Guidelines for Choosing Digital Content on York LMS

Instructors can also make course materials available to students via York University Learning Management Systems (LMS)  that are password-protected and accessible only to students while they are enroled in the course. In advance of making digital content available to your students review these guidelines.

Options available for digital content for your York LMS

  1. York University Library (YUL) e-Resources

 You are strongly encouraged to use the Library e-resource collections to provide access to full-text journal articles, e-books, government documents, etc. Generally, you are permitted to post a link to an eBook or e-Journal that is accessible via the York University Library e-Resources catalogue. Information on how to integrate library e-resources into your course Learning Management System (LMS) can be found here:  This helpful guide will walk you through the process of reviewing the terms of use for any eResource and how to make a permanent link to an item in the library catalogue.  

  1. Fair Dealing Guidelines

An important exception to the right of copyright owners to control the reproduction of their works is known in Canada as the “fair dealing” exception. This exception in the Copyright Act attempts to balance the rights of the copyright owner with the needs of others, who require access to copyrighted material to pursue their research and studies. A short excerpt of a protected work (e.g. book, journal and newspaper article, audiovisual work, sound recording, etc.) may be used in your LMS course materials. See York’s  Application of the Fair Dealing Policy for Universities to Learning Management Systems for details and limits.

Keep track of the materials you provide to students as you go through the course by adding to your reading list. This will ensure that over the length of the term the amount taken from a source never goes over the limits set out in the Fair Dealing Guidelines.

Note: A copyright-protected work made available under a York University Library licence that prohibits the use of extracts on an LMS cannot be copied and included in an LMS. The terms and conditions of that licence take precedence over the Fair Dealing Guidelines.

The Fair Dealing guidelines do not permit the circumvention of digital locks to obtain access to a copyright-protected audiovisual work.

Motion pictures and other audiovisual works that are published on DVDs are typically protected by a digital lock known as the Content Scrambling System (“CSS”). The Fair Dealing Guidelines do not apply if it is necessary to circumvent a CSS lock in order to copy a Short Excerpt of an audiovisual work. It is however permissible to reproduce a Short Excerpt under the Fair Dealing Guidelines through using a video recording device, e.g. a camcorder, to record a Short Excerpt from a computer, television screen or projection. It is also permissible to use screen capture software that enables the copying of DVD content after the content has been lawfully decrypted by a licensed computer DVD player. For further information see the Fair Dealing Guide to Audiovisual Works or contact

*Relationship between Fair Dealing and the Exceptions for Displaying a Work and a Lesson 

Below are explanations of two additional user rights set out in the Copyright Act (called, respectively, the Display exception and the Lesson exception). These are separate and distinct from the fair dealing exception.

In any given instance, both the fair dealing exception and one of these other exceptions may apply. In such an instance, a faculty member may choose which ever is more practical or otherwise preferable— the fair dealing exception or one of the Display or Lesson exceptions.

If the use of a particular Work falls outside what is permitted by the Fair Dealing Guidelines, a faculty member may wish to consider whether the fair dealing exception otherwise applies, or whether the Display or Lesson exceptions are more appropriate.  Please note that both the Display and the Lesson exceptions contain restrictions that must be complied with.  If you have any questions or concerns about either exception, please contact

The Display Exception 

Pursuant to section 29.4(1) of the Copyright Act, it is not an infringement of copyright to reproduce a Work, or do any other necessary act, in order to display the work on the premises of a university for the purpose of education or training.

This exception permits the display of more than a Short Excerpt.

Restrictions:  The exception does not apply if the work is available for sale in Canada within a reasonable time, at a reasonable price, in a medium appropriate for the display, and the copies may be located with reasonable effort. However, this does not prevent a faculty member making of a manual reproduction of the Work (e.g. on a white board).

The Lesson Exception 

Section 30.01 of the Copyright Act provides an exception for copies included in a lesson. A lesson would include a lecture, and a presentation, such as a PowerPoint presentation, presented in a classroom.

For the exception in section 30.01. to apply, recordings or reproductions of the lesson must be destroyed within 30 days after the day on which the students enroled in the course of which the lesson forms part have received their final course evaluation. This would mean that all copies of a presentation stored on an LMS must be destroyed, and not merely rendered inaccessible to students, within the 30 day period. You must clearly post that the copy is being made using this exception.

The following activities are permissible under section 30.01:

  • If a presentation made in class contains a work displayed pursuant to Display exception (described above), that presentation may be posted to an LMS.
  • If a recording of a lecture or classroom presentation contains a work displayed pursuant to the Display exception, that recording may be posted to an LMS.
  • If a recording of a lecture or classroom presentation contains the performance of an audiovisual work or sound recording, that recording may be posted to an LMS. However, the audiovisual work and the sound recording must not be an infringing copy or the person responsible for the performance had no reasonable grounds to believe that the audiovisual work or sound recording was an infringing copy. For more information contact
  1. Public Domain, Creative Commons and Open Access

Works in the public domain or published using an Open Access or Creative Commons licence are a great option for course materials, especially images. Each content database will list the ‘terms of use’ for the work and will set out any limits on copying, reuse and the required attribution. Usage terms will vary within databases so check each item you want to use in your course.

Public Domain: Works that are not protected by copyright are said to be in the Public Domain and you are free to use them as you choose. A copyright-protected work enters the public domain when the copyright expires or is waived by the copyright owner.

On November 23, 2022 the Government of Canada announced that an Order in Council was signed to bring into force the amendments to the Copyright Act that were included in the Budget Implementation Act, 2022, No. 1 (Bill C-19).

Bill C-19 extends the general term of copyright protection in Canada from 50 to 70 years after the life of the author. The change takes effect on December 30, 2022, and the term extension will not apply to works that are already in the public domain. The copyright term extension to life plus 70 years was one of Canada’s obligations under the Canada–United States–Mexico Agreement and brings its term of copyright protection in line with most of its major trading partners.

More information is found at The duration of copyright will vary depending on the format of the work so if you need additional information contact

Some good sources for high resolution images in the public domain are listed below. Any potential copyright restrictions on use are listed so check each image before using it. :

Creative Commons or Open Access content is protected by copyright and the licence the creator of the work applies to its use may impose specific conditions on copying, sharing and attribution requirements. The Creative Commons site has helpful FAQs on CC licences that will provide additional information on how to navigate the licences to find the right content for your course,

Creative Commons (CC)

Some authors apply Creative Commons licences to their work to allow others to share, remix, or use the work without having to ask for permission. There are several Creative Commons licences with varying levels of restriction on use. Always read the terms of use set by the creator /owner of the copyrighted material for any CC content. Search for Creative Commons content here:

Always double check that the images you find in these searches are licensed appropriately before use.

The Creative Commons website has FAQs on Creative Commons licences to find the right content for your course,

Additional information on attribution requirements may be reviewed here.

Open Access Materials

Open Access refers to resources that are freely available for viewing and use. Open Access is not the same as Public Domain, and most Open Access creators do retain the copyright in their work. Some Open Access content is limited to partial access, such as linking, while other authors permit unrestricted use so check to see what limits apply to the item you wish to use in your course. More information is found at

A good starting point in searching for Open Access content is:

  1. Internet Content

Many websites limit access to their content so you are strongly encouraged to use library eResource collections rather than linking to content on the internet. Hyperlinking to content outside of the course LMS site is always preferable especially when the entire work is viewed. Seek permission from the rights-holder if you intend to incorporate significant amounts of a work into your course materials.

Before linking to internet content always read the terms of use. Websites frequently change content and the terms of use so rely on linking for recommended reading only, not required. For required readings that must be available to students for the length of the course rely on other options and only include materials that are reasonably necessary for the course.

If you are unable to find appropriate materials in the York Library eResources you may provide a link to a website on the internet if the following conditions are met:

  • The material was posted legitimately – works available via the internet can not be reproduced if the educational institution or person acting under its authority knows, or should have known, that the work was made available through the Internet without the consent of the copyright owner;
  • There is no digital lock preventing access or copying;
  • There is no visible notice prohibiting linking to the URL; and
  • Include the full details of the author, copyright owner and source of the materials from the website.

Terms of Use

When evaluating internet content look for statements that the individual who uploaded it has the right to do so either because they have obtained copyright permission of the creator or their representatives. If you don't see such type of information, it may be illegally posted so choose other content. To determine if you are viewing a legally posted version of a copyright-protected work start by looking at the creator’s official Web site.  They may sell their work directly or have links to representatives authorized to sell it on their behalf. If they do, it is an indication that the internet version is not from a legitimate source with the legal right to distribute the content.  If you have any doubts, contact the creator/rights holder directly or the content uploader to determine if they have obtained permission from the copyright holder distributes the content.


The embed feature can be found on many platforms, such as YouTube, Vimeo, etc. Once enabled it appears to grant a limited licence to copy and distribute the content. However, if someone uploads infringing content they have no legal right to grant that licence. The licence can only be granted by the rights holder or their representative.  When evaluating internet content look for statements that they have the right to post the material either because they created the content or have obtained the permission from the creators or the company representing them. To determine if you are viewing a legitimate version of a copyrighted work start by looking at the creator’s official web site.  They may sell their work directly or have links to representatives authorized to sell it on their behalf. If they do, it may be an indication that the internet version is not from a legitimate source. If you have any doubts, contact copyright owner or the internet site where you found the content. When linking or embedding internet content in LMS site:

  • Do not break a digital lock (a TPM or technological protection measure) in accessing or copying the content;
  • Read the terms of use before using the content as the platforms frequently change its terms;
  • Do not make a copy of the content and upload it to LMS; and
  • Provide proper attribution along with the link to the video.
  1. Instructor-created works, in which you own, or have retained the rights to use for this purpose

Works you create, in which you own,  or have retained the right to use in your course are a great choice for your course LMS. This would include lecture slides and course notes without third party content, etc.

  1. Laws, Statutes, Judicial Decisions and Government of Canada Publications.
  2. Permission from Rights Holder

If your course content is not available via the options mentioned above? Consider having the students purchase a textbook or course pack from the bookstore. Or, a transactional licence should be secured from the rights holder or licensing agent. Details of how to make a request to a rights holder can be found here:

  1. Screening audiovisual content

Sharing audiovisual content such as films and audio files presents more copyright challenges than playing them in class. Instructors can still link to legally posted online content from YouTube, etc. and York Libraries also has licensed streaming video collections that can be accessed.  Purchasing additional licences for additional content can take some time so commercial streaming options (i.e. Netflix, Crave or Disney Plus) that students may already subscribe to can be a good option.

If you want to screen a film for your class is not available digitally through one of YUL collections, you may be able to conduct a virtual screening using the distance education exception in the Copyright Act (Section 30.01). This copyright exception is not widely used as it includes a variety of requirements that need to be followed. Contact for more information on the requirements of this copyright exception.

Copyright Q & A Sessions

If you would like more information on copyright and posting content on your course LMS, consider attending a Copyright Information session. All copyright-related questions or concerns can be discussed with staff from York’s Copyright Office.


We would like to acknowledge the contribution of material found on the University of British Columbia’s Copyright at UBC’s website, licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.