Sharing Your Teaching Materials Online

[Updated: 14 Mar 2024]

This page addresses copyright issues related to the online sharing of content created by U of A instructors for use in courses. Teaching materials might include content such as the course syllabus, recorded lectures, instructor-authored readings and notes, and presentation slides.

For information about sharing course materials created or owned by someone else, see Course Materials or email


Copyright Ownership

How do my rights and responsibilities around copyright for digital and online materials compare to those for physical, printed materials?

When it comes to the rights you hold in the materials you have created, under the Copyright Act, those rights are the same whether those materials are distributed in print or in electronic format. However, there may be additional considerations for electronic distribution because such materials can be much more easily shared by end-users. These considerations might include clear terms of use or even applying digital rights management tools to your distribution of the materials to limit downloading or copying.

Who owns the copyright in teaching materials I create as a U of A faculty member?

If you created all components of the content (text or script, background music or video, etc.) then you likely hold the copyright in the materials. Instructors at the U of A usually hold the copyright in works they create in the course of their employment (for more information, see Article 11 and the copyright appendix in the relevant schedule in the AASUA collective agreement). To learn more, see For Content Creators.


Students’ Use of Your Materials

What can students do with the teaching materials I share with them in a Learning Management System (e.g., eClass)? 

Copyright-protected materials that are shared with students on a Learning Management System, and the students’ use of those materials, are subject to the terms of the Copyright Act. In the absence of any specific guidance from the rights holder, students using such teaching materials can only lawfully reproduce and share that content within the limits of the exceptions to copyright infringement as outlined in the Copyright Act. However, different instructors have different approaches to the permitted uses of their materials, which could make the terms of use of your materials unclear to your students. Where you are the rights holder, it is in your interest to clearly indicate the intended terms of use of your materials and the extent to which you are open (or not open) to the reuse and further distribution of those materials.

The Terms of Use for your Materials

How can I make it clear to students that I support some types of copying and sharing but not other types?

In addition to making your ownership of the content clear, include information about appropriate downstream uses. For example, include both a © statement (the © symbol followed by your name and the year) and the terms of use that are appropriate for the content you created and own at the beginning and/or end of the document, video, etc.  See also Sharing Course Notes and Study Materials Online.

How can I ensure that my materials are copied and shared as intended?

First, consider what type of copying and sharing is appropriate. For example, if it is important to you that some or all of your teaching materials not be shared on the open web, make that clear to your students. If some or all of your materials can be shared openly, assign the appropriate Creative Commons licence, so that it is clear to your students that providing attribution and abiding by other licence elements is required under the terms of that licence.

What is a Creative Commons (CC) licence and how do I assign a CC licence to my teaching materials?

The CC licences provide a standardized way to inform others that your works can be used in specific ways. Simply select and affix the appropriate licence information to assign the licence to a work that you created and own. There is no fee or registration procedure to assign a CC licence. For more information, see Creative Commons, Share Your Work.

What technological protections can I put in place to help prevent unintended uses of my teaching materials?

While it may be impossible to completely prevent misuse of the materials you make available, there are tools that can reduce and discourage such misuse. The U of A LMS and Google Drive both support restricted access to content you upload and share. For details about using these features, consult these resources:

Embedding Google Drive files in eClass
Sharing & Permissions (IST)

For additional questions or to suggest changes to this webpage, email