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Copyright at Seneca

See the Fair Dealing page for more information

Publicly Available Materials (PAMs)

Most of the materials found online, such as content from websites, are protected by copyright. The publicly available materials (PAMs) exemption in the Canadian copyright law allows faculty to copy Internet content for the purpose of education. In order to use this exemption, the following conditions must be met:

  • The work must be cited
  • There is no technological protection measure/digital lock preventing access to the material, such as log-ins
  • There is no clearly visible notice prohibiting educational use
  • The material must not be an infringing copy
Note: iTunes, Netflix and other personal subscriptions. Works that are accessible through iTunes, Netflix  and other personal media subscriptions are NOT considered publicly available materials. A personal login, password, and an account are required to access the works. Although these subscriptions offer access to legitimate copies of cinematographic works, you are limited to the contractual terms of the subscriptions' licenses. These terms of use are limited to personal, non-commercial use only and cannot be used for educational purposes.


What are Technological Protection Measures or Digital Locks?

Digital locks are devices or tools used to protect copyright-protected materials from illegal use. These include read-only documents, password-protected materials, watermarks on an image.

Section 41.1 of the Copyright Act prohibits the circumvention or breaking of a technological protection measure or digital lock.

Note: There are no educational exemptions that permit the breaking of a digital lock or circumventing the technological protection measure. If a copy is needed and there is a digital lock you must request permission from the copyright holder.

Publisher-issued Course Materials

Generally, when a textbook is adopted for use in a course and the students enrolled in the course are required to purchase the textbook, the publisher of that textbook will give permission to make use of additional accompanying instructional materials like instructor's manuals, assignment workbooks, solutions, and presentation slides. There are some exceptions where publishers will only allow certain solutions to be posted. This information will be in the textbook agreement from the publisher. If unsure contact and we will help in getting the correct permissions required.


Modifying Content in Publisher-Issued Slides

You can add content to slides (text or images) but you are not allowed to remove or reproduce the content from the slides.

Library Database Content

Seneca Libraries purchase licensing agreements from various database vendors allowing the Seneca community to access to eResources such as eBooks, newspapers, magazines, and academic journals. Each vendor sets their own usage restrictions on the materials in their collection. Users must check the database's terms of use to find out what uses are permitted.

It is important to note that licensing agreements override rights in the Copyright Act and the terms of the license must be followed.

YouTube Videos

Faculty members are allowed to show an online video in class as long as the following conditions are met:

  • the video is a legitimate copy of the work (i.e., it was uploaded by the copyright owner)
  • there are no clearly visible notices prohibiting educational use
  • there are no access lock preventing the public from accessing the video, such as log-ins

If you would like a second opinion as to whether a video is acceptable to show in class please contact

eBook icon

Open Educational Resources (OERs)

"…any type of educational materials that are in the public domain or introduced with an open license. The nature of these open materials means that anyone can legally and freely copy, use, adapt and re-share them. OERs range from textbooks to curricula, syllabi, lecture notes, assignments, tests, projects, audio, video and animation." (Source)

For more information, see Seneca College Faculty Guide to OERs.

Examples of subjects with open textbooks include: Psychology, Business, ESL, Microbiology.

Examples of open learning resources, such as activities and handouts, include: Writing Your Essay, The Accounting Cycle – Problems, Mathematics (homework exercises).

Icon: ebook by Vectors Market from the Noun Project

Case study icon

Case studies, such as those published by Harvard Business and Ivey, are copyright-protected. Individual or class licenses to use case studies are purchased directly from the publisher. Note that case studies cannot be shared with your students unless you purchase a class set.

Alternatives to using licensed business cases:

  • case studies found in the various library business databases
  • case studies found on the internet which are posted by the copyright holder and not password protected

See our Case Studies for Business in the Business Subject Guide for more tips and links to finding case studies.

Icon by Tomas Knopp from the Noun Project


All printing of coursepacks including checking of all allowable percentages are now handled through Xerox. You can reach them via email at


Coursepacks are custom packages of materials collected for a course usually used in replacement of/for a text. For coursepack photocopying under Xerox's Access Copyright Interim Tariff or Model License, no copying can exceed 20% of a published work or the following, whichever is greater:

  • An entire newspaper article or a page
  • An entire single short story, play, poem, essay or article from a book or periodical issue (including a set of conference proceedings) containing other works
  • An entire entry from an encyclopedia, dictionary, annotated bibliography or similar reference work
  • An entire reproduction of an artistic work (including drawing, sculpture, painting, prints, architectural works of art or works of artistic craftsmanship) from a book or periodical issue containing other works

Please note that all limits are based on a semester time frame. You may not copy the percentages allowed on a weekly basis. Cumulative copying is not allowed.


The Copyright Law has a section called “Non-commercial User-generated Content” (section 29.21) which allows Canadians to use copyrighted materials like videos, music, images, and scanned printed materials to create transformative works and share them publicly with some conditions. You can think of this as the "mash-up" exception.

Uploading Videos Made For Class Assignments


Videos created by students for class may qualify as mash-ups, however, there are some important conditions that must be followed:

  • The copyrighted material is a legitimate copy (e.g. you didn’t use a pirated/illegal copy of the item) which includes using music (ie. pop songs)
  • You didn’t acquire the legitimate material through a contract that prevents using the item in a mashup (e.g. iTunes, iStock Photo)
  • You do not have to break a digital lock to use the material (e.g. you can’t rip a DVD that has encoding that prevents copying)
  • The material is cited, indicating at the very least the source (e.g. website, book, magazine) and the creator (e.g. author, performer).
  • Your video is not for promotional or commercial purposes
  • The material is used to create a transformative work – this new law is meant to encourage creativity and content creation
  • The use of the material in your video will not impact the market for the material (e.g. you’ve used an entire Lady Gaga album in your video which means people can now download the album for free

See the Educational Exemptions page for more information on:

  • Using copyrighted materials in tests & exams
  • Public performance of music & sound recordings
  • Reproducing broadcasts