Fair Dealing in the Classroom FAQ

Fair Dealing in the Classroom

Can I make copies of copyright-protected works to hand out to students in class? Can I include copies of another person’s images and materials in my PowerPoint presentations?

Yes. Under fair dealing you may make copies of another person’s works and hand them out to students enrolled in your course. Under fair dealing you may also include another person’s work, including images, in your PowerPoint presentations that you display to students enrolled in your course. In both cases, you must adhere to the amount that may be copied under fair dealing. Please see the Fair Dealing Guidelines for the copying limits.

Can I post copies of copyright-protected works to Dalhousie’s Learning management system (Brightspace)? Can I email copies to students enrolled in my courses?

Yes, you can do both if you adhere to the amount that may be copied under fair dealing. It is important to use Stable Links whenever possible. Please see the Fair Dealing Guidelines for the copyright limits.

Is there any difference between posting something on my own website versus posting something on Dalhousie's learning management system (Brightspace)?

Yes. Posting something on your own website means you are making the work available world-wide. Wide distribution tends towards the conclusion that the dealing is not “fair” and such uses may not be covered by any University licences. By contrast, Dalhousie's learning management systems (Brightspace) are password protected, secure websites accessible only by students enrolled in university courses. In some cases, posting material will be covered by one of the University’s electronic subscriptions. The key thing to remember is just because you may post a copyright-protected work to Brightspace doesn’t mean you have permission to post the work on your own personal website.

I’ve come across a recent journal article that I want to give out to my students. Can I photocopy it and hand it out to them?

Yes. The Fair Dealing Guidelines permits the copying of an entire journal article. Copies may be handed out to the students enrolled in your course or you may post a copy of the article to Brightspace.

May I upload a PDF of a journal article I obtained through the libraries’ e-journals to Dalhousie's learning management systems (Brightspace) for my students to read?

The licences for some e-journals provided by the Libraries allow instructors to upload articles into secure course management systems such as Dalhousie's Brightspace. While there may be good reason to upload articles to Brightspace, it is important to consider that doing so may mean that your students do not have the most recent version of the article. It is not unusual for publishers to make corrections or changes, such as adding supplementary material, to articles after initial publication. If such changes are made after a copy has been uploaded they will not be reflected in that copy. A direct link is the best way to ensure access to the most recent version of an article. Linking to the article also allows the Library to track use and obtain data about the importance of a particular journal to the campus.

You are free to create a direct link yourself, or you may prefer the Library to do this for you through the eReserves service. As well as saving you time, Libraries’ staff will ensure that authentication is taken care of so that your students don’t need to remember to log-in to the Library’s proxy server before going into Brightspace. They will also 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.

While uploading and linking to articles in Brightspace may be permitted by the licences, it is important to remember that licences generally do not permit you to upload to a website, or create links on a website, that is not part of the University’s secure network, and that is open to the world at large. None of the licences that the Library has with publishers allows for uploading to, or linking from, websites that allow access without authentication.

May I scan a print journal article or a book chapter into a PDF and post it on Dalhousie's learning management systems (Brightspace)?

As long as you adhere to the amounts that may be copied under fair dealing you may scan and post it on Brightspace. See the Fair Dealing Guidelines for the copying limits.

It’s important to note that fair dealing does not allow you to scan material and add it to a website unless that website is password protected and restricted to students enrolled in your course. If you want to scan a copyright protected work for inclusion on an open website, you will need to obtain permission from the copyright owner.

Can I play music in class?

Yes! The Copyright Act allows you to play a sound recording or live radio broadcasts in class as long as it is for educational purposes, not for profit, on University premises, before an audience consisting primarily of students. However, if you want to use music for non-educational purposes, for example, for background music at a conference or in an athletic facility, a licence must be obtained from the copyright collectives SOCAN and Re:Sound.

Can I play videos in class?

You may play videos in class in the following circumstances:

-You may show a film or other cinematographic work in the classroom as long as the work is not an infringing copy, the film or work was legally obtained, and you do not circumvent a digital lock to access the film or work.

-If you want to show a television news program in the classroom, under the Copyright Act, educational institutions (or those acting under their authority) may copy television news programs or news commentaries and play them in class.

-You may perform a work available through the Internet (e.g. YouTube)  except under the following circumstances:

  • The work is protected by digital locks preventing their performance
  • A clearly visible notice prohibiting educational use is posted on the website or on the work itself.
  • You have reason to believe that the work available on the Internet is in violation of the copyright owner’s rights.

Can students include copyrighted materials in their assignments and presentations?

Generally yes. Since fair dealing now includes education, students may include limited amounts of material in their assignments and presentations. See the Fair Dealing Policy for details about amounts allowable under fair dealing. 

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

Yes. There’s a wealth of material out there which is either in the public domain or available under what is known as Creative Commons licensing, which generally means the work is available for free, subject to certain limited conditions, such as non-commercial use only and acknowledgement of the author.

For Creative Commons materials, visit their website for more information or check out their content directories which list audio, video, image and text materials available under Creative Commons licensing. For public domain material, simply search on-line for ‘public domain’ and the type of material you’re interested in. Some useful sites include: Project Gutenberg (the largest collection of copyright-free books online) and Wikipedia, which has an entire page dedicated to public domain resources.

For other on-line materials, a recommended best practice is to check the website’s ‘Terms of Use’, or ‘Legal Notices’ section to confirm what conditions apply to use of the website’s material. In many cases, you may be able to use the material for free for non-commercial and educational purposes.

Is it okay to use images or other material from the Internet for educational purposes?

Generally, yes. The Copyright Act contains an exception that allows the use of material publically available on the Internet for educational purposes. However, it is subject to a few conditions.

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

Content on the web is copyrighted in the same way as print and other formats, even if there is no copyright symbol or notice. Linking directly to the web page containing the content you wish to use is almost always permissible, although you need to make sure the content you are linking to is not in itself infringing copyright. In addition, if the web page does not clearly identify the website and 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 is your own material or that your website is somehow affiliated with the other site. 

If you have reason to believe that the web site may contain content posted without the permission of the copyright owner, you should avoid linking to it. In addition, you must comply with web site statements indicating that permission is required before material is reproduced or that it may not be reproduced at all. Such statements are typically found in sections titled “terms of use” or something similar.

I gave a PowerPoint presentation in class which includes figures, charts, diagrams and other images from a textbook. Can I post it on Dalhousie's learning management system (Brightspace)? I’ll be sure to cite where the figures came from.

As long as you adhere to the amounts that may be copied under fair dealing you may post charts and diagrams from textbooks, or other works, on Brightspace. If for example, you wish to post multiple images from a book, you may do so as long as those images amount to no more than 10% of the book (see the Fair Dealing Guidelines). It’s important to note that if you wish to post such material to a website that website must be password protected or otherwise restricted to students enrolled in your course.

Please note that just because you acknowledge the author and source of a work doesn’t mean you won’t be liable for copyright infringement. Acknowledging the source is no defence if the way in which you’ve used the work is not permitted under the Copyright Act. So make sure you either fall within an exception or have the copyright owner’s permission.

Who do I talk to at Dalhousie if I have a copyright question?
Listed below are individuals with copyright expertise. They would be pleased to assist you.

Lachlan MacLeod, Copyright Services Coordinator
lachlan.macleod@dal.ca, 902-494-4346

Roger Gillis, Copyright & Humanities Librarian
roger.gillis@dal.ca, 902-494-2300

Adapted from Waterloo Copyright FAQ by University of Waterloo licenced under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 2.5 Canada Licence.
Questions or comments?

We'd be happy to help out. Please send us your copyright questions and comments.