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Information about respecting Canadian copyright law in your work at Centennial.

Copyright Considerations for Teaching Online

This page has been created to provide copyright tips and resources to ease the transition from in-person to online teaching.

There are a lot of pedagogical and technical issues that make the shift from in-person to online teaching challenging, but copyright does not have to be a significant barrier. 

Most of the copyright considerations are the same in both contexts. 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.

Course Readings and Other Materials

Course Readings & Sharing Material

Textbooks may still be available for students to purchase a hardcopy, or a digital version. Note that publishers do not typically make library eBook versions available for traditional textbooks or workbooks.

Consider finding Library eResources and Open Educational Resources (OERs) that suit your weekly topics to remove textbook cost and access barriers for your students. These resources can be listed in an eReserves list for your course sections.

Remember: Digital works, works on the internet, or works that are free to read, are still protected by copyright. Think before you copy & paste, screen capture or download & re-post - do you have permission to do so?


It's always preferable to link!


Linking to subscription content through Centennial College Libraries is a great option - a lot of our subscription content will have "permalink" options, which will work even for off-campus users.

For assistance creating stable links to library content please view the library's Stable Link Guide.

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 itself - Rainbow87's YouTube video of the entire "Pride and Prejudice" movie is probably not a good thing to link to. Be sure to check that the account that uploaded the content is official and compliant. For example, TED should be the account that uploaded a TEDtalk.


Did you know? Embedding a YouTube video embed code in eCentennial is the same as linking! Learn more about linking or embedding YouTube videos.


Sharing copies


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.

It is not permitted to make copies of entire works - but most instructors don't do that! Copying short excerpts of works to share with students may be fair dealing.

For information see the Centennial College Fair Dealing Policy for Copyright-Protected Work.

Publisher Materials


Publishers may make supplementary materials available for an instructor to use in course where a textbook is adopted as a required text. Use these materials in accordance with the publisher's terms of use.

Written permission should be obtained if you wish to reproduce portions of the textbook in the course content. Get in touch with us if you need assistance with this process. 

Use the copyright permission request template (.doc) to write your request! 

eReserves and Copyright Compliance Support

Electronic Reserves Service

The library's eReserve service, an online course material list through eCentennial can help with getting things online. Linking to Libraries subscription resources, finding ebooks where available, and much more. Please note that service requests and timing will depend on service demands and the availability of our staff.

Learn more about eReserves here.

Copyright Compliance Support

Copyright compliance support is available through eReserve requests, or via email. If using email, please include the full citation information with links, where applicable, for the content you wish to be reviewed.

The Copyright Librarian may also be able to help you seek formal copyright permissions to provide copies to students - but there may be some issues with getting permissions on short timelines. 

Unsure if you can copy something? Contact us as we may be able to suggest alternative content that is already online through library subscriptions, publicly available or open content.

Media and Video Lectures

Recording video of yourself, live-casting lectures, etc:


Slide Images


Just as it is legal to show slides with images in class, it is generally legal to show them to students using live video conferencing or recorded videos, as long as your new course video is being shared through a password protected course website like eCentennial.  

As long as your new course video is being shared through secure course websites limited to the same enrolled students (eCentennial), the legal issues are fairly similar.

Many instructors routinely post a copy of their slides as a file for students to access after in-person course meetings. In any case, this should only be done when all material within the slides is copyright-compliant. 


Where to post your videos


There may be some practical differences in outcomes depending on where you post new course videos - on the college's MediaSite platform. It is easy to control access at the level of individual videos, and to connect to your course in eCentennial. 

You may post your videos on YouTube, but be aware that content may be okay to share with your classroom but not for the public. Put your videos in private mode if not to be shared widely.


Multimedia viewing/listening


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 your institution's fair dealing guidelines in the Copyright Act. At Centennial College, we have the Centennial College Fair Dealing Policy for Copyright-Protected Work that allows you to use up to 10% of a copyrighted work to be distributed to students in your class only. For media use longer than brief clips, you may need to have students independently access the content outside of your lecture videos. 

Centennial Libraries have licensed streaming video content, which you are welcome to use in your online course. Remember you can still link to content!


Note: The information obtained from or through this website is provided as guidelines for using works for educational purposes and is not intended to constitute legal advice.  The Copyright Services Librarian is not a lawyer or legal expert in copyright law and is able to provide a professional and not a legal opinion. A professional opinion is offered for information purposes only and should not be relied upon as legal advice.  

Contact us


General Inquiries:

Gosha Trzaski
Senior Library Technician
Progress Campus
416-289-5000 ext. 5406




Public Statement of Copyright Specialists

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