Website Administration

Public UBC websites vs. UBC learning management systems

There is an important distinction between publicly accessible websites, and websites that are not publicly accessible. UBC’s learning management system is a password protected, secure website that is restricted to and accessible only by UBC students, faculty, and staff. By contrast, most other  websites are publicly accessible, in the sense that anyone may visit them, not just UBC students, faculty, and staff.

Posting short excerpts of material on UBC’s learning management systems may be permitted by one of UBC’s digital licences, or in accordance with the Fair Dealing Requirements (see also the “best practices” under FAQ 3.6), for the purposes of research, private study, education, parody, satire, criticism, review or news reporting. In other situations, you will likely need to obtain consent from the copyright owner.

By contrast, posting a copyrighted work on your own website or some other publicly accessible website would generally be considered to be copyright infringement, unless it was done with the copyright owner’s consent.

For more information about the difference between posting material on publicly-accessible websites versus UBC learning management systems, please see Instructor FAQ 2.10.

Using images on public UBC websites

Because public UBC websites are available for anyone to access, posting someone else’s copyrighted work on such websites would generally not be permitted under fair dealing or the educational exceptions in the Copyright Act. This means that you will typically need to obtain permission from the copyright owner before posting images or other materials on public UBC websites.

However, you do have the option of finding images that have been liberally licensed for reuse or that are in the public domain (which means the copyright has expired or been waived by the copyright holder). Images that have been licensed under a Creative Commons license, for example, have been made available for reuse without seeking permission.

There are some excellent resources for finding these types of images online, including:

  • Wikimedia Commons: A database of nearly 20 million freely usable image, sound, and video files. To find any specific instructions for reusing or attributing images, check the “licensing” section on the image page.
  • Flickr Commons: A wonderful collection of public domain images from a variety of libraries, archives, and museums, including the Library of Congress, NASA, the Getty Research Institute, the Museum of Photographic Arts, the Biodiversity Heritage Library, and many more.
  • Flickr Creative Commons Search: You can also use Flickr’s Advanced Search license filter to locate user-added images that are Creative Commons licensed. Just select the license you would like to find images under from the drop down called “Any License.” Check the copyright information, which can be found beneath the date the image was taken, to locate any specific instructions for using the image. Users may also place copyright conditions in their image descriptions.

For more image resources, have a look at our Image Sources Guide. For information on how to attribute Creative Commons-licensed images, see our Image Citation Guide. And of course, if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to email us at

Using images from external websites on a public UBC site

This will depend on the terms and conditions governing use of the website. A “Terms of Use” or “Terms of Service” link at the bottom of most websites should provide information on if you are required to seek permission to use images from that site, and who to contact if this is the case. Where these notices are provided, they serve as a license to use of the content of a site and may supersede the user rights provisions of the Copyright Act.

If the terms and conditions for a website provide advance permission for you to reuse that website’s content, then be sure to print a copy of the notice for your records.

If there are no terms and conditions on a website, then you should assume that the website’s content is copyrighted, and that you will likely need to obtain permission from the copyright owner before reusing that content on a public UBC site.

Linking and embedding content on public UBC sites

Providing a link is not, at this time, considered making a copy of a resource. Therefore, you may provide a link to an online resource without any copyright concerns. In the same manner, embedding a YouTube or other video – that is, adding a link that will allow you to stream a video from YouTube on your site without actually making a new copy to place on your site – is a good way to provide access to a video without infringing copyright.

Before embedding a video on a UBC site, it is important to ensure that the video has been posted legitimately (i.e., with the copyright owner’s consent). If you have questions about the legitimacy of a given video, please contact us at