Canvas Terms of Use FAQ

Q. I see the name “Instructure” in the Canvas Terms of Use. How is “Instructure” related to Canvas, the new course management system available at Yale? 

Instructure is the educational technology company that developed the Canvas software. 

Q. Does Instructure obtain any intellectual property ownership rights of the content I upload to Canvas? 

Absolutely not. You retain full ownership of all of your intellectual property uploaded to the site.

Q. There is a paragraph in the Canvas Terms of Use that tells me I am giving Instructure the right to, among other things, modify, adapt and publicly display my content. Although I retain full ownership, am I giving Instructure the right to use my content in any manner they see fit to support their business objectives?

Absolutely not. The key phrase in this provision (Section 4.2 Your Content) is “solely for the purposes of operating and providing the Instructure Properties to you and to your Entity’s other Users.” This language is at least as, if not more, favorable than the terms we accept in many technological platforms we use in our daily, personal and professional lives. Although it may seem unnecessary to call this out in a legal agreement, this phrase is simply granting Instructure the right to maintain the content you post on your course site and to make your content available to Yale University students and your teaching staff.

Q. Section 4.2 in the Canvas Terms of Use also requires me to “represent that I (you) have the authority to grant the aforementioned license to Instructure.” How would I know this and what does this mean?

This is asking you to make certain that the content you use on your course site does not violate anyone else’s copyright or anyone else’s rights in the content.  Just as we made certain to protect your intellectual property ownership rights, this clause reminds us we need to respect other’s intellectual property ownership rights. Please visit to learn about the University’s expectations for using other’s content in your course site.

Q. Do I have to use Canvas?

No. You are welcome to use the technology tools that you believe meet your teaching needs more effectively, provided the tools you choose to use comply with University policy and procedures, as well as copyright, privacy and other laws, including those related to accessibility and use of course content by persons with disabilities. Moreover, you may continue using Classes v2 through the end of the Spring 2017 semester. Accordingly, you will not be able to build and distribute an active course site on Classes v2 after the Spring 2017 semester.

The University is making this change to Canvas for several reasons, including:

  1. Instructure’s commitment to accessibility compliance. For example, Canvas was certified by the National Federation of the Blind back in 2010 as “equally accessible to blind and sighted users,” and is working with its community to continually improve in this critical area.
  2. The future of Sakai is uncertain as core members of its open-source community, like Stanford, Indiana and Michigan, move to other platforms, primarily Canvas. 

  3. Surveys indicated student and faculty satisfaction with Classes v2 has been decreasing in recent years. 

To learn about the decision to replace Classes v2 with Canvas, please see, “The Fall 2015 Yale Canvas Pilot: Final Report of the Working Group.

Q. I also see language in the Canvas Terms of Use that sounds like Instructure can change these terms whenever it wants. Is that true?

No. Instructure cannot make any changes that would adversely affect your rights without prior approval.