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This guide provides information to Capilano University employees and students regarding copyright, licence agreements, and related topics. This guide does not provide legal advice.

Copyright guidance for transitioning your course online

Pedagogical and technical issues may make the shift from in-person to online teaching a challenge but copyright concerns should not be a significant barrier!

Key points to remember:

  1. Most of the legal issues are the same in both contexts (online and in class).
  2. If it was okay to do in class, it is often okay to do online – especially when your online access is limited to the same enrolled students.
  3. You can continue to apply Fair Dealing.

Contact us at

General advice

  • Use university password-protected systems like to make material available to your students, and use supported eLearning tools to deliver lectures with copyrighted content.

  • Post your in-class slides to eLearn. Slides provided by textbook publishers can almost always be used, according to their Terms of Use.

  • Course readings rules for print and online posting to are similar. Either use Fair Dealing, the library collection, or link out to legally posted Internet content.

  • The Library can help you copyright check readings, create links to ebooks and journal articles, obtain access to content that is not currently available in digital format and obtain copyright permissions, as needed.

  • Your Liaison Librarian may be able to help you find alternative content, and the Library has a large collection of online journals and ebooks that can help support online learning. Your librarian can also help you find openly licensed teaching materials.

  • Use phone apps like Genius Scan or Adobe Scan to easily scan and post print materials within the limits allowed by Fair Dealing. Make scanned PDF files more accessible for your students by using an optical character recognition (OCR) online tool to convert "non-selectable" text files into more accessible versions.

  • Sharing audiovisual material like films and audio files is more complex. But remember you can still link to legally posted online content (from YouTube etc.). The Library has licensed audiovisual materials that you may link to. Standard commercial streaming options like Netflix, Crave or Disney Plus that students may also subscribe to can be an option – though some students may not have access to those services.

Recording yourself

In-lecture use of audio or video

Here, the differences between online and in-person teaching can be a bit more complex. Playing audio or video of legally-obtained physical media (music or audio visual materials like DVDs or CDs for example) during an in-person class session is permitted under Section 29.5 of the Copyright Act. However, that exemption generally doesn't cover playing the same media online.
If you can limit audio and video use for your course to relatively brief clips, you may be able to include those in lecture recordings or live-casts using our institution's fair dealing guidelines in the Copyright Act. Our Fair Dealing procedure allows you to use up to 10% of a copyrighted work to be distributed to students in your class only. 

Where to post your videos

There may be some practical differences in outcomes depending on where you post new course videos. You can also post videos within your eLearn. Capilano University uses a Canadian-hosted video streaming service called Kaltura. You and your students can both record and upload videos to your course site using Kaltura Capture. CTE has a playlist of instructional videos that will help you get started. 

If you already use services like YouTube to teach, remember to continue to be copyright compliant. Please note that it is more likely that videos posted on YouTube may encounter some automated copyright enforcement, such as a takedown notice, or disabling of included audio or video content. These automated enforcement tools are often incorrect when they flag audio, video, or images included in instructional videos. If you encounter something like this that you believe to be in error, you can contact for assistance.


Course readings and other resources

Hopefully, by mid-semester, your students have already gotten access to most assigned reading materials. As always the Library can help with getting things online - linking to Library's licensed resources, finding ebooks where available, and much more.

If you want to share additional materials with students as you revise instructional plans, or if you want students to share more resources with each other in an online discussion board, keep in mind some simple guidelines below.

It's always easiest to link!

Linking to publicly available online content like news websites, existing online videos, etc. is rarely a copyright issue (Better not to link to existing content that looks obviously infringing - Joe Schmoe's YouTube video of the entire "Avengers: Endgame" movie is probably not a good thing to link to). But linking to most YouTube videos, especially ones that allow sharing and embedding, should be fine. Linking to subscription content through the CapU Library is also a great option. Much of the library’s licensed content will have DOIs, PURLs, or other "permalink" or "persistent link" options, all of which should work even for off-campus users. 

Sharing copies and scanning

Making copies of new materials for students (by downloading and uploading files, or by scanning from physical documents) can present some copyright issues, but they're not different from those involved in deciding whether to share something online with your students when you are meeting in-person.

At CapU, faculty and instructors are encouraged to apply Fair dealing when they are making decisions about when they think they can make copies for students to post to eLearn. Fair dealing is an exception in the Copyright Act that allows you to share and use copyright-protected works for education purposes. Given our speedy transition from in-person classrooms to online ones, there is opportunity to make use of fair dealing to provide students access to educational materials. The Fair Dealing page on this guide outlines the criteria that you need to meet in order to make use of the fair dealing right in the Copyright Act

You are allowed to post short excerpts of copyright-protected works to eLearn. A short excerpt means:

  • up to 10% of a copyright-protected work (including a literary work, musical score, sound recording, and an audiovisual work)
  • one chapter from a book
  • a single article from a periodical
  • an entire artistic work (including a painting, print, photograph, diagram, drawing, map, chart, and plan) from a copyright-protected work containing other artistic works
  • an entire newspaper article or page
  • an entire single poem or musical score from a copyright-protected work containing other poems or musical scores
  • an entire entry from an encyclopedia, annotated bibliography, dictionary or similar reference work

Basically, you want to avoid posting a substantial part of a work. 

If you want to post a chapter or up to 10% of a course textbook to get your students through to the end of the term, fair dealing will definitely allow you to do so. Fair dealing looks at each individual item, rather than aggregate use, so fair dealing will allow you to use 10% of a course textbook, a journal article, and a poem from an anthology for your students.

There are other exceptions in the Copyright Act that allow you to display and perform copyright-protected works in the classroom. The Library is available to help faculty understand the relevant issues. Contact for more help.

Some app tools that you can use to easily digitize fair dealing amounts of material from your phone to post to eLearn are Genius ScanAdobe Scan. Please keep in mind that you can make any scanned PDF files more accessible for your students by using an online optical character recognition (OCR) online tool that can be used to convert "non-selectable" text files into machine-readable or recognized text.

When an instructor needs to make more copyrighted material available to students than the Fair Dealing Policy allows the Library can assist faculty in making these determinations and can also help you seek formal copyright permissions to provide copies to students – but there may be some issues with getting permissions on short timelines.

If you require digital copies of physical reserve materials, please contact the Library. Please note that even in this environment it will be difficult to obtain permission to scan and post entire books, particularly required textbooks. Please only identify critical selections from these works that you would like to use.  

An alternative way to find course materials is to a look online for free to use teaching resources. Just remember to attribute!

You can also search CapU Library which has a large collection of journals and many ebooks that can support on-line learning. Your librarians can also help!

Showing multimedia

Multimedia viewing/listening

Showing an entire movie or film or musical work online does represent more of a copyright issue than playing it in class - but there may be options for your students to access it independently online. CapU Library already has some licensed streaming content which you are welcome to use in your online course.

Standard commercial streaming options like commonly subscribed to services like Netflix, Crave, Disney Plus or Spotify and Apple Music that students may also subscribe to and can access using their own accounts is another option. (For exclusive content, the commercial services may be the only option.) Copyright exception Section 30.01 can also apply, contact if you need help to implement this copyright exception as there are rules that need to be followed to use it: such as copying without breaking TPMs; a clear notice to students; and you need to delete the copy in the course management system, or password protected location you posted the audiovisual material within 30 days after course evaluations have been issued.


This resource is adapted for Capilano University from the the University of Calgary's Copyright Guidance for Transitioning an In-Person Course Online, licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial License. This page is shared under the same license.