Climate Issues and Virtual Class Copyright

April 6, 2020

Dear Students, Instructors, and GSIs, 

We write regarding some important issues that have emerged as we all adapt to our new instructional circumstances: copyright of instructional materials and class climate. 

First, we ask for your partnership in conveying to the community the importance of students conducting themselves in virtual classrooms in a manner that is respectful, especially during this difficult time, while allowing for robust intellectual debate, just as they would in a physical classroom.

Second, we wish to remind the community that instructors own copyright in their course materials.  This means that only the instructor and GSI may reproduce, distribute or display (post/upload) the course materials, with very few exceptions.  We have heard of instances where people are capturing select screenshots of individual pieces of lectures and course materials and then presenting them out of context.  This behavior generally violates copyright law and may also violate the student code of conduct

Like you, we are disheartened to have heard reports from across the country, about individuals joining Zoom meetings to troll or "bomb" lectures. These individuals use Zoom to aggressively disrupt meetings with racist, pornographic, and/or violent messages. Very recently, Zoom bombing incidents have occurred here at Berkeley. These kinds of offensive expressions are particularly harmful during a time when so many are under great stress, and are disruptive to the virtual classrooms we now depend on for learning. 

To guard against potential disturbances to the virtual classroom and seminar environments, we request that you 

Instructors and GSIs should report incidents to These reports will also be forwarded to appropriate campus offices for handling. The University is attentive to reports of Zoom bombing and will take appropriate disciplinary action against registered students or employees who engage in practices which violate the Student Code of Conduct and other campus policies.  

Abuse of virtual classroom spaces may also be reported to appropriate offices on campus, e.g., the Center for Student Conduct. Cyber-related harassment based on protected categories (for example, race, ethnicity, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender, and gender identity) should be reported to the Office for the Prevention of Harassment and Discrimination at If you believe that you have experienced, or witnessed a hate crime or hate-motivated act, you should contact UCPD or UCOP’S Office of Campus Climate.  

For instructors and GSIs, if a problematic incident has occurred in your class, your students will be looking to you for compassion, reassurance, and resources. We realize how difficult this may be, especially if you are the target of the abuse.  Guidance that will help you in this important role will soon be forthcoming on the Instructional Resilience website. The campus also provides confidential counseling to faculty and staff (Be Well at Work/Employee Assistance), and students (Counseling and Psychological Services). Instructors and GSIs needing additional technical assistance should email

In closing, we wish to reiterate how inspirational and heartening it has been to witness the extraordinary efforts over the past six weeks from instructors, GSIs, staff, and students to help maintain and preserve the health and safety of our community while preserving the instructional missions of our campus. We thank you for your dedication and hard work and hope that you and your loved ones are safe and well. 


A. Paul Alivisatos
Executive Vice Chancellor & Provost

Oliver O’Reilly
Chair, Berkeley Division of the Academic Senate

This message was sent to all UC Berkeley faculty, instructors, and GSIs