Instructional Materials

Creating Teaching Tools

When creating instructional tools (course slides and presentations, instructor notes, manuals, guides, etc.), you may find it necessary to incorporate copyright content into your resources from time to time. The following provides information to consider and guidelines to follow.

For information about distributing or providing students with access to course readings or handouts, please see the Course Readings page.

Original Content

Any original content you author and own can be used as you like. If your material was published you may have assigned copyright ownership to the publisher so review terms for ownership and use information. In some cases, particularly for Journals, this information is available in the author submission guidelines. Alternatively, the following site maintains an extensive database that lists many Journal Publishers' use guidelines

Licensed or Subscription Content

You can use material that is pre-authorized for educational use under a licence, subscription, or other contractual permission. Review terms for conditions and/or limitations. Examples of licensed resources include:

  • Creative Commons licence;
  • online collections available for free (i.e. Open Access Repositories);
  • collections licensed for use by the University of Alberta (e.g. ARTstor digital image library);
  • personal or institutional subscriptions (e.g.;
  • Publisher issued licence that accompany the textbook you are using.(e.g. "for classroom use" means you have permission)

Online / Internet Content

Unless the site indicates otherwise, all material available online is subject to copyright under the Canadian Copyright Act. Permission to use material is often located in a website's fine print, such as the 'Terms of Use' or 'Legal Notices'. Check the terms for restrictions or limitations. In some cases, using content may fall within a 'fair dealing' user exception.

Copyright Expired - "Public Domain"

Once the general term of copyright in a work has expired, the material is no longer subject to protection under Canadian law and may be freely used. In Canada, the general term of copyright is life of the author plus an additional 50 years. Work through the online Canadian Public Domain Flowchart to help determine if a work is still in copyright or if it expired. When using non-original material adhere to acceptable academic citation practices.

Presentation Slides

Consult the University of Alberta Guidelines for Using Images

Display Slides Only

If you want to display copyright material only (no copies provided), you can do so under an exception in the Canadian Copyright Act. The Act states that it is not an infringement of copyright to project an work using an overhead projector or similar device (i.e. Power Point slide) for the purposes of education or training on the premises of an educational institution.

Display and Distribute Slides

The Canadian Copyright Act allows a "fair dealing" exception for the use of copyright material where the purpose is to support the discovery of new knowledge and truth. As part of this discovery, you can incorporate content (i.e. images, text) to support an investigation or close study. For example: a lecturer could evaluate or comment upon an content itself, or the underlying idea/theory represented.


  • Indicate the title of the work reproduced (if available), as well as the author and source for each portion.
  • All copying must comply with the amounts and limits defined in the University of Alberta Fair Dealing Guidelines, except as otherwise noted.
  • When using images, if you have a choice between high or low resolution options, choose the low resolution.
  • Exercise due diligence in ensuring the copy reproduced is made from a lawful source.

Affix Notice

Instructors who choose to share their presentation material with students may do so provided distribution is limited to students enrolled in the program. Posting to a secure online environment that requires students to authenticate is acceptable. Include the following notice:

"Copyrighted material contained herein is reproduced under ss. 29-29.4 of the Canadian Copyright Act. This document is available for your individual use; further distribution may infringe copyright".

Copying outside these guidelines may be permitted depending on intended use. Contact the University Copyright Office at for assistance.

Showing a Movie

Under an exception in the Copyright Act, instructors may show a movie to students on the premises of the University for educational purposes. There is no requirement to report the movies you show.

Performing a film in public for other purposes requires permission from the rightsholder prior to the event. If you are uncertain in you need permission, contact the Copyright Office for assistance.