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Teaching & Classrooms

Learn more about how copyright applies to the use of copyrighted works during your lectures and in your teaching materials.

If, as part of your lectures, you present to your students a literary, musical, dramatic work or cinematograph film such as a YouTube video or movie, this would amount to a performance of the work, and could possibly amount to copyright infringement.

However, Section 23 of the Copyright Act allows for performances of works and other subject matter by students or staff of educational institutions. In order to rely on this exception, the copyright material (limited to literary, musical, dramatic works, cinematograph films, broadcasts, cable programmes and recordings of performances) must be presented on NTU’s premises, in the course of the activities of NTU, and save for musical works, be limited to persons who are taking part in the instruction or are otherwise directly connected with the place where the instruction in given.

However, this defence only covers the performance of the work and not the making of a copy of the work, and will not be a defence to infringement if you make a video recording of the presentation.

Under Section 15(1) of the Copyright Act, a reproduction of a literary work includes a reproduction in the form of a sound recording or cinematograph film of the work, and any record embodying such a recording and any copy of such a film shall be deemed to be a reproduction of the work. Accordingly, a video recording of a lecture at which a literary work is displayed would amount to a reproduction of the literary work.

Notwithstanding the special provision for performance of works or other subject matter for educational institutions under Section 23, this defence does not apply if the lecture is video-recorded. This is because the defence under Section 23 applies only to performance and not copying or reproduction.

If your lectures are pre-recorded and available for access by students online, you should, prior to your lecture, review your lecture slides and materials to ensure that the copyright materials that you have incorporated fall within the permissible limits for multiple communication in order to avoid copyright infringement for communication of the work. This is because the making available of the video recording of the lecture to students as an online lecture will constitute communication of the work.

In general, regardless of whether your teaching materials (which incorporate other copyright works) is to be shared in the classroom or uploaded onto NTU Learn, you should first check whether permission has been granted to use or copy these other copyright works In particular, you should check if there are any terms of use which accompany the work, and which provide for any limitations of use of the work.

Printing multiple copies of your lecture materials for your students would constitute multiple copying and would amount to copyright infringement unless the amount copied falls within the specified statutory limits. In relation to the uploading of teaching materials on NTU Learn, while this would not constitute multiple copying, it would nonetheless constitute communication of works to students. Unless such communication falls under the special provisions for educational institutions under the Copyright Act, such uploading could amount to copyright infringement. See the section on Reasonable Amounts for the prescribed limits for multiple copying and communication.

Do note that the 5% limit under Section 51 only applies to literary and dramatic works. It is only where such works are accompanied by an artistic work for the purpose of explaining the work that you will be allowed to make multiple copies or communicate the artistic work, on the condition that the total amount falls within the 5% limit.

If the work in question is a musical or artistic work, you would have to rely on the statutory licencing regime (and the specified limits) under Section 52 instead. Do note that if such copies are made, NTU must maintain records of the copying or uploading stating the date it was done and that is was on behalf of NTU. Copyright owners are entitled to make a written request for payment within 4 years from the time the records are made.

The special provisions in Sections 51 and 52 do not apply to subject matter other than works, such as audio-visual items or cinematograph films. In this regard, if the amount that is copied is a substantial one, this would amount to copyright infringement unless a fair dealing defence applies.

You should, if possible, refrain from incorporating subject matter other than works (eg. cinematograph films and sound recordings) into your teaching materials. If there is a need to refer to cinematograph films (such as YouTube videos or movies), you can either screen these during your lecture (see the tab on Lectures) or provide students with the title of the cinematograph film and ask them to view it on their own.