Copyright Considerations for Student Assignments

Assignments containing copyrighted content (photos, videos, recordings, etc.) may well fall under fair dealing provisions of Canadian copyright law. But when student work is shared beyond the classroom or is distributed publicly or on the Web (like in an online portfolio), there can be legal risks. Citing sources does not always protect students from charges of copyright infringement. 

There have been cases at Sheridan of publishers demanding payment for copyrighted materials used in online student projects.

Here are some suggestions that faculty can share with students to comply with copyright: 

Use clearly indicated copyright free or friendly resources (e.g., Creative Commons licensed images)Don’t assume materials on the Internet are free to copy and reuse  
Use the “Creative Commons Licenses” filter in Google Images to search for copyright friendly images Don’t use an image found through a Google search without checking its copyright status
Refer to the terms of use on a fee-based or membership restricted material Don’t assume a material can be copied and further shared when it is purchased  
Request permission in writing to use a copyrighted material when a Creative Commons licensed option is not available Don’t rely on verbal consent or assume permission is given to copy and use 
Provide credit to all sources used (see the Cite Your Sources Guides)Don’t forget to credit copyright free images even if attribution is not required

Students should be aware that the best practices for copyright compliance mentioned above will also be useful to them in the workforce. 

For more information including what is copyright, where to find CC licensed images, and how to cite sources, students may refer to Sheridan Library’s Copyright Guide for Students and Guide on Finding Images: Creative Commons Licensed and Public Domain.

Sheridan Library also has a Copyright Guide for Faculty and Staff

Please contact your Liaison Librarian, Nicole Zhang or Sandra Shoufani, if you have a question related to finding and using resources for teaching and learning. Sam Cheng, Open Education and Copyright Librarian, is also available to answer questions related to copyright.    

*Photo of laptop and monitor by Domenico Loia is used under the Unsplash licence

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