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Copyright Resources Guide

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

There are several commercial note-sharing or course-sharing websites on the Internet. For example, Course Hero, OneClass, and StuDocu. These sites allow students to share study materials such as their own lecture notes. Unfortunately, students are posting materials provided by their professors or sharing their previous assignments and tests, which is in violation of the Student Code of Conduct at Spokane Falls Community College. These websites provide incentives such as monetary reward for students to post content that would increase user visits to these sites. There have been reports by SFCC faculty that their course materials are posted on these sites without their consent. 

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

  • The content in some cases (e.g. exams) can help other students to cheat, which is a violation of SFCC's Student Code of Conduct/WAC 132Q-10-210. 
  • 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.
  • Improper use of resources available in Canvas may violate a number of other policies at SFCC

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; students may have greatly varied schema about intellectual property!  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 Canvas are for their own educational use and should not be shared on the Web or externally.* 

*It's up to a faculty's discretion on whether material can be shared outside of class. 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 date that you created the material. You may also include a statement to clarify what students can and cannot do with your material. Here is a suggested statement: 

"The materials provided in class and in Canvas 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 websites such as Course Hero or OneClass. Unauthorized distribution may result in copyright infringement and violation of SFCC 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) Provide information resources on note-sharing sites and other copyright issues 

Here are some resources:

5) Suggest learning support services available 

‚ÄčIn addition to seeking coursework help from you and other professors, refer students to

How can faculty get their materials removed from these sites?

A majority of note-sharing websites have an online form for authors to request removal of their materials. In the US, 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 that uploaded the work.

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

Copyright Information

Spokane Falls Community College Library is grateful to Rachel Bridgewater at Portland Community College, who created the original resource that this guide is adapted from.

"Copyright Resources" by Rachel BridgewaterPortland Community College is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0