Copyright for teaching at VU: Websites, wikis and blogs

What are 'Internet Resources'

For copyright purposes 'internet resources' are any materials retrieved from the world wide web, such as:

  • Material sourced from public websites
  • Social Media
  • Wikis & Blogs 

Using websites, wikis and blogs for teaching

In this section you will find information regarding websites, wikis and blogs. Material found on the internet, including wikis, blogs and websites, is covered by copyright and not everything on a website is free to download.

Rights holders may use contracts as a mechanism to restrict what people can do with their content, but it is unclear whether contracts can override exceptions in the Copyright Act.

Always check any ‘Conditions of use’ ('Terms of use', 'Terms and Conditions') before downloading from a web page.

Key points

  • Material sourced from the internet is subject to copyright
  • Material on a given website/platform may also be subject to the terms and conditions, or terms of use, of that website

Terms and conditions on websites

  • Content owners use licence agreements to govern how digital content may be used
  • Websites often use terms and conditions regarding use and you should always check what is allowed and check any copyright statements
  • Whether in the digital environment or offline, people can be bound by contracts, whether or not they “sign” a document.

Websites will usually set out terms and conditions as to how content can be used (see example, below).  Whether or not such conditions are binding on someone who visits the site will depend on certain factors such as:

  • Whether the visitor to the site was given sufficient notice of the terms
  • Whether the visitor accepted them
  • Whether each party receives something of value under the terms of agreement.


  • Be aware that some sites may include third party content without permission for that use
  • Use a reputable, official or legitimate website - for instance, go to the source of a work when viewing images on Google
  • Poor quality material usually indicates that it is infringing material and taken from elsewhere.  A copyright owner will usually provide the best quality of their work
  • Look at the context of the work - in most cases a full version of a book will not be made available for download.  Be suspicious.  Sometimes you may access a trailer or single episode or single chapter
  • Sometimes copyright holders allow you to stream their material to view but you will not be able to download
  • Privacy is an issue when using wiki and blog materials and you will need to ensure that you do not breach anyone’s privacy by including portrait photographs or contact details in anything that is used from one of these sites.

What you can do


  • Download and use material if permitted under the 'terms and conditions' or 'terms of use' of a given website (if in doubt, check with your College Librarian,or the Copyright Officer), with proper attribution
  • Download and use material made available under a suitable a Creative Commons licence, with proper attribution
  • Download 10% of a work for teaching use, with proper attribution
  • Stream some works if allowed under the terms and conditions, with proper attribution

What you can't do


  • Download and use whole works for teaching unless they are in the public domain or have a relevant Creative Commons licence
  • View commercial films or videos if not using for teaching in a classroom. If available on YouTube you must check copyright status
  • Use material from someone's blog without checking terms and conditions of use.  You may need permission
  • Print documents which are in pdf format and available on a site without express permission 
  • Save to disk and electronically archive pdf documents that are not “read only”.

Example of website terms and conditions

Example: Terms and Conditions of 'The Guardian' website:

The 'terms and conditions' tab for a website can usually be found in small print at the very bottom of a web page and if you click on the image below you will be taken to the page giving details of the terms of use:

Look for the particular terms and conditions relating to 'copyright', or - as in the example above - "Use of material" If you read this information you will see that The Guardian's material is available for private use only unless you use a reasonable portion under s113P for education purposes (the above example is reproduced under this section).