Intellectual Property and Copyright

Intellectual Property and Copyright FAQ's

What resources can I share with my students?

If your students are completing assignments where they integrate third party material, such as videos and pictures, consider sharing and discussing the following resource by Copyright@Waterloo: Copyright Basics: Using Third Party Material in Assignments (PDF). This resource reviews finding legal sources, copyright exceptions, open materials, crediting sources, and contact information for questions.

Students often upload and share course materials without your permission. To deter this, it is important to specify what is and is not allowed to be shared outside of the classrooms. Consider sharing and discussing the following resource by Copyright@Waterloo: Copyright Basics for Academic Integrity: Using Course Resources (PDF). This resource reviews policies and rules on sharing course materials, and contact information for support. 

How can I find if my materials have been posted online? 

Using Google, do a search of your course and scroll through the results. Materials are often posted on popular note-sharing and answer sharing platforms. Common searches that will bring up results include variations of the following:

  • Your course code (e.g., ARTS 101, University of Waterloo )
  • Your course name and term (e.g., ARTS 101, Spring 2021, University of Waterloo)
  • Your course name and a specific assessment (e.g., ARTS 101 research assignment, University of Waterloo)

How do I get my materials taken down from note-sharing platforms?

Detailed instructions for the removal process are listed on each note-sharing site. Most note-sharing platforms have a similar process for submitting copyright violation claims. Typically, the intellectual property owner must be the one who submits the claim. The claim usually involves identifying the URL of the content in violation and providing your contact information. 

Instructors can contact the following offices with questions:

Are there any other tips to deter students from sharing my course resources?

To encourage students to avoid IP violations (e.g., students posting course materials or intellectual property on note-sharing platforms), have a conversation with your students about what can and cannot be shared beyond the classroom for each assessment. Clearly indicate that students need your explicit permission before sharing any course materials or intellectual property. Encourage them to alert you if they see any course materials online. 

Instructors can use the suggested boilerplate text below for course outlines

(Note: this text may be edited to suit individual needs – for assistance please contact the Secretariat):

Intellectual Property

Students should be aware that this course contains the intellectual property of their instructor, TA, and/or the University of Waterloo. 

Intellectual property includes items such as:

  • Lecture content, spoken and written (and any audio/video recording thereof);

  • Lecture handouts, presentations, and other materials prepared for the course (e.g., PowerPoint slides);

  • Questions or solution sets from various types of assessments (e.g., assignments, quizzes, tests, final exams); and

  • Work protected by copyright (e.g., any work authored by the instructor or TA or used by the instructor or TA with permission of the copyright owner).

Course materials and the intellectual property contained therein, are used to enhance a student’s educational experience. However, sharing this intellectual property without the intellectual property owner’s permission is a violation of intellectual property rights.  For this reason, it is necessary to ask the instructor, TA and/or the University of Waterloo for permission before uploading and sharing the intellectual property of others online (e.g., to an online repository).

Permission from an instructor, TA or the University is also necessary before sharing the intellectual property of others from completed courses with students taking the same/similar courses in subsequent terms/years.  In many cases, instructors might be happy to allow distribution of certain materials. However, doing so without expressed permission is considered a violation of intellectual property rights.

Please alert the instructor if you become aware of intellectual property belonging to others (past or present) circulating, either through the student body or online. The intellectual property rights owner deserves to know (and may have already given their consent).

A student with an approved accommodation with AccessAbility Services (AAS) wants to record a lecture. Is this allowed?

A lecture is the intellectual property of the instructor. The instructor has discretion as to whether their lecture is recorded. If a student wants to record or otherwise reproduce the instructor’s intellectual property, including a lecture, they must obtain the instructor’s consent.

However, the University is required to uphold a student’s accommodation plan as communicated by AccessAbility Services. AccessAbility Services will notify an Instructor via the Faculty Notification Letter (email) when there is a duty to accommodate a specific student by enabling them to capture the course content in alternate means (i.e., audio-recording lecture for personal use). Instructors who receive such notification from AccessAbility Services should enable the accommodation unless doing so would cause undue hardship.  If an instructor is concerned that allowing recording as part of an accommodation would cause undue hardship, then the Instructor is to contact AccessAbility Services directly, following the University’s following the University’s accommodation dispute process.

It is critical that students are appropriately accommodated and that processes are followed.

Visual Plagiarism

Best Practices: Preventing Visual Plagiarism (PDF) is a helpful resource full of tips for instructors that was developed by Toronto Metropolitan University (TMU).

Academic Integrity in the Creative Arts (PDF) guide developed by the Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency (TEQSA) in Australia. TEQSA also has many other academic integrity resources.