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A Guide for Students & Instructors

Copyright Guidance for Transitioning your Course Online

Serving Student Access Needs As We

Rapidly Shift to Online Course and Exam Delivery: Copyright Considerations

This resource provides some quick tips for transitioning your course on the fly. As always, if you have questions or need assistance email the Copyright Advisor

Key points to remember:

  1. Most of the legal issues are the same whether instruction is in person or online.
  2. If it was okay to do in class, it is likely okay online – especially if online access is limited to the same enrolled students (e.g. Blackboard or emails to students).
  3. You can continue to apply Fair Dealing online, see the Copyright for the Digital Classroom: A Quick Guide below.


  • Use password-protected systems like Blackboard to make material available to students enrolled in your class.
  • Post in-class slides to Blackboard. Slides provided by textbook publishers can almost always be used, according to their Terms of Use.
  • The rules for print and electronic course reading materials in Blackboard are similar. Stick to the quick guide below, the Library’s electronic resources, or link out to legally uploaded content on the Internet. Legally uploaded means content that was clearly uploaded by the copyright owner or with their permission and that is not behind any form of login or password protection.
  • Contact MHC’s Copyright Advisor at to check license terms, and assess legality of content on the Internet, or if you need to use more than fair dealing permits.
  • Your Subject/Liaison Librarian may be able to help you find alternative content as the MHC Library has a large collection of online journals and e-books that can help support online learning. In fact, many content providers have recently increased access to a variety of materials to ensure broader access by campuses. The Copyright Advisor can also help you find openly licensed teaching materials like Open Educational Resources (OER).
  • Use phone apps like Genius Scan or Adobe Scan to easily scan to post print materials in Blackboard within the limits allowed by the Copyright Act (including fair dealing – see Copyright for the Digital Classroom below). 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 MHC Library has 12 databases that give access to streaming video 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.
  • Using copyrighted material in exams can be easy, as you can use Fair Dealing, see Copyright for the Digital Classroom below. If you need to use material beyond this, copyright exception s. 30.01 can also apply, contact the Copyirght Advisor if you need help to implement this copyright exception as there are rules that need to be followed to use it.


 This transitioning to online course delivery resource adapted for MHC from a previous adaptation by Mount Royal University and the Canadian Association of Research Libraries from material prepared by the Copyright Office, University of Minnesota document Copyright Services, Rapidly shifting your course from in-person to online. Unless otherwise noted, all content on the Copyright Information section of this site is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial License. We would like to acknowledge some contribution of adaptation language from University of Toronto Scholarly Communications & Copyright Office and Ryerson University Library.

Copyright for the Digital Classroom

Copyright for the Digital Classroom

A Quick Guide

MHC’s Copyright Compliance policy applies to classes taught in person and online equally. However, the use of materials online is nuanced in comparison to the physical classroom. Use this guide as a starting point when thinking about moving your course content online. 


[1] Image credit: photographyimages on