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Protecting Your Intellectual Property

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Adapting or designing an online course may involve creating materials that are unique to your course, class, or topic. Generally, in the absence of another agreement, instructors at York University own the intellectual property to the teaching materials they create. Before sharing these resources with your students, think about what considerations or limitations, if any, you would like to stipulate for those who may wish to make future use of your content.

Copyright and Intellectual Property

1. Talk about copyright and IP with your students

It is possible that your students may want to share your course materials outside of your course. When distributing your materials, make students aware of your intellectual property rights. If you wish to grant permission to students to reuse or post materials you have created, identify those works in the course syllabus or in the footer of each document. Let students know when content you created is available through either an open access or Creative Commons (CC) licence. Information on the different licensing options available can be found on the CC website. Let students know how they can protect their own intellectual property rights when creating and sharing work in their courses.

Best practices

  • Talk to your students about protecting their own intellectual property rights and privacy.
  • Students will own the copyright to the notes, assignments, and all other course work that they create
  • Ensure you share with them how, or if, you will make further use of any class recordings that include their voice and/or image. In advance of any use of the recording you must always request and obtain permission.
  • Consider your privacy and the privacy of your students when sharing course content. Particularly if you have, for example, recorded video lectures or your students would like to share a recording of themselves as part of course assignments. For more information, refer to the privacy considerations highlighted in Create and Share Course Content.
  • State your ownership of materials you create for the course and include a notification on the course syllabus stating the limits on use for course materials.

2. Consider adding a Creative Commons license to content

Engaging in online teaching can offer new possibilities for contributing to the larger community of educators. You may wish to offer resources and course content you have created to others for their own use. You can do this while still protecting your intellectual property rights and controlling how others can share and adapt your content. A Creative Commons license is one way to do this. These licenses provide a consistent language and structure for indicating how, or if, others can use your course materials.



Best practices

  • These guidelines are meant to help mitigate incidents of potential infringements of copyright by ensuring that materials are shared in a copyright-compliant manner. Students may still, for example, screen capture or record your course content and share it online without your knowledge. It is helpful to anticipate these concerns and consider what reasonable alternatives might be available to you in the context of your own course.

Creative Commons License

© Blended and Online Learning (BOLD), Teaching Commons & Learning Technology Services, York University. Unless otherwise stated, all content on the Going Remote - York University site is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommerical 4.0 International license. If you reuse this work, please attribute BOLD, York University and include a link to

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