Can I use content from online sources for educational purposes?

Images, text, videos, and music from online sources enjoy the same copyright protection as print sources and formats like CDs, vinyl, DVDs, Blu-ray discs, etc.. The Copyright Act includes an exception that permits the use of publicly accessible online content for educational purposes. In order to make use of this exception, the following conditions must be met: 

  • The content must be publicly accessible (you must be able to access the content without creating an account, logging in to a website, subscribing to a website or online service, or paying any fees); 
  • The content must be legitimate and must have been made available to the public online by the copyright owner (consult verified accounts and trusted websites, consider the validity of the usernames of those who posted or uploaded the content, and avoid content that is accompanied by disclaimers claiming that 'no copyright infringement was intended'); 
  • The content must not be accompanied by a clearly visible copyright notice that prohibits educational or non-commercial use; 
  • Access to and use of the content must not be restricted by technological protection measures or digital locks (avoid images that are watermarked, avoid text that cannot be downloaded or copied and pasted, and avoid videos and music that cannot be played in your geographic location); and 
  • The author(s) and source of the content must be acknowledged when publicly accessible online content is used. 

Please note that while Netflix, Amazon Prime, Disney+, Apple TV, HBO Max, Spotify, etc. are legitimate sources of online content, they are not publicly accessible sources of online content. Subscriptions to these services and platforms require accounts and agreements to Terms of Use/Service which restrict access to personal and household use. These streaming services and platforms should not be used in classrooms. 

Please contact the Copyright Advisory Office is you have any questions about online content that you would like to use for educational purposes:

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