Intellectual Property and Copyright

Your courses will have content that is the intellectual property of your instructor and/or the University of Waterloo. As a result, it is important to ask your instructor for permission before sharing course materials.


What is intellectual property?

Intellectual property (IP) refers to any product that the law protects from unauthorized use by others. This means that intellectual property cannot be used or shared without the owner's explicit permission. 

What are examples of intellectual property in my courses?

  • Spoken and written lecture content (including recorded videos)
  • Lecture handouts and presentations
  • Questions and solutions sets for assignments, quizzes, tests, and final exams

What is an intellectual property violation? 

An intellectual property violation occurs when IP is used or shared without the owner's permission. At the University of Waterloo, violating IP rights is an academic offense. Violations may include (but are not limited to):

  • Uploading course materials (e.g., assignments, lecture notes) to online repositories such as note-sharing platforms
  • Using course materials in third-party settings (e.g., in off-campus, third-party tutoring organizations) 

I want to share academic materials from my course with others (e.g., students who will subsequently be taking the course, or in an online repository). What should I do?

If you are sharing course materials beyond the classroom, you need to ask your instructor for explicit written permission first. "Obtaining, distributing, or receiving any confidential academic material without the express consent of the instructor" is an academic offence. Review Policy 71 for details. 

I've come across materials being used in a way that might violate intellectual property rights. What should I do?

If you suspect an IP violation, alert the instructor of the course or Legal and Immigration Services. The instructor deserves to know (and may have already given their permission).