Skip to Main Content



Using copyrighted material in an assignment

You may copy portions from copyrighted works in order to illustrate a point that you are making in an assignment, a scholarly work, article, or blog posting (to name a few contexts) without the permission of the copyright owner. You are required to cite the source of what you use. In many cases, the use of such excerpts would be considered "insubstantial" and not create a copyright issue. In other cases, you may be able to rely on fair dealing (similar to fair use in the US) to support using larger portions without permission. 

The amount used should be for the purpose of illustrating your larger point and would not normally involve copying an entire work. There may be instances where a significant portion of a work or an entire work is used, such as with a photograph, where using a portion of the work would not be feasible. As long as the context of your use supports the amount used, there would be a strong case for it being fair dealing. The fair dealing exception does not change and still applies if your work is published or if fair dealing excerpts are used in a thesis or dissertation. A publisher may choose to get permission for extracts prior to publication. 

Multimedia assignments and presentations

Fair dealing will allow for the use of copyrighted works such as text, images, video and sound recordings in multimedia assignments and for you to share the assignment in class presentations or through Blackboard. The Non-Commercial User-Generated Content provision of the Copyright Act, described below, will ensure you can also share your assignment on websites open to the general public without infringing copyright, as long as the conditions of the provision are met. Video-based assignments, for example, can use existing web platforms such as YouTube or Vimeo. 

Recording lectures

Under copyright law, the instructor and any presenters in your class own copyright in the “performance” that is the lecture. Any copy, live stream or broadcast of the lecture would belong to the presenter. You should ask permission to record a lecture before doing so. Your class notes, assuming they are not a verbatim record of the lecture, belong to you.

Sharing lecture notes

Learning materials authored and provided by your instructor such as class notes and lecture PowerPoints have copyright that belongs to your instructor. You can share amounts appropriate under fair dealing, keeping in mind that the more you share and the broader the audience, the less fair the sharing will be. You should not share full copies of these works to a broad audence, such as by posting them to the web or offering them through class materials sharing sites, without the permission of the instructor.

Student portfolios

After graduation, you will likely want to use your portfolio in a job search. Some of your work may include parts of copyrighted works. The works in your portfolio can be used to showcase yourself under the non-commercial user-generated content provision as long as the use fulfils the conditions of the provision above. In most cases, this would be considered a non-commercial activity. 

This work is subject to a Creative Commons Attribution NonCommercial 4.0 International license. For exceptions, see the Library Copyright Statement.