learning management system is a password-protected, secure website. Access to the course materials you post to your course site in the LMS is restricted to the students registered in that course.

This limited distribution is one of the considerations in determining how fair dealing and the educational exceptions set out in the Copyright Act apply at UNBC (each of these is described above). Also, the distribution of materials obtained through one of UNBC’s digital licences may be restricted to learning management systems.
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Yes, if you have permission from the copyright holder to do so.

If you wish to distribute only a “short excerpt” of the work and you’re in compliance with the University of Northern British Columbia Fair Dealing Guidelines, you may use email to distribute the excerpt to your students.

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13. What is a Digital Lock?

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 controls or restricts the access to or copying of a work (for example, password protection). For more information on digital locks, please see the Digital Locks info page.

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14. May I post a PDF of a journal article I obtained through the library’s e-journals, or a book chapter, to UNBC’s learning management system for my students to read?

Posting a single article from a periodical publication or a book chapter to UNBC’s secure learning management system may be permitted under the University of Northern British Columbia Fair Dealing Guidelines, unless this is not allowed under the terms of UNBC’s digital licence for the specific e-journal or e-book provided by the UNBC Library. Please contact for assistance to confirm whether the terms of the UNBC digital licence allow this posting.

You are strongly encouraged to post a direct link to the work, instead of a copy of the article. In the Library’s experience, this is the best way for students to access the most recent version of an article. It is common for publishers to make corrections or changes, such as adding supplementary material, to articles after initial publication. As an added benefit, a hyperlink to the article allows the UNBC Library to track use and obtain data about the importance of a particular journal to the campus.

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15. How do I create a Persistent URL to online resources?

PURLs, or Persistent URLs are links to web pages that remain stable over time. Not all URLs are permanent – some are “session-based.” These will not work after you log-off, navigate away from the page, and/or if you click them several hours later. The Creating Permanent Links section on the UNBC Copyright: Faculty Resources page provides information on identifying and creating PURLs for library resources.

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16. 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 my UNBC learning management system on the last day of class, are these considered to be separate instances of “fair dealing”?

It depends on the cumulative amount you have copied.

The University of Northern British Columbia Fair Dealing Guidelines define what a “short excerpt” is. The limit applies to all copies made from a particular work, including various editions of a work.

So, if you copy one page from a 100-page book on the first day of class, and two pages from the same book on the last day of class, you are within the 10% permitted under the Fair Dealing Requirements.

Similarly, if you copy five pages from edition 1 of a 100-page book, and later copy six pages from edition 2 of the same book, then this exceeds the 10% permitted under the Fair Dealing Requirements. For more information, please see the University of Northern British Columbia Fair Dealing Guidelines or contact the Copyright Office for assistance.

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Generally no, but you should check the website’s “Terms of Use” section to confirm whether or not it has any specific linking prohibitions.

In addition, some of UNBC’s Digital Licenses contain linking prohibitions. Please check the terms and conditions of the journal/database or contact the Copyright Office if you have questions or concerns.

If there are no restrictions on linking, you may link to the website. 
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18. May I post examples of my students’ work on UNBC’s learning management system?

Only if you have obtained the student’s 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, or that such materials are in the public domain, or that the use of the materials falls within the University of Northern British Columbia Fair Dealing Guidelines. It is a good practice to ask students in advance whether they consent to have their work posted onto UNBC’s learning management system and keep written records of the permissions given. Please contact the Copyright Office at for assistance.

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19. Can students include copyrighted materials in their assignments and presentations?

Generally, yes.

The student can obtain the copyright owner’s consent (which may be granted by way of a Creative Commons license, or one of UNBC’s Digital Licenses), or the materials may be used if their use qualifies as fair dealing.

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20. I have become aware that material from my course has been loaded onto non-UNBC websites without my authorisation or approval. What can I do about this?

Some UNBC instructors have become aware of their lecture notes, Power Point presentations, tests and other classroom content being posted to external websites that claim to be study aids for students. Prominent among these sites is Course Hero. Material posted to Course Hero without authorisation is an infringement of copyright. UNBC policy clearly states that content created by instructors is the intellectual property of the individual. It is therefore the right and responsibility of instructors to monitor their copyrights.

Where material found on the website has been posted by a student, he or she may be in violation of articles 5.2.6.ii and 5.2.12 of the Academic and Non-Academic Conduct – Students Policy.

In the United States the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) requires that hosting websites remove infringing content from the site upon notification from the copyright owner (or their agent). Notification must contain specific information about the content, the owner and the presence of the content on the site. You can use the sample takedown notice below the FAQ as a template. Instructors need to make sure that they are indeed the owners of the copyrighted materials they are requesting be taken down.

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UNBC Library (print reserve, interlibrary loan)

21. Can the Library put a copy of my textbook on eReserve?

Licenses for electronic copies of textbooks are normally not sold to libraries, at least in their most current iteration. This is true for all major textbooks providers. The following publishers are examples of those that will not allow the Library to purchase an e-textbook version of their publications:

  • Pearson
  • Cengage
  • Houghton
  • McGraw Hill
  • Oxford University Press Canada (Textbook Division)
  • Elsevier imprints (especially in veterinary and health science) such as:
    • Elsevier Health Science
    • Mosby
    • Saunders
  • Thieme

This means the library generally cannot put a digital copy of textbooks on eReserve. Texts that are not classified as traditional textbooks have a greater chance of being available for purchase by academic institutions. If you have a book you would like electronic access to for a class, please contact your subject librarian about purchasing a digital copy for the library (if available). 

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The Library can create a course reserve record for a particular e-journal or e-book that is specific to your course, but not at the article or chapter level. Courses are searchable via the Course Reserves tab on the Library's home page. Alternatively, the library can create persistent links to full-text resources (including articles) for you to provide to your students in the LRM or on course syllabi. 

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23. Can I just link to the electronic journal article myself on my UNBC learning management system?

Yes, you are free to create a direct link yourself, although you might want to consider reasons to have the Library do it for you. As well as saving you time, Library staff will prepare a “persistent” URL. The publisher’s URL for many articles can change from day to day; a persistent URL will ensure that your students get to the right articles quickly and without frustration. Please note that in rare cases (such as Harvard Business Review), our license does not allow for linking to articles - in cases such like this, a link to the database or journal is preferred. 

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24. Can the Library scan printed articles or book chapters for my class?

Yes, so long as the copy is in compliance with copyright law. In many cases, works will be covered by fair dealing and may be scanned and posted without the need to obtain permission. Where permission is required, this process can take from 1 to 8 weeks and the copyright owner may require a fee.

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25. Can I get the UNBC Library to send me electronic copies of articles using the interlibrary loan service?

You may use copies received through Interlibrary loan services in course packs or in the LMS. Copyright for interlibrary loaned items may be subject to a fee and other requirements if requests don't fall within University of Northern British Columbia Fair Dealing Guidelines. To make an interlibrary loan request, use the Interlibrary Loan request form.
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26. What are licences for electronic resources?

The UNBC Library contracts with a variety of vendors and publishers to provide access to hundreds of thousands of electronic resources (databases, e-journals, e-books, etc.). These licences stipulate how and by whom an electronic resource may be used. Please check the Terms & Conditions on General Search records, Terms & Conditions of Use on Journal records and the terms on Database records. 

Example of General Search Record

Example of General Search to find Terms and Conditions

Example of Journal Record

Example of journal with Terms & Conditions link circled.

Example of Database Record

Example of a Database with Terms & Conditions

If the terms of a UNBC electronic resources licence are violated by a library user, publishers may temporarily suspend access for the entire UNBC community. In cases where a resolution cannot be reached, the publisher may cancel the licence or impose additional restrictions.

If you have questions about a particular electronic resource or UNBC digital licence, please contact the Library Technical Assistant - eResources / 250-960-6455.

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27. 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.

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Course Packs

28. What is a course pack? Can I use a course pack in my course?

A course pack is a compilation of works from one or more sources. The UNBC Bookstore can assist you in producing a course pack. The cost of course packs will vary depending on fees charged by copyright holders (where required), 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. The UNBC Copyright Office can procure licenses for you. Please allow at least two months for copyright clearance if licenses are required.   

Please contact the Bookstore for more information on how to create a course pack, as well as important deadlines.

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29. Do I need to obtain permission to use copyrighted material in my course packs?

If you have engaged the UNBC Bookstore to produce the course pack, Bookstore staff will check with the Copyright Office that works included in your course pack are in compliance with copyright laws. There are three ways copyrighted material will be included in a coursepack:

  • they are covered by an electronic resources licence, if the terms of the UNBC digital licenses permit the making of copies for inclusion in course packs;
  • fair dealing, if the copy requested falls within UNBC’s Fair Dealing Requirements; or
  • express permission from the copyright holder, or their representative.

Express permission from the copyright holder, or their representative will likely be necessary.

If you have any questions about copyrighted materials you would like to include in a coursepack, please email the UNBC Bookstore or Copyright Office.

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30. If I am the creator/author of a work, can I use the work in a course pack?

If you hold copyright then you have the authority to grant permission for the use of the work (in a course pack, handout etc.) unless you have assigned your copyright to a publisher or any other party.

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Any job submitted for printing must be checked for copyright compliance. If you have permission to copy the item from the copyright owner, please provide documentation for the permission when submitting your order. If you do not have permission, the UNBC Bookstore staff will request permission if required.

There are some special cases, such as reproducing entire out-of-print books or rare/fragile materials, which may take longer for copyright compliance clearance. If you have any questions regarding copyrighted materials to be included in a printing job, please email the Copyright Office.

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32. If I have permission to put something on UNBC’s learning management system, does this mean I can also include it in my custom course packs?

Not necessarily. It depends on what permission you are relying upon.

If the copy you’ve placed on the LMS is a short excerpt (as defined in the University of Northern British Columbia Fair Dealing Guidelines), the same short excerpt may be made available to students in a course pack, and/or a class handout. Please consult the University of Northern British Columbia Fair Dealing Guidelines for further information and important restrictions.

If you’ve placed a copy on the LMS pursuant to the terms of an electronic resources license, then you must confirm that the terms of the license permit using the work in a course pack. Not all licenses allow this.

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Contacts and Resources

See the Copyright Queries on the Copyright at UNBC webpage.

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Yes. The UNBC Copyright Office obtains and tracks course-related copyright permissions and transactional licenses for faculty and instructors. For other uses, you may obtain permission yourself by simply emailing or writing a letter to the copyright owner or email for assistance.

If the copyright owner agrees to our request, the permission to copy the work will generally come by way of a one-off transaction license agreement between UNBC and the copyright owner. There is no obligation for the copyright holder to provide consent and the copyright holder may require payment of a transactional license fee or decide not to provide consent. UNBC has allocated some resources to assist with the payment of transactional fees and permissions services for course readings but these resources are limited.

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35. How can I get more information about copyright?

Key UNBC copyright resources are posted on this website. See in particular:

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Text for many of the above FAQs was originally adapted from Copyright at UBC Faculty FAQ under a Creative Commons CC BY-SA 4.0 Licence. UNBC’s Faculty FAQs are licensed under a Creative Commons CC BY-SA 4.0 Licence.

Legal Disclaimer

The UNBC Copyright Office makes every effort to provide accurate copyright information for educational purposes. This information is not to be construed as legal advice and should not be relied upon in that regard.