Library:Copyright Resources/MOOCs Copyright Guide/What Copyright Law Allows You To Copy

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What Copyright Law Allows You to Copy

Despite the above restrictions, MOOC authors and participants enjoy “user rights”, which are robust rights to use materials without needing to obtain the copyright owner’s permission, including:

  1. Your Own Work – Copying and distributing your own work is up to you. Uploading content you have developed is to grant UBC a license to reproduce, sublicense to a third party, distribute, publicly display, publicly perform, enhance, modify, adapt and translate such content (please refer to the Agreement for Content Licensing). Please note, however, that permissions may be nonetheless required if (1) the work contains third-party copyrighted materials, or (2) you’ve transferred your copyright in the work to a third party, as is often the case with published works such as books and articles.
  2. Insubstantial Portions of Works – Copying quantitatively and qualitatively insubstantial amounts of a work does not require permission or payment. Examples of insubstantial use in the MOOC environment would include quoting a few sentences from an article or book, or a few words from a short poem or song. If quoting more than a few sentences at a time, consider whether the amount copied is substantial (if so, the permission of the copyright owner should be sought). If in doubt, contact the SCCO.
  3. Material in which Copyright Cannot Exist – Copyright does not protect facts and ideas, it only protects the particular way that an author expresses them. The novel ‘Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone’ is protected by copyright. The idea of a child wizard who confronts an evil wizard is not. Similarly, a textbook on geology may be protected by copyright but the facts in it (about sedimentation, magma, tectonic plates, etc.) are not.
  4. Material no Longer Protected by Copyright – In Canada, a work’s copyright protection typically ends 50 years after the death of its author, regardless of the citizenship of the author or where the work was originally published. When a work’s copyright protection ends, the work is said to enter the public domain. For more information, please see UBC’s Public Domain Guide.
  5. Openly Licensed Works – material covered by Creative Commons and other open, free-for-use licences can be used with minimal restrictions. Note, it is important to review the terms of the license to ensure that you comply with those minimal restrictions. Materials licensed with a non-commercial (NC) clause that prohibits the use of the material for commercial purposes cannot be used in Coursera-based MOOCs.
  6. Hyperlinks – Providing an Internet link to a work is not generally considered to be the same as making a copy, so it does not trigger the requirement of permission or payment.

Adapted with permission from the Canadian Association of University Teachers’ CAUT Guidelines for the Use of Copyrighted Material(2013).