March 20, 2020

To:                   Deans, Chairs, and Instructors

From:              David Marshall, Executive Vice Chancellor 

Subject:           Guidance on Copyright of Course Materials at UC Santa Barbara

As faculty prepare to deliver instruction remotely, I am providing a brief review of copyright to help them understand and protect their rights.

Instructors Own the Copyrights to Their Course Materials, Including to Recordings of Their Lectures.

Instructors also own the copyrights to Course Materials they create. Course Materials are materials prepared for use in teaching, and include, but are not limited to, lectures, recordings of such lectures, lecture notes and materials, syllabi, study guides, bibliographies, visual aids, images, diagrams, multimedia presentations, web-ready content, and educational software. As a practical matter, that means that only the instructor, and anyone to whom the instructor has granted permission, may reproduce, distribute or display (post/upload) course materials. See UC 2003 Policy on Ownership of Course Materials. Copyrights to video or audio recordings of lectures made by instructors are owned by instructors.

Courses Taught Remotely Due to COVID-19 Are Not Created Using Exceptional University Resources.

UC Policy on Ownership of Course Materials states that the University may own Course Materials if “Exceptional University Resources” were used to create the materials. Please be assured that courses being taught remotely solely in response to COVID-19 are not created using Exceptional University Resources for purposes of this policy. In any event, in order for the Exceptional University Resources Exception to apply, a signed agreement between the University and instructor specifying copyright ownership would have to be executed.

Your Course Presentations, Including Recordings, May Not Be Distributed, Except in Limited Circumstances

Nobody, including a student, may give, sell, or otherwise distribute recordings of course presentations, except in the following cases:

  • Students enrolled or auditing a course may give their own recordings to other enrolled/auditing students;
  • Faculty may use recordings made by them in compliance with University policy; and
  • Course recordings may be provided to students with a disability as an accommodation. See UC 2005 Policy on Use of Recordings in Course Presentations.

Protect Your Course Materials

The following are steps you can take that will help you protect your materials:

  • Post your materials only on a platform that has been approved by UC Santa Barbara and that is password-protected and accessible only to enrolled or auditing students.
  • Advise students that your Course Materials, including recordings of your course presentations, are protected and that students may not share them except as provided by U.S. copyright law and University policy. You can share this information with students in your first class meeting, on your course website, and in your syllabus. Here is some sample language:

“My lectures and course materials, including PowerPoint presentations, tests, outlines, and similar materials, are protected by U.S. copyright law and by University policy. I am the exclusive owner of the copyright in those materials I create. You may take notes and make copies of course materials for your own use. You may also share those materials with another student who is enrolled in or auditing this course.

You may not reproduce, distribute or display (post/upload) lecture notes or recordings or course materials in any other way — whether or not a fee is charged — without my express prior written consent. You also may not allow others to do so.

If you do so, you may be subject to student conduct proceedings under the UC Santa Barbara Student Code of Conduct.

Similarly, you own the copyright in your original papers and exam essays. If I am interested in posting your answers or papers on the course web site, I will ask for your written permission.”

  • Indicate on the first or every page of your Course Materials (in a header or footer, on PDFs and in GauchoSpace) that they are protected by copyright: “© Faculty Name 2020”
  • Include your UC Santa Barbara email address so that people who want to ask your permission to use your materials will be able to contact you easily.

I hope this guidance is helpful. Please note that this is a guidance document, not policy. It may not address every particular question or situation, and it does not modify or supersede existing policy or law.

We will provide additional guidance to assist the campus community in understanding how copyright laws and University policy apply to materials created by others that instructors may want to use in their teaching.

Thank you for your ongoing support and cooperation as we transition to alternative forms of instruction so our students can continue their studies without interruption. We appreciate all of the extraordinary efforts of our faculty, staff, and students to make this work.

University of California Policy on Ownership of Course Materials
University of California Policy on Use of Recordings of Course Presentations

Henning Bohn, Academic Senate Chair
Alison Butler, Associate Vice Chancellor for Academic Personnel
Jeffrey Stopple, Associate Vice Chancellor for Undergraduate Education
Linda Adler-Kassner, Associate Dean; Faculty Director, Center for Innovative Teaching, Research, and Learning
George Michaels, Executive Director, Instructional Development


Some of this content is adapted from “Rapidly shifting your course from in-person to online” by Nancy Sims © Copyright University of Minnesota Libraries, and licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution- Non-Commercial License. With thanks to UC San Diego, Office of the Executive Vice Chancellor.