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Selecting Course Materials

Selecting course materials when delivering courses at a distance comes with new considerations. How will your students access textbooks, articles or other course material? How can you ensure that you are sharing these resources in compliance with copyright regulations? This section will offer tips to help you navigate the selection and sharing of course materials for online and remote courses.

Understanding & Applying York’s Fair Dealing Guideline

You are encouraged to review and apply the York’s Fair Dealing Guidelines when you are making decisions about what content to post on York’s password-protected LMS. Additional information on teaching online is available on the Copyright@York website and on the Teaching Commons’ Going Remote website.

Copyright and Content Selection Support at York University

Copyright Support staff are available to help with any copyright questions you may have.

They can also:

  • Create permanent links to York University Libraries’ e-resources.
  • Facilitate the acquisition of a transactional license or permission from the copyright holder if needed.
  • Assess whether your assigned readings fall within Fair Dealing Guidelines.

Staff can be reached at and more information can be found at the Copyright @ York website. Copyright @ York also provides guidance on choosing and using different types of course content on the following webpages: Using Content in Your Course and Guidelines for Choosing Digital Content on York LMS.

Open Educational Resources

If you are interested in using an Open Educational Resource, please consult eCampus Ontario’s Open Library. York Libraries also offer a Guide to Open Educational Resources.

Phone Apps to Digitize Content

Phone apps, such as Genius Scan or Adobe Scan, can be used to digitize content within the limits set out in York’s Fair Dealing Guidelines. Once digitized, you can post this content to your eClass course. Keep in mind that you can make the PDF files more accessible for students by using an optical character recognition (OCR) online tool. The OCR tool can be used to convert ‘non-selectable’ text files into more accessible formats.

Sharing Audiovisual Content

Sharing audiovisual content, such as films and audio files, is more complicated in a virtual classroom. Playing audio or video of legally-obtained physical media (e.g., DVDs or CDs) during an in-person class session is permitted under Section 29.5 of the Copyright Act. However, the copyright exemption generally does not cover the sharing of the same audiovisual content in online lectures.

York's Fair Dealing Guidelines permit you to copy or show short excerpts of a film, television program or video during your live lectures or in your lecture recordings. You are also permitted to make the excerpts available on eClass to students for educational purposes related to research and private study. A 'short excerpt' is defined as up to 10% of a copyrighted work. For more information, please download and review the Application of the Fair Dealing Guidelines for Universities to Audiovisual Works. If you plan to use longer excerpts or the entire work, please consider the following:

  • You can link to legally posted online content from YouTube, etc.
  • There are pre-existing licensed streaming video collections that can be accessed through York Libraries, and used in your online/remote course(s). Students will be able to independently access the streaming films in these collections. York Libraries may be able to purchase streaming access for additional media. Please send your film requests and inquiries to
  • For free visual or audio resources, please consult this Teaching Commons’ list of free resources.

Ordering books for your course and creating course kits

The York University Bookstore will assist you with sourcing your required course materials in every available format (both hard copy and e-versions). To make your course materials available to your students much earlier than the first day of class, please ensure that you submit your textbook and course packs to the Bookstore by the deadlines posted under 'Text & Course Kit Ordering Dates' on the York University Bookstore Faculty webpage.

  • Please note that the bookstore will require between 8 to 16 weeks in lead time for custom course materials and for titles coming from overseas.
  • Books from previous semesters are not normally retained. If you plan to use the same titles in the Fall term, please contact the bookstore to retain leftover books, or re-order them.
  • Orders for course materials can be submitted to the bookstore buyers by email, by phone or through the York University Bookstore online ordering system.
    • For an online ordering password, faculty and staff can email
    • If you require an ordering toolkit please email to Michael Legris at
  • Contact information for Keele campus textbook buyers:
  • If you plan on using a course kit, please email for more information or to get your order started. Please note that in order to ensure availability of course kit/case books before or on the first day of class, your materials will need to be submitted by the deadlines listed under Text & Course Kit Ordering Dates on the York University Bookstore Faculty webpage. Printing Services can review the materials and let you know an approximate availability date within 48 hours. Every effort will be made to have the casebooks available as soon as possible.

If you require desk copies, please contact the publisher directly, or your unit-level assistants. The Bookstore will not help you source desk copies.

Protecting Your Intellectual Property

Generally, in the absence of another agreement, you – as an instructor at York University – own the intellectual property of the teaching materials you create, even if delivered on Zoom or made available on your eClass. While you do not hold the copyright to third party content, you do own the copyright to your instructor-created teaching materials, such as course syllabi, lecture notes, PowerPoint presentations, quizzes, exams, assignment instructions, handouts, and lectures.

Please consider including an intellectual property notice in your course syllabus. Below you will find suggested language for your copyright notice. It is written in a way that takes into account the language suggested by YUFA as well as by the Copyright@York policy on the reuse of teaching materials by students.

All materials prepared for [insert your course code] at York University are the intellectual property of the [insert name(s) of the course instructor(s)] unless otherwise stated. Course materials should only be used by students enrolled in this course. This can include the following material: lecture handouts, spoken and written presentations, audio and video recordings, PowerPoint slides, as well as questions and/or solution sets for assignments, quizzes, tests and final exams, among other pieces of intellectual property. As a student in this course, you may not publish, post on an Internet site, sell, or otherwise distribute any of this work without the instructor’s express permission. Unauthorized or commercial use of these materials is strictly prohibited. Third party copyrighted materials (such as book chapters, journal articles, music, videos, etc.) have either been licensed for use in this course, or fall under an exception or limitation in Canadian copyright law. Copying this material for distribution (e.g. uploading material to a commercial third-party website, or online sharing of course material with people outside of the course) may lead to a charge of misconduct under York’s Code of Student Rights and Responsibilities and the Senate Policy on Academic Honesty. In addition, you may face legal consequences for any violation of copyright law.

If you find your intellectual property being shared by a third party website in Canada or the US, please consider using the templates written by Copyright@York for issuing your takedown notice.