Copyright basics for teaching assistants

James A. Gibson Library

Copyright basics for teaching assistants

Like any Brock University faculty member or employee, teaching assistants are expected to comply with copyright law and University policies with respect to copyright. Here are some copyright basics to help get you started. For more information, refer to Brock’s Copyright FAQ or contact


What is copyright?

Copyright is the legal protection given to literary, artistic, dramatic and musical works, as well as sound recordings, performance and communication signals. This covers things like books, articles, figures, graphs, CDs, DVDs, software and websites. Copyright gives the creators and owners of these materials certain exclusive rights, but balances these rights with certain exceptions for users.


How does copyright affect my responsibilities as a teaching assistant?

Copyright can affect your ability to share educational resources with students. For example, while copyright law allows you to provide short excerpts of materials to students for educational purposes, it would prevent you from scanning an entire book and posting that on Isaak/Sakai. So anytime you intend to share copyright materials with students, whether that’s showing an online video in class or posting an article on Isaak/Sakai, you need to consider whether the use is covered by the Copyright Act, a Library licence, or through some sort of permission from the copyright owner.


What are the rules for using copyright materials in the classroom?

Fortunately, there are many exceptions in the Copyright Act that permit educational institutions (and people acting under their authority, such as teaching assistants) to use copyright materials in the classroom, without requiring permission from the copyright holder or payment of a fee. For example, it is permissible to show films in class for educational purposes, provided the copy being shown is a non-infringing copy (no pirated DVDs!). For further information about what you can do in the classroom, refer to: Teaching in the Classroom.


What are the rules for posting copyright materials on Isaak/Sakai?

If you want to uplaod materials to Isaak/Sakai, you need to be aware that there are certain copyright rules and requirements you will need to abide by.  For example, if you want to upload an article from an e-journal licenced by the Library, you'll need to check the Library's licence database to confirm what the journal allows as some journals only permit linking.  For further information about what you can post to Isaak/Sakai, refer to: Copyright and your Isaak/Sakai course site.


Image of students listening to instructor.

As a teaching assistant, you need to ensure that you understand and comply with copyright law and University policies with respect to copyright, such as the Fair Dealing Policy.

If your question isn’t answered here, contact the Centre for Pedagogical Innovation at