Protecting your Course Materials

The information on this page is intended to address the issue of sharing of course materials like PowerPoint slides or lecture notes to a public website for commercial or noncommercial purposes. While you simply may not want your intellectual property to be shared outside the classroom, another important consideration is the use of copyrighted content in course materials. 

If the third-party copyrighted content appearing in your course materials is a short except being used for education purposes or you have received the copyright owner’s permission, then you may post a copy into the University’s secure learning management system where it is restricted to students enrolled in your course. However, having these materials posted on a publicly accessible website is a much greater risk and is not advisable. 

Explain the Status of Materials

To help mitigate the risk and explain the status of your materials you could consider adding a statement to your course materials:

“This material is provided for educational purposes as part of <Course Name> at the University of Windsor. Third party copyrighted materials have either been licensed for use in this course or fall under an exception or limitation in Canadian Copyright law. Sharing this material to a third-party website can lead to a violation of Copyright law."

  • Any written or visual material an instructor produces is automatically copyrighted, and an instructor may pursue any violator of that copyright whether or not a notice is placed on the course material. 
  • If you find your copyrighted material on a note sharing or commercial study prep service, you can request that the site remove your materials. Course Hero for example has a takedown request page.
  • If the site in question does not have a take request form, you may wish to draft a takedown notice. Notice templates gratefully adapated from York University Libraries and Brock University Libraries.
  • If you would like help please contact copyright@uwindsor.ca.
Sample US Takedown notice

Subject: Copyright Infringement Notice

To whom it may concern:

This is notice pursuant to section 512(c) of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act that your website service is hosting material that infringes my copyright. As a service provider, you are required to “expeditiously remove or disable access to” the infringing material.

Work(s): [Title(s)]
Location(s): [link to URL(s)]
File name: [name, if applicable]

Infringing poster: [name/username/account/other identifying information if available]

I am the author and the copyright owner [of the works listed above or, if your work has been used in a larger file, identify the specific parts of the work(s) in which you own copyright]. This/these work(s) has/have been posted to your service without my permission.

Claimant name: [Your name]

Contact information: [business address, email, & phone number]

I have a good faith belief that the use of the material that appears on the service is not authorized by myself, the copyright owner, my agent, or by operation of law.
I declare under penalty of perjury, pursuant to the laws of the United States of America, that this notification is true and accurate, and that I am either the copyright owner or I am authorized by the copyright owner, its agent, or by operation of law.
Please contact me at the email listed above indicating your prompt response.

Signed,

[electronic or physical signature]
[name]
[Date]
 

Sample Canadian Takedown Notice

To whom it may concern:

This is notice pursuant to section 41.25 of Canada’s Copyright Act that your website service is hosting material that infringes copyright. You are required by section 41.26(1) of the Copyright Act to:

(a)as soon as feasible forward the notice electronically to the person to whom the electronic location identified by the location data specified in the notice belongs and inform the claimant of its forwarding or, if applicable, of the reason why it was not possible to forward it; and

(b)retain records that will allow the identity of the person to whom the electronic location belongs to be determined, and do so for six months beginning on the day on which the notice of claimed infringement is received or, if the claimant commences proceedings relating to the claimed infringement and so notifies the person before the end of those six months, for one year after the day on which the person receives the notice of claimed infringement.

Work(s): [Title(s)]
Location(s): [link to URL(s)]
File name: [name, if applicable]
Infringing poster: [name/username/account/other identifying information if available]

I am the author and copyright owner of [the works listed above or, if your work has been used in a larger file, identify the specific parts of the work(s) in which you own copyright]. This/these work(s) has/have been posted to your service without my permission.

Claimant name: [Your name]
Contact information: [business address, email, & phone number]
I request that you remove the infringing material immediately.  Please contact me at the email listed above indicating your prompt response.

[Name]
[Date]

Open Course Materials

We also recognize that some faculty wish to encourage more open access to information and may not wish to discourage students from sharing course materials widely. If your course materials don't contain third party copyrighted materials you may wish to facilitate open sharing by applying a Creative Commons license to your work. They are in widespread use in government and educational institutions and affirm an open approach to knowledge sharing. To procure a CC license, go to creativecommons.org. For more information visit our Open Education page.

Thanks to Queens University Library from which some of this content was adapted.

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