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Unauthorized Sharing of Teaching Materials

What to do if your teaching materials have been posted online without your permission

Sites like Course Hero and OneClass are online learning platforms that encourage students to share and access course-specific study resources. While these platforms do make some effort to ensure materials posted are the property of the student, unfortunately instructors’ materials are increasingly being shared on these sites without permission. Internet sites, such as these, have a legal obligation to address any request from copyright owners to remove unauthorized material. (More information regarding Notices to Canadian Internet subscribers.)

Generally, instructors at University of New Brunswick (UNB) own the intellectual property of their teaching-related materials, such as: lecture notes, PowerPoint presentations, lab manuals, syllabi, and streamed lectures. Many students have not encountered or had experience with this type of ownership and may unwittingly breach a creator’s or copyright owner’s rights. It is important to remind students that copyright infringement, plagiarism, cheating or enabling these actions for others have serious implications including expulsion from UNB (UNB Academic Offences). Informing students of how they can use your work and the work of others in their research and education through notices in your syllabi, a conversation at the beginning of class or both can help mitigate unintended consequences. If you would like more information regarding copyright and your rights as a creator, please contact the Libraries’ Copyright Office.

Finding your course material online

A simple search in the most popular sites identified above for your name and/or class number filtered by institution will often locate the most egregious instances of unauthorized distribution. However, if you would like more information about how to search for your teaching materials posted without your consent, Cornell University's Copyright Information Centre includes tips for finding your copyrighted materials online.

If you do find your teaching materials on a course sharing site, you can submit a takedown request. Here is an example of Take Down Notice template. Some sites have an online form available, and others have specific instructions in their Terms of Use.

For example:

Or, if you prefer, we can help you submit the takedown, please email us at with the following information: your full name and contact information, identification of your copyrighted work and link to your content on said website. Be sure to indicate that you are giving the Copyright Office permission to act on your behalf to remove the identified material(s).

Sharing your material

Alternatively, if you are OK with students posting some, or all, of your material online, you can consider communicating to them that you are making specific course materials available by a Creative Commons License that will enable them to do so. (Please see the Creative Commons site to choose the most applicable license type.)

Student responsibility and ownership

Students are also creators and are permitted to post their own intellectual property, such as lecture notes, essays, or other personally created materials in any way they like. Students may also post short excerpts of your work to non-commercial sites, for a fair dealing purpose (such as criticism, review, education, or news reporting). It is equally important to remind students that they are often giving up their rights to their work when they ‘agree’ to the terms of the website that makes their works available. Moreover, many assignments or student works are the result of group projects that consist of collaborations with fellow students. In this case, permission of each contributor must be provided before materials can be shared beyond the group. Again, it is important for students to consider what materials they are sharing and that there are academic implications for assisting in an offence. Students should be advised to contact the course instructor if they have any concerns or questions. (UNB Academic Offences)