Copyright in teaching and learning at HKU

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Copyright in teaching and learning at HKU

Course materials for MOOC

Given that HKU courses offered on massively open online course (MOOC) platform are open to the public, copyright considerations must be made when selecting study materials. HKUL licensed resources, such as subscribed e-Books, e-Journals and databases, are mainly for access by current HKU staff and students. Such resources cannot be used without permission.

To avoid copyright and licence infringements, HKUx MOOC professors are advised to adopt materials on open access or in the public domain. Materials under a Creative Commons licence are also recommended. CC licences will facilitate instructors to decide on the extent to which the materials may be copied, distributed, edited or re-used. Find out more about the different kinds of CC licences. If copyrighted materials are deemed to be used in a HKUx course, permission has to be obtained from the copyright holder.

Explore the free resources for HKUx courses:


  • DOAB: Directory of Open Access Books
    Contains nearly 2,000 academic books on open access from 64 publishers. Subject covers from arts, architecture, business and economics, health science, language and literature, law, social sciences, philosophy, religion, political science, science, engineering and technology.
  • HathiTrust Digital Library
    A collection of over 1.8 million volumes in the public domain from academic and research institutions. Some titles date back to pre-1500, with more recent titles in 2009. Check out the subject coverage of this collection.
  • Open Library
    Provides access to over 200,000 eBook titles on world's classic literature.
  • Open Textbook Catalog
    Contains a small collection of free textbooks. This site is provided by the University of Minnesota.
  • Project Gutenberg
    Provides over 45,000 free ebooks on various subject areas.



Although images may be provided for free, instructors are advised to read the conditions of use under each website before adopting the material in the course.

  • Creative Commons: Provides an interface to search for images from various sources, such as Google Images, Flickr. Images found, however, may not be under a CC licence.
  • New York Public Library Digital Collections: Provides a collection of free and open access images from The New York Public Library. The collection includes illuminated manuscripts, historical maps, vintage posters, rare prints, photographs and more.
  • Photos Public Domain: Over 1 million photos available.
  • Pixabay: Provides images free of copyrights.
  • Public Domain Images: Images can be searched or browsed by various themes.
  • Public Domain Review: Contains a curated collection of images on open access.

Seeking permission

For copyrighted materials to be used in a MOOC course, permission has to be obtained from the copyright holder. The following websites might be of help:

  • CASH (Composers and Authors Society of Hong Kong Ltd): CASH’s main objective is to administer and enforce collectively the rights of composers and authors of musical works subsisting under the copyright law of Hong Kong SAR.
  • HKRRLS (Hong Kong Reprographic Rights Licensing Society): HKRRLS is affiliated with the International Federation of Reproduction Rights Organisations (IFRRO), and serves as a convenient channel to obtain the permission to legally reproduce copyright material published in Hong Kong and overseas.
  • PPSEL (Phonographic Performance (South East Asia) Limited: A licensing body in Hong Kong representing the interests of copyright owners globally.
  • Sherpa/Romeo: Provides information on copyright holder of journals and the accompanying copyright policies.