The University respects copyright and other intellectual property rights as enforced in Hong Kong and urges its staff and students to do its best to comply with the applicable copyright laws, regulations and guidelines, and suggest precautionary measures. The following is the guideline for using copyrighted material for teaching and learning purposes.

Ownership of Copyright of Your Work

CUHK Staff

The copyright of teaching materials produced by staff members in the course of the University’s employment or with the use of University equipment, facilities or other resources belongs to CUHK. However, the University will, subject to any contractual obligations of the University, grant a free licence to the staff to use such materials for non-commercial teaching and research purposes under the Policy on Intellectual Property. Please refer to the CUHK Policy on Intellectual Property (para 5.3) for details.

CUHK Thesis and Dissertation

Before September 2008, CUHK retained the copyright of all theses and dissertations of its postgraduate students. Any person(s) intending to use part or the whole of any thesis or dissertation submitted before September 2008 in a publication has to seek permission from the Dean of the Graduate School.

Since September 2008, the authors of theses or dissertations hold the copyright. However, to provide wider accessibility of theses or dissertations for scholastic and academic purposes, all postgraduate students have to agree to grant CUHK a worldwide irrevocable, non-exclusive right to digitize and make their work available for scholastic and academic purposes provided that proper acknowledgment of authorship is given.

Fair Dealing Exemption

Under the current Copyright Ordinance, copying in whole or a substantial part of a work without the agreement of the copyright owner could incur civil or criminal liability. Some copying, known as fair dealing, is permitted for educational establishments. To enjoy “fair dealing”, please refer to copyright exemption – fair dealing for details.

If the fair dealing for education exemption is not applicable, and you still wish to use copyrighted material for giving or receiving instruction, you need to:

  • Seek permission from the copyright holder –  Even when using your own content, for example an article written by you, if published copyright will probably have been assigned to the publisher who may or may not allow the work to be used in another work, or
  • Use material already available under a Creative Commons license or in a public domain

Please also refer to the following guideline for using copyrighted material for instructional purpose:

Photocopying of Printed Works

Under the fair dealing exemption of the existing Copyright Ordinance, non-profit-making educational establishments or students are allowed to photocopy literary, dramatic, musical and artistic works to a reasonable extent for giving or receiving instruction where no relevant licensing schemes are available.

The extent of permissible photocopying of printed works various with different literary, dramatic, musical and artistic works. Details can be found at Guidelines for Photocopying of Printed Works by Not-for-profit Educational Establishments (pages 4-6).

The photocopying notice is available in the library to alert users about the restrictions on photocopying.

The exemption does not apply to printed course pack production, and if licenses under licensing schemes are available in respect of the relevant work. Please refer to the web site of the licensing bodies for the licenses granted by them. CUHK has signed agreement with HKRRLS regarding printed course pack production.

Private Study and Research

Hong Kong’s Copyright Ordinance allows fair dealing in any type of copyright work for the purpose of research or private study. All the conditions that determine whether the dealing with a work is fair dealing shall apply. Please refer to copyright exemption – fair dealing or IPD’s Copyright in Education in Hong Kong.

Licensing Bodies in Hong Kong

Different licensing schemes are offered by different licensing bodies in Hong Kong. Please refer to their web sites for details.

Use of Library Materials

The Library duly observes some strict provisions in Hong Kong’s Copyright Ordinances. The guidelines below are compiled to provide Faculty and students with general advice on how to avoid infringing copyright laws in the use of print, non-print and electronic resources of the Library:

Avoiding Plagiarism

Plagiarism is copying a substantial part of a work without proper acknowledgement of the source, an act of using others’ materials as one’s own. It is a kind of academic dishonesty. It is an act of copyright infringement if the copyright of the work in question has not expired or you have not sought any copyright permission in using the work.

The University places very high importance on academic honesty. Detailed guidance can be found in this guideline: Honesty in Academic Work: A Guide for Students and Teachers.

To avoid plagiarism, you are advised to:

  • Keep a good record of sources used
  • Paraphrase long quotations and passages
  • Limit verbatim use of source material
  • Cite the source in case of doubt. Please go to citing sources for guidance on how to cite sources.

Creating eLearning Content for CUHK students

When creating eLearning material for a specific course for CUHK students, please follow these dos and don’ts:


  • Use CU eLearning System. Hong Kong educational establishments must adopt security measures to restrict access to the third party copyrighted material to persons who give or receive instruction in a specified course of study, and to persons who maintain or manage the network.
  • Ensure any third party copyrighted material is only stored in CU eLearning System for a period necessary for the purposes of giving or receiving instruction in the specified course of study, in any event no longer than 12 consecutive months.
  • Link to the original source of third party copyrighted material licensed by the University rather than upload content into CU eLearning System. Third party copyrighted material can include online articles, videos, book chapters etc. available via CUHK Library. The Library has guidance on how to link to the electronic resources. But first,
  • Check that you are allowed to link to this third party copyrighted material. CUHK Library’s A-Z of Databases provides a link to a resource’s license agreement, which states what is permissible for the particular resource.
  • For other third party copyrighted material it is preferable to either:
    • Use content from a source that is open access and already copyright cleared. Please refer to this list of potential sources of open access material.
    • Seek permission from the publisher or copyright holder to use third party copyrighted material. This can take months and may cost. You are advised to keep a record of any correspondence.
    • If the third party copyrighted material is in print format, contact CUHK’s Copyright Clearing Office.
    • Acknowledge third party copyrighted material authorship in all cases.
    • Seek consent from participants when recording material to be included in eLearning content. Do ensure they understand the copyright of content created belongs to CUHK and CUHK may license the material for use by others. The content may appear on CUHK’s website and elsewhere.
  • Seek help.



  • Create textbook or course pack substitutes, including the compilation of scanned material from different chapters and articles from different books and journals
  • Link to websites which contain material that infringes copyright.
  • Use third party copyrighted material if you have sought permission and failed to get a response. Seek an alternative.
  • Include CUHK students or students’ work in the eLearning material you are creating.

Please also consult the eLearning Policy at CUHK for details.


MOOCs (Mass Open Online Course) are free online courses provided by different institutions for anyone with internet access to select the one they are interested to. Since 2013, the University has joined Coursera and provides several courses in areas of humanities, economics, education and engineering to world learners. KEEPCourse allows you to access more than 50,000 online courses from top institutions and specialist organisations. Please refer to the following for the courses available and the terms of use.

Coursera is a for-profit company. The fair dealing exemption for third party copyrighted materials does not apply. It means that MOOCs on Coursera cannot make use of the third party copyrighted material licensed by the CUHK Library.

If your MOOCs have to use third party copyrighted materials, you are advised to:

  • Use open access resources below to create MOOC content;
  • Seek permission from copyright owner of the materials

In all cases, please attribute the original source.

Open Access Resources for e-Learning Content

Since MOOCs are offered to the outside world, materials such as library subscribed e- resources that restricted to the use by current CUHK staff and students should not be used without seeking permission. Please read the library guidelines for compliance with the copyright laws in the use of library resources.

Instead of using third party copyrighted material, you are advised to use the following open access resources that are already copyright-cleared.

Mixed Media

  • DOER – Directory of Open Educational Resources – Open educational resources for e-books and online courses from Commonwealth universities and educational institutions
  • Harvard’s Open Collection Project – an virtual collection consisting of digitized images of books, serials, pamphlets, photographs, manuscripts, and catalogs
  • Internet Archive – a library of millions of free books, movies, software, music, and more
  • OAIster – a database of various types of open access digital resources
  • Public Domain Review – provides a collection of images, books, films, audio and animated Gifs fallen into the public domain


E-Books and e-Theses

  • CUHK Electronic Theses & Dissertations Collection – holds more than 13,000 full text of CUHK theses and dissertations at research degree level in both English and Chinese
  • Directory of Open Access Books – a searchable index of peer-reviewed books published under open access with links to the full-text at publisher websites or repositories
  • EThOS – UK Theses & Dissertations from the British Library
  • Global Text Project – publishes open content electronic textbooks
  • Google Books – allows search for free full-text books
  • HathiTrust Digital Library – offers a collection of millions of titles in the public domain
  • Online Books Page – listing of more than 35,000 free web-accessible books in a variety of disciplines from the University of Pennsylvania
  • Open Access Directory (OAD) – Publishers of OA Books – This extensive list of open access book publishers provides resources for finding books in a variety of fields
  • Open Educational Resources – provides a detailed list of open source textbook
  • Open Library – Provides access to over 200,000 eBook titles on world’s classic literature
  • Open SI – an online portal for manuscript submission management and open access publication of Smithsonian Institution Scholarly Press’ scholarly series and proceedings published after October 2013
  • Open Textbook Catalog – contains a small collection of free textbooks provided by the University of Minnesota
  • Open Thesis – a free repository of theses, dissertations, and other academic documents
  • Project Gutenberg – contains thousands of books in the public domain
  • World Digital Library – international collection of texts supported by UNESCO and developed by a team at the US Library of Congress in collaboration with partner institutions in many countries



  • arXiv – open access to e-prints in science, engineering, computer science, finance and statistics
  • BioMed Central – provide access to open access journals in science and medicine
  • Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) – an online directory that indexes and provides access to quality open access, peer-reviewed journals
  • Google Scholar – search for journal articles and scholarly content from the web, but the availability of full text depends on whether the resource is open for access
  • PLOS (Public Library of Science) – a nonprofit publisher and advocacy organization founded to accelerate progress in science and medicine by leading a transformation in research communication
  • PubMed Central – a free full-text archive of biomedical and life sciences journal literature at the U.S. National Institutes of Health’s National Library of Medicine (NIH/NLM)
  • SHERPA / RoMEO – a searchable database of publisher’s policies regarding the self- archiving of journal articles on the web and in Open Access repositories


Images and Audio-Visual Resources