Staff sometimes find that students have posted course materials on websites where they can share notes, some of which offer financial benefits if their upload is popular. Examples of such sites are Course Hero, StuDocu or Scribd.
As a general rule, students may upload work that is entirely their own creation or if they have permission to do so.
However, teaching staff own copyright in the course materials they produce; these materials may also contain third-party content licensed by the University for our own use in teaching. Students must not post such course materials to social media or websites, whether or not they sell it.
Misuse of material may result in disciplinary action. Consult the Academic Misconduct Information for Staff.
Advice for staff
- Contact the University copyright officer if you find material from your classes online:
- Email email@example.com
- Be proactive and talk to your students about appropriate use of materials in class. This can be incorporated into talking about related topics such as plagiarism, academic practice, professional standards, or appropriate use of sensitive information.
- Take an educational approach. Help your students understand about copyright, privacy and educational issues around such use of others' work without permission. Why do they use such material? Tell them to critically evaluate such material, which may be out of date or incorrect. For your own part, does use of such sites indicate that students see a gap in course materials that is filled by such sites?
- Explain that inappropriate use of course materials can result in disciplinary action by the University or even be subject to legal action, whether relating to copyright or some other expected standard of behaviour. Adherence to the Copyright Act is part of the declaration students complete on enrolment. Blackboard and eReserve have copyright warnings where students access readings.
- As well as copyright and course materials, students must not record lectures without permission. Details about this, including the rights and responsibilities of staff, are in the policy on recording teaching.
Steps for removing content from filesharing websites
Contact the University copyright officer to discuss the site and the material in question:
- A description of the work and some proof of ownership of the original material.
- An explanation of why the work is a breach of copyright.
- A declaration that you own the copyright or are authorised to act on their behalf.
Some websites do not have this process or simply do not respond to such notices. It may be possible for content to be removed from the indexes of search engines; that is, you make a request via a form and if the search provider accepts your request, it will not display results for the website in question if someone searches for your material. While the material itself is not removed, it is harder to find. As an example, Google has a form to remove material from its various services: