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Copyright Guide

This guide helps CSCU faculty and staff understand copyright law and apply this understanding to exercise their rights to make academic use of materials.

What are note-sharing websites and why are they an issue?

There are several commercial note-, exam-, and course-sharing websites on the Internet; for example, Chegg, Course Hero, OneClass, and StuDocu. These sites allow students to share professors' lecture notes, assignments, exams, and other course materials. These sites provide incentives such as monetary reward for students to post content that would increase user visits to these sites. Unfortunately, students are posting materials provided by their professors without the educational institution's or faculty's consent

There are several problems associated with posting course materials to these websites or elsewhere on the Internet: 

  • Using posted content on these sites can help other students to cheat or plagiarize work, which is a violation of your institution’s academic integrity policy and therefore, may lead to disciplinary action.
  • It is a copyright infringement to copy and share a work unless there is permission from the rights holder or the use is permitted by the copyright law.

Students don't always understand when their use of these sites might be a violation of policy or ethically unsound.

What can faculty do to educate students about these sites?

It is helpful to educate students on the ethical and legal uses of your course materials. Education may help prevent students from posting course materials on the Internet. Here are some strategies:

1) Talk to your students about the course materials

At the start of a term, mention to your students that the course materials provided by you or posted on a learning management system are for their own educational use and should not be shared on the Web or externally. In the end, it is up to a faculty's discretion on whether material can be shared outside of class; however, for third-party material, there may be copyright implications related to distribution.

2) Include a © symbol and/or statement on the course materials

Add the copyright symbol, your name, and the date that you created the material. You may also include a statement in your syllabus to clarify what students can and cannot do with your material. Here is a suggested statement: 

"The materials provided in class and in Blackboard are protected by copyright. They are intended for the personal, educational uses of students in this course and should not be shared externally or on course material-sharing websites (e.g., Chegg, Course Hero, or OneClass). Unauthorized distribution may result in copyright infringement and violation of [your institution’s name] academic integrity policies."

3) Cite any third-party sources used in the course materials

Provide attribution to the sources you are using to demonstrate good scholarly practice and academic integrity to your students. Talk to your students about your ethical decision-making when it comes to the use of third party sources.

4) Suggest learning support services available 

​In addition to seeking coursework help from you and other professors, refer students to the your library for research and citation help and Writing Center for learning and writing support.

How can faculty and staff get their materials removed from these sites?

Contact the Office of Student Rights or Student Services office at your institution and ask them to talk through next steps and assist you in getting your materials removed.

Most note-sharing sites have an online form for authors to request removal of their materials. In the U.S. where many of these sites are hosted, online service providers are required by legislation to remove a copyrighted work upon request of the rights holder and provide a notice to the user who uploaded the work.

The links below take you to the online forms of several course material sharing websites to request content removal: 

“Open CSCU” by the Connecticut State Colleges & Universities is licensed under a CC BY 4.0 International License. The individual items included are subject to their respective license provisions. This Copyright Guide is a derivative of Copyright Resources by Portland Community College Library (PCC) and a derivation of the PCC work, Copyright Resources by Naugatuck Valley Community College. The original work, "Copyright Resources," is licensed by PCC under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. Nothing in this Copyright Guide should be construed as legal advice.