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Copyright at Okanagan College

Using copyrighted material in course slides for display only:

The Copyright Act's exceptions for educational institutions (section 29.4) allows you to "reproduce a work, or do any other necessary act, in order to display it" in a class for teaching purposes, as long as there is no commercial version available that is appropriate for the use. This exception does not cover the distribution of copies of copyrighted work, in electronic or paper form.

Using images in course materials to be distributed to students

Where is the image from?

Images available online

An educational exception in the Copyright Act (section 30.04) allow you to reproduce and communicate works available on the Internet for educational purposes to students enrolled in a class (e.g., handing out the work in hardcopy, posting the work on a learning management system), provided that:

  1. The works are available online openly and not protected by “digital locks” such as a paywall or password-protection.
  2. There is no clearly visible notice specifically prohibiting the intended use of the work (this notice needs to be more than just the copyright symbol “©”).
  3. The work has not been made available on the Internet in violation of the copyright owner’s rights.
  4. The work is cited when you use it, with the source of the materials and the name of the author or creator if their name is available.

Images from a book or other print source

Educational exceptions allow for using copyrighted works for display, but not for distribution. For distributing materials you may use copyrighted images if they fall under fair dealing guidelines. 

Fair Dealing

According to Okanagan College's Fair Dealing Guidelines, a short excerpt in relation to images could be:

  • Up to 10% of a copyright-protected work (i.e. a portion of an image)
  • An entire artistic work (including a painting, print, photograph, diagram, drawing, map, chart, and plan) from a copyright-protected work containing other artistic works (i.e. one photograph in a book containing multiple images)

Using images in conference presentations and outside the class

If you are presenting at a conference that is:

  • not for profit;
  • for educational purposes; and
  • held on Okanagan College premises for an audience primarily of students;

then you can display or distribute materials without permission if your use falls under the Okanagan College Fair Dealing Guidelines or another educational exception in the Canadian Copyright Act.

If the criteria above are not met, then using copyright-protected materials in a conference presentation is not generally covered by educational exceptions in the Copyright Act. A fair dealing analysis can be done to assess whether certain copying and use of material at a conference would be permissible. If your intended use of the materials does not fall under an exception or an existing licence, you can seek permission from the copyright holder, or use an image with an open license, such as a Creative Commons License.

This section was adapted from the USask Authors and Creators: Conferences page which is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.5 Canada Licence 

Many online image collections have ways to limit to Creative Commons license, or other open licenses.


The Copyright Act does not specify any citation requirements beyond the source of the material used and, if available, the name of the creator (ie: Creator, Source). Image citations should meet the same requirements as a text citation; that is, a reader should be able to find the source of the image, and the image itself, based on the information in the citation.

The following are examples of how to provide image attributions without using a specific style guide. Please refer to the citation practices of your discipline for more specific details (ie. APA or MLA).

Creative Commons images

All Creative Commons licenses require attribution. The basic rule is to attribute with: Title, Author, Source and License

For example, to provide attribution for this image from flickr:


"Creative Commons" by Kristina Alexanderson is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Images from print and electronic publications

If you are not following a citation style such as APA or MLA, an attribution for an image from a published source requires, at minimum, the creator of the image and the source of the image. It is good practice to also include the image title. The general format would be: Creator, Title, source.

Images from online sources

Check the website’s terms of use (or copyright/ permissions section) to determine if the image is available for use and for any specific attribution requirements. If no specific attribution requirements are indicated then the standard “creator, title, source” (with the source being a URL to the image webpage) applies.

Note: Many websites and blogs use others’ materials without permission. When considering using an image from a website, double check the website owner is the copyright holder, or has permission to use and share that image. It is not always easy to identify who is the true copyright holder of an image so use your judgment. Is it reasonable to assume the website owner is the image copyright owner?

Information obtained from or through this site does not constitute legal advice, but is provided as guidelines for using works for educational purposes.

The Copyright at Okanagan College website is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

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