Unauthorised posting of course materials online by students

Teaching staff own copyright in the course materials they produce. Students must not post course materials onto social media or websites, whether or not they sell it.

There are sites that encourage students to post course materials. While students are only supposed to post material that they have created or for which they have permission to post, in some cases PowerPoint slides and course book material is posted without permission.

If you are concerned that your course materials are being distributed online without your consent, follow the steps outlined below (adapted from Copyright Center of Cornell University).

Searching for reposted course materials

Use a search engine to find infringing material. Example: search for material from ENGWRIT 101. We want to customize the search such that we find content that is related only to the University’s ENGWRIT 101. We want to exclude anything that is on the University’s web servers to reduce the false-positive rate.

  1. Log in to your Google account. Either create a new account just for this process or use an existing one.
  2. Go to Google Alerts.
  3. On this page, configure a search that will periodically report on the content that you are searching for.
  4. In the "Search terms:" field, enter one of the following, replacing "ENGWRIT 101" with your course name.
    1. ENGWRIT 101 course notes auckland -site:auckland.ac.nz
    2. ENGWRIT 101 lecture notes auckland -site:auckland.ac.nz
    3. ENGWRIT 101 exam auckland -site:auckland.ac.nz
    4. ENGWRIT 101 problem set auckland -site:auckland.ac.nz
    5. ENGWRIT 101 homework auckland -site:auckland.ac.nz
  5. For "Type:", choose "Everything".
  6. For "How often:", choose how often you want to see a report.
  7. For "Volume:", you should choose "Only the best results". Otherwise, you will have to sort through a large number of repeated entries or incorrect results.
  8. For "Deliver to:", choose the email address you are logged in as. Check this account for results.
  9. If there are unique or uncommon words or phrases in your content, include those in your searches. For example, if a particular class in ENGWRIT 101 focused on a "widget", put the following in "Search items:":
    ENGWRIT 101 widget auckland -site:auckland.ac.nz

Requesting removal of infringing materials

Course Hero is the most popular United States site that has New Zealand content. Because it is based in the United States you will need to follow the US Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) process to have content removed.

While New Zealand and other overseas countries don’t have a DMCA, this process and form letter will be effective for sites in other jurisdictions.

To have materials removed from a web site under the DMCA, the copyright owner or agent must write to the infringing site's DMCA agent and/or Internet Service Provider (ISP).

To look up the correct address of an ISP if the site does not provide contact information for their DMCA agent:

  1. Start at www.who.is
    Type in the infringing site's address, for example, coursehero.com
  2. This search tells you which of several registrars has the information you need. Look for the Whois Server; for example, the registrar might be GoDaddy.com, and the Whois Server would be listed as whois.godaddy.com
  3. Go to the Whois Server address, and type in the infringing site's address again. Complete contact information will be shown.
  4. You then need to send a DMCA Takedown Notice to the DMCA agent or ISP. The notice must include the information specified in 17 U.S.C. 512(c).

Sample DMCA Copyright Notice Claim

To: [DMCA Agent]

My name is [INSERT NAME]. A website that your company owns (according to WHOIS information) is infringing at least one copyright owned by me. [Description of work, e.g., paper/powerpoint slides/course materials] was copied onto your servers without my permission. My original [description of work], to which I own the exclusive copyrights, is entitled [title of work] and can be found at:


The unauthorized and infringing copy can be found at:


This letter is official notification under Section 512(c) of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act ("DMCA"). I request that you immediately remove the infringing material identified above from your servers. I request that you immediately notify the infringer of this notice and tell them to cease any further posting of infringing material to your server in the future.

Please be advised that the law requires you, as a service provider, to "expeditiously remove or disable access to" the infringing material upon receiving this notice. Noncompliance may result in a loss of immunity for liability under the DMCA.

I have a good faith belief that the use of the material on your web site is not authorized by the copyright owner, its agent, or the law. Furthermore, the information contained in the notification is accurate, and, under penalty of perjury, I certify both that the information contained in the notification is accurate and that I have the authority to act on behalf of the owner of the copyright.

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