Intellectual Property and Copyright

Uploading or sharing your resources from your course, such as course handouts, powerpoints, or videos, could be an academic offence. Before you share course resources, review Copyright Basics for Academic Integrity: Using Course Resources, a resource by Copyright@Waterloo.

Are you using third-party materials in your assignments, such as videos and pictures? Review Copyright Basics: Using Third Party Materials in Assignments, a resource by Copyright@Waterloo, to make sure you are not violating copyright. 


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 have an approved accommodation with AccessAbility Services (AAS). Am I allowed to record a lecture?

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 Instructors of all students who have an accommodation plan that specifically includes eligibility for capturing course content in alternate format (such as through audio-recording the lecture for personal use). It is expected that the instructor will consider and accept this 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, they will work directly with AccessAbility Services, following the University’s accommodation dispute process.

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).