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Faculty, Staff and Students Entering Relationships with External Organizations Offering Access to Course Materials

The purpose of these guidelines is to set out the parameters for consideration in dealing with organizations external to the University of Waterloo that make available teaching resources from the University of Waterloo.

Faculty, staff and students at the University of Waterloo sometimes engage, knowingly or unknowingly, with external organizations whose business practices do not align with institutional values. The University is particularly concerned about organizations that maintain repositories (hard copy or electronic files) of proprietary academic materials (e.g., lecture notes, tests, examinations, projects, solution sets, etc.).

Depending on the practice of these organizations, the intellectual property rights of the content creators/owners may be infringed and material use inconsistent with the University of Waterloo’s academic integrity policies.

Waterloo’s various institutional policies and practices support its long-standing commitment to academic integrity and creation of intellectual property. The following are relevant:

  1. Policy 71, Student Discipline, (Created – 1989, Revised – 2010) enshrines academic integrity as an institutional value.
  2. Policy 73, Intellectual Property Rights, (Created – 1997, Revised – 2000) formalizes the University’s tradition of ensuring that intellectual property rights rest with the creators, not the institution. This frequently cited policy is core to Waterloo’s commitment to entrepreneurship and innovation.
  3. The Office of Academic Integrity was created in 2008 to support the promotion of academic integrity across the institution and to ensure that all parties have access to the resources required to make decisions aligned with academic integrity.
  4. The University of Waterloo’s 2013 Strategic Plan reaffirms the institution’s commitment to protecting the intellectual property rights of creators/owners and promoting integrity as a core value of the campus community.

University of Waterloo’s position

Members of the University of Waterloo will not enter into relationships with organizations whose practices violate its institutional values and policies.

Accordingly, when organizations providing online repositories of course materials seek a business or other relationship with the institution, members of the University community will consider whether the following elements of the organization align with Waterloo’s institutional values and priorities:

  • The organization’s practices are consistent with the expectations of academic integrity as described in Policy 71 – Student Discipline.
  • The organization requires a contractual arrangement with the creator/owner of the intellectual property before commercialization of any course materials.
  • The organization has effective processes in place to identify the creator/owner of intellectual property in order to ensure the correct party is entering into a contractual arrangement.
  • The organization has effective processes in place to proactively identify copyright violations and take appropriate actions, including the immediate and permanent removal of materials from their repositories.
  • The organization does not rely on the creator/owners of the intellectual property to assert their rights before removing materials from their repositories.
  • The organization has effective processes in place to work with institutions to identify individuals who have submitted material without the permission of the creator/owner of the intellectual property.

The University of Waterloo may exert its right not to engage with any organization whose business model lacks one or more of the above processes. Actions can include:

  • Not permitting the organization to host events on University property.
  • Not permitting the organization to participate in University-sponsored or hosted activities, on or off campus.
  • Not permitting the organization to participate in on-campus job postings or recruiting activities,  such as working with Co-operative Education and Career Action, and not recognizing work experience gained at these organizations for co-operative education work term (or similar experiential education) credit.

Suggested boilerplate text for course outlines (may be edited to suit individual needs – for assistance please contact the Secretariat & Office of General Counsel):

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).

Relevant University Policies:

Policy 71 – Student Discipline

Policy 73 – Intellectual Property Rights

Developed in 2016 by the Associate Vice-President, Academic