Skip to main content

Copyright: FAQS

Copyright Basics

All University of Lethbridge faculty, students, and staff must comply with the Canadian Copyright Act, and with the terms of use of open and institutional license agreements. The Copyright Act is the federal legislation in Canada that lays out what you can and can’t do with other people’s copyright works. Copyright owners may choose to license their works under a Creative Commons license that protects copyright while promoting certain public (open) uses of the works. The University Library also holds license agreements with copyright owners that give you limited usage rights for certain content such as a particular publisher's subscription-based electronic journals.
 
To determine whether your desired use of a work is permissible, you need to consider whether the use is in compliance with a license covering the work in question if one exists, or the Copyright Act. The Copyright Permissions Flow Chart provides guidance on the questions you need to ask and answer. If your desired use of a copyright-protected work is substantial and is not covered by any agreement, license, or the Copyright Act, you’ll need to obtain permission for what you want to do from the copyright owner.

Copyright protects tangible expressions of original ideas in the form of literary, artistic, dramatic, or musical works, as well as other subject-matter comprising sound recordings, performers' performances, and communication signals. This encompasses a wide range of material that includes books, newspaper and journal articles, photographs, charts, paintings, CDs, DVDs, software, databases, websites, live and recorded performances of works, and televised programs.

A work protected by copyright may be published or unpublished, and may exist in any physical format that is fixed or tangible. Note that only original expressions of ideas are protected by copyright, not ideas or concepts alone. This means, for example, that while an original book, painting, film, or song may be protected by copyright, the titles of such works are not. Note also that the Copyright Act defines copyright in relation to a work as the sole rights to produce or reproduce, perform in public or publish "the work or any substantial part thereof."

Copyright protection exists automatically when an original work is created. In general, copyright protection in Canada continues for 50 years after the end of the calendar year of the creator’s death, although some exceptions may apply. When you want to use a particular work in Canada, a reasonable approach is to assume that the work is protected by copyright unless there is a clear indication to the contrary, or the creator's death occurred at least 50 years ago.

The duration of copyright varies across different countries. Although copyright in Canada generally lasts for the life of the creator plus 50 years after the end of the calendar year of his or her death, copyright duration in other countries may be longer (e.g., in the United States and Europe, copyright generally lasts for the life of the creator plus 70 years). In addition, some exceptions may apply that are dependent on factors such as the type of work, and whether the work is individually or jointly created. The copyright durations specified in the Copyright Act apply to all works used in Canada, including those created in countries other than Canada.

The Copyright Act gives copyright owners a set of rights pertaining to their original works that includes the rights to copy and translate their works, and to authorize such acts by others. Copyright owners' rights are qualified by exceptions that balance their interests with the public interest. The exceptions to copyright infringement in the Copyright Act permit certain limited uses of copyright works without copyright owner permission. Some exceptions are available to all users and cover specific purposes that include research, private study, and education, while the availability of others is limited to specific categories of users such as educational institutions.

Fair dealing is an exception to copyright infringement that permits you to use a substantial part of a work without seeking the copyright owner's permission if i) your purpose is research, private study, criticism, review, news reporting, education, parody, or satire, and ii) your use of the work is fair. Because "substantial part" and "fair dealing" are not defined in the Copyright Act, determination of whether a substantial part of a work has been used, and whether a use of a work is fair will always depend on the specific facts relevant to the use.

The Supreme Court of Canada1 has described what a "substantial part" of a work is in the following way:
 
A substantial part of a work is a flexible notion. It is a matter of fact and degree. 'Whether a part is substantial must be decided by its quality rather than by its quantity.' . . . As a general proposition, a substantial part of a work is a part of the work that represents a substantial portion of the author's skill and judgment expressed therein.


Assessing Fair Dealing

To determine if a particular dealing with a work is likely to be fair, the Supreme Court of Canada2 provided the following two-part analysis framework that considers qualitative and quantitative factors.

1. Is the use for a purpose enumerated in the Copyright Act's fair dealing provision?
2. If a fair dealing purpose applies, is the dealing, on the whole, fair based on factors such as
  • purpose: what is the ultimate purpose of the intended end-user? what is the real motive for copying? is the purpose commercial or non-commercial?
  • character: are single or multiple copies made? is the copying distributed widely or narrowly? what is the customary copying practice in the trade or industry?
  • amount: is the whole work copied or just a (substantial) part?
  • alternatives: could a non-copyrighted equivalent be used to achieve the same ultimate purpose?
  • nature of the work: is the work confidential? if unpublished and not confidential, is there a public interest in disseminating the work more widely?
  • effect: will the copy or copies likely compete with the original work?

It is not necessary for your use to meet every one of these factors in order to be fair, and no single factor is determinative in itself. In assessing whether your dealing with a work is fair, you should look at the factors as a whole to determine if, on balance, the dealing is fair.

Also keep in mind that fair dealing is format neutral. The Supreme Court of Canada has recently reaffirmed the principle of "technological neutrality" which "seeks to have the Copyright Act applied in a way that operates consistently, regardless of the form of media involved, or its technological sophistication" (SOCAN v. Bell, 2012 SCC 36).

The University's Guidelines for Copying under Fair Dealing provides a basic guide to copying that is likely to qualify as fair dealing as well as copying that is not allowed under fair dealing. In addition, a poster by the Canadian Association of Research Libraries explains some Myths & Facts about fair dealing in Canada. For more guidance on how to apply the fair dealing factors to your particular circumstances, please contact the University Copyright Advisor.

1Cinar Corporation v. Robinson, 2013 SCCC 73.
2CCH Canadian Ltd. v. Law Society of Upper Canada, 2004 SCC 13.

Yes. As of November 7, 2012, when the majority of Bill C-11 amendments came into force, education is a fair dealing purpose enumerated in the Copyright Act along with research, private study, criticism, review, news reporting, parody, and satire. Whether a particular dealing with a work is fair should be determined by applying the six-factor fair dealing framework proposed by the Supreme Court of Canada.

As the Copyright Act does not mention "teaching," prior to November 7, 2012, the potentially applicable fair dealing purposes relating to copying of works for use in instructional settings were criticism and review. Note that fair dealing for the purposes of criticism or review requires you to mention the author (if provided) and source of the work in order to be considered fair dealing.

The Supreme Court of Canada's July 12, 2012, affirmative decision on "whether photocopies made by teachers to distribute to students as part of class instruction can qualify as fair dealing under the Copyright Act" (2012 SCC 37, para1) is particularly notable. The decision took into account the six fair dealing factors laid out in a previous Supreme Court of Canada decision (2004 SCC 13). For U of L instructors this means that copying short excerpts for distribution to students as class handouts may qualify as fair dealing if the copying, on balance, is fair according to the six factors. Consult the University's Guidelines for Copying under Fair Dealing or contact the University Copyright Advisor for assistance in assessing whether fair dealing applies to the copies you wish to make.

The public domain is the realm of ideas and works that are free for everyone to use, remix, and disseminate as they wish. In the public domain are works in which copyright has expired or has never subsisted, or works for which copyright owners have made a clear declaration that copyright will not be asserted. For example, consider the works authored by William Shakespeare about 400 years ago when copyright law did not exist. Today his original works are in the public domain, which means anyone may use or copy those works without permission. At the same time, many published editions of Shakespeare's works contain added original materials authored in recent times by other individuals (such as footnotes, prefaces, critical essays), which are protected by copyright because the authors used skill and judgment in creating the new material. This creates new copyright in the added original material, but not in the underlying text of the original works.

It is important to distinguish between works that are in the public domain and works that are publicly accessible, such as material freely accessible on the Internet. Much of the material you may freely access online is protected by copyright, but you may be able to use it without the copyright owner's permission if the amount you need is insubstantial or your purpose is covered by fair dealing. If you plan to use a publicly accessible work without the copyright owner's permission, you should first make sure your use falls within fair dealing, or is covered under the permitted uses stated in the Terms of Use or Legal Notices section applicable to the work. When in doubt, you should obtain the copyright owner's permission for your use.

See the Copyright Term and Canada’s Public Domain chart prepared by the University of Alberta Copyright Office for an overview of the numerous factors applicable to the determination of whether a work used in Canada is in the public domain. For a similarly complex overview of the public domain within the context of United States copyright law, see Copyright Term and the Public Domain in the United States provided by P.B. Hirtle at Cornell University's Copyright Information Center.

Yes, section 12 of the Copyright Act states that copyright in Canadian federal government publications belongs to the Crown for a period that lasts for a period of 50 years following the end of the calendar year of publication. Prior to November 18, 2013, permission was generally not required for copying of Crown copyright-protected works for personal, public non-commercial, or cost-recovery purposes.

However, as of November 18, 2013, Publishing and Depository Services no longer administers Crown copyright and licensing. When needed, Crown copyright clearance must be sought from the appropriate department or agency. Some departments, such as Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada, do not require permission to copy their publications "for personal or public non-commercial purposes, or for cost-recovery purposes . . . unless otherwise specified in the material."

Note that most data products published by Statistics Canada are covered by the Statistics Canada Open Licence Agreement. The DLI Licence which permits use of the data without sharing and redistribution restrictions. Exceptions to Statistics Canada's Open Licence Agreement include products covered by the Statistics Canada Data Liberation Initiative (DLI) Licence Agreement. In addition, the following DLI products are covered by separate licences which are appended to the DLI Licence Agreement:

Although there are no international copyright laws, copyright is recognized internationally thanks to international conventions and treaties that individual countries may choose to sign. In general, your copyright will be protected in other countries that have signed applicable international conventions or treaties. Note, however, that the specific protections your copyright work will receive for its use in another country depends on that country's copyright laws. If you’re concerned about someone’s use of your work outside of Canada, you will need to check the relevant jurisdiction’s copyright laws to confirm whether infringement of your copyright has taken place.

The copyright laws of the United States and Canada are in general not the same. For example, the provision known as "fair use" in United States copyright law is wider in scope than "fair dealing" in the Canadian Copyright Act. United States copyright law provides that "the fair use of a copyrighted work, including such use by reproduction . . . for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research, is not an infringement of copyright." In contrast, the "fair dealing" exception in the Canadian Copyright Act covers only purposes of research, private study, criticism, review, news reporting, education, parody, and satire, subject to certain conditions. The location of use determines the rules which apply. If you are from the United States or are collaborating with an American researcher, you should keep in mind that the rules that apply to the copyright material you intend to use or create in Canada may differ depending on where you want to use them.

Is your desired use permitted by an open access license, a Library license covering a subscribed electronic resource database, or one of the exceptions to copyright infringement? If the desired use is not covered by a license or statutory provision, you will need to contact the copyright owner for permission. The first step is to identify who the copyright owner is and whether there is an organization that represents the owner. There are copyright collectives that may be able to give you permission to use a work in the form of a license on behalf of the copyright owner. For example, if you want to use music that isn't covered by a license or the statutory exceptions to copyright infringement, you can seek permission through copyright collectives such as the Society of Composers, Authors and Music Publishers of Canada (SOCAN), Canadian Musical Reproduction Rights Agency (CMRRA), or Re:Sound Music Licensing Company (Re:Sound) that administer copyright in music.

But if the copyright owner is easily identifiable and locatable, it may be easier to contact him or her directly as copyright owners will sometimes give permission to academic users without requiring payment. You can usually identify the copyright owner somewhere on the work by looking for the copyright symbol ©, which should have the copyright owner’s name next to it. You’ll often find this at the beginning of a book, at the side of a photograph, or at the bottom of a webpage. Once you’ve located the owner, you can send an email or letter requesting permission for your use and explaining how and why you want to use the work. Written rather than verbal permission is preferable; an e-mail should suffice. It’s also a good idea to retain a record of who gave the permission and when, what was permitted, any conditions or limitations on your use, and how to contact the person who gave the permission.

Moral rights are additional rights specified in the Copyright Act held by creators of literary, dramatic, musical, and artistic works as well as performers of live or recorded performances. Moral rights protect the integrity of a work or performance and the reputation of its creator or performer. The right of integrity is the right not to have a work or performance modified or associated with goods or services in a way that is prejudicial to the creator’s or performer's reputation. The right of attribution is the right always to be identified as the creator of a work or performer of a performance, or to remain anonymous. These rights prohibit any prejudicial changes to a creator's original work or performer's performance, and ensure that the creator or performer receives appropriate recognition for his or her creation. Unauthorized acts or omissions that are contrary to creators' and performers' moral rights are infringements of those rights. Moral rights in a work or performance have the same duration as copyright, but may not be assigned to someone else.

Agreements covering who owns the copyright and who can use original works created by members of the University of Lethbridge Faculty Association (ULFA) are set out in Article 29 and Schedule E of the Faculty Handbook, and in Article 18 and Schedule D of the Sessional Handbook. In general, copyright in original works created by ULFA members in the course of employment are retained by the members, although exceptions may apply if a member is specifically instructed to create a work as part of his or her assigned duties. For more information about ownership and use of copyright works created by ULFA members, please contact the Chair of the ULFA Handbooks Committee. It is worth noting that although in most cases copyright initially belongs to the creator of a work (who may subsequently sell or license ownership of certain rights to others), there are exceptions to this general rule.

Amendments to the Copyright Act in 2012 included a new users' right applicable to non-commercial user-generated content (UGC). Section 29.21 of the Act provides that it is not an infringement of copyright if an individual uses a published or publicly available copyrighted work in the creation of a new copyrighted UGC work and then uses the UGC work or authorizes an intermediary to disseminate it as long as:
  • use of the UGC work or its dissemination by an intermediary is solely for non-commercial purposes,
  • the source of the pre-existing work is mentioned if reasonable to do so,
  • the individual reasonably believes the pre-existing work to be non-infringing,
  • use or dissemination of the new UGC work does not have a substantial adverse effect on the actual or potential exploitation of, or market for, the pre-existing workng, and
  • the new UGC work is not a substitute for the pre-existing work.
In this provision, "use" means to do anything that a copyright owner has the sole right to do under the Act, other than the right to authorize anything.
The information provided on this site is offered as general guidance only, not as legal counsel.

Copyright On-Campus

In general you may make copies of a copyright-protected article to distribute to students in your course if the article is published in an open access journal, or if it is covered by fair dealing, an institutional or Creative Commons license, or permission from the copyright owner to distribute the work for your intended purpose. A July 2012 Supreme Court of Canada decision provides guidance on how to assess whether fair dealing applies to teachers' copying of short excerpts for use by students as class handouts.

If fair dealing and open access licensing are not applicable, check whether the article you wish to distribute to your class is covered under a Library license agreement by searching for the journal title in the University Library's Copyright Permissions Look-up tool.

If you wish to provide students in your course with access to a collection of articles, your options may include providing persistent links to the articles in Moodle, placing articles on Print or Electronic Reserve, and obtaining permission from copyright owners to reproduce the articles in a coursepack or in a digital format for distribution in a secure electronic environment such as Moodle. To discuss options that may be applicable to the articles you have selected, please contact the University Copyright Advisor.

If by "share" you mean allowing others to make further copies of authorized reproductions that belong to you (e.g., copies made for your personal use from lawfully obtained originals), this may be an infringement of copyright. An exception may exist if your reproduction is an open access work for which the copyright owner permits public distribution, but you need to verify that this is the case. If you acquired a copy of a work through interlibrary loan, it was likely provided to you with the express limitation that redistribution is not permitted. Look for a notice prohibiting further redistribution and other use restrictions on the document itself, its cover page, or in the delivery message you received.

On the other hand, if you wish to share your legally obtained copies of works with other individuals by allowing them to read your copies, there are no restrictions on this type of sharing provided that no further reproductions are made from your copies.

When applicable, keep in mind that sharing links to articles and chapters is preferable to sharing copies because links are not copies of works. In addition, linking to works covered by institutional licenses allows the Library to track use and obtain data about the importance of those works to the University. The Library provides instructions on how to create persistent links for its licensed databases, and the Library's Information and Research Assistance Desk staff can provide assistance if needed.

If you wish to distribute classroom handouts containing a substantial part of one or more copyright-protected works, first ensure that appropriate permissions are in place if any are required. On July 12, 2012, the Supreme Court of Canada rendered an important affirmative decision that addressed "whether photocopies made by teachers to distribute to students as part of class instruction can qualify as fair dealing under the Copyright Act" (2012 SCC 37). The decision took into account the six fair dealing factors laid out in a previous Supreme Court of Canada decision (2004 SCC 13).

For U of L instructors this means that copying short excerpts for distribution as class handouts to students enrolled in your courses may qualify as fair dealing if the copying, on balance, is fair according to the six fair dealing factors. For assistance in assessing whether fair dealing applies to the copies you wish to make, please contact the University Copyright Advisor.

In general you may copy images of copyright works into slide presentations for instructional purposes without copyright owner permission, but limitations apply. The educational exceptions to copyright infringement in the Copyright Act allow you "to reproduce a work, or do any other necessary act, in order to display it." This exception applies only when there is no commercially available version of the work in a medium appropriate for the instructional purpose.

Note that this exception is limited to reproduction of a work to display it for instructional purposes on the University's premises (i.e., on-campus). It does not allow you to make and distribute copies of your slides containing the copied works. You could, however, create a different version of your presentation for distribution purposess that contains only links to, or brief textual descriptions of, the copyright works. If you wish to include a substantial part of a copyright work in a slide presentation delivered outside of the University's premises or make the presentation available online, since these uses fall outside of the educational exceptions you may do so only if your use is covered by an open access or institutional license, the fair dealing exceptions, or permission obtained from the copyright owner.

To find sources of images in the public domain or freely available under open access licensing permitting public uses such as reproduction and redistribution, use the Creative Commons Search tool or use the following specific search tools:
  • flickr Commons: "The key goal of The Commons is to share hidden treasures from the world's public photography archives." Materials in the Commons are contributed by institutions that have determined the photographs are subject to "no known copyright restrictions." (Rights Statement)
  • flickr Creative Commons: "Many Flickr users have chosen to offer their work under a Creative Commons license, and you can browse or search through content under each type of license."
  • Noun Project: A database of icons created by graphic artists around the world. Icons may be used without fees under a Creative Commons Attribution license, or without attribution if license fees are paid. (Terms of Use)
  • Open Clip Art Library: "Each artist at Openclipart releases all rights to the images they share at Openclipart. The reason is so that there is no friction in using and sharing images authors make available at this website so that each artist might also receive the same benefit in using other artists clipart totally for any possible reason." (License)
  • Pixabay: Photographs made publicly available under a Creative Commons Zero license. "This means you can copy, modify, distribute and print the photos. The pictures are free for personal and even for commercial use. All without asking for permission or setting a link to the source. So that attribution is not required. Basically the photos are completely free to be used for any legal purpose." (Terms of Service)
  • Wikimedia Commons: "[A]lmost all content hosted on Wikimedia Commons may be freely reused subject to certain restrictions (in many cases). You do not need to obtain a specific statement of permission from the licensor(s) of the content unless you wish to use the work under different terms than the license states." (Reusing content outside Wikimedia)
Web comics made available for public reuse by the copyright owner (sometimes with conditions) include the following:
  • Hyperbole and a Half: "Is your work copyrighted? Can I repost it? My stories and drawings are copyrighted, but as long as you attribute your use of my images/words correctly (with a link to the source of the material), it should be fine. But please don't completely repost anything." (FAQ)
  • Inkygirl.com: "[L]icensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License with . . . conditions" (Comic Use Policy)
  • Moose Lake Cartoons: "Over 980 FREE cartoons . . . They can be used at no cost by anyone, anywhere, for any purpose. . . All I ask is that you place a link to my page under or beside the cartoon you use."
  • Pepper & Carrot: "Commercial usage, translations, fan-arts, printing, movies, video-games, sharing, repost are encouraged. License: Creative Commons Attribution 4.0" (Philosophy)
  • xkcd: " This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 2.5 License. This means you're free to copy and share these comics (but not to sell them)." (More Details)
If the images you wish to use are freely available on the Internet, see the FAQ on using Web-accessible material for educational purposes.

It depends. Images that are widely available on the Internet can have a variety of copyright statuses. Here are some possible scenarios:
  • You want to copy a drawing by Emily Carr from someone’s blog. Because Emily Carr died in 1945 and the duration of copyright in Canada is a creator’s life plus 50 years, copyright protection in Canada has expired for all of Emily Carr’s works.  You are therefore free to use the drawing in your poster, as it’s in the public domain in Canada.
  • You find an icon you wish to use that is publicly available under a Creative Commons (CC) license.  Even under the most restrictive CC license    requiring Attribution but limiting uses to those that are NonCommercial and involve No Derivatives, you can use the icon in your poster as long as the event being advertised is not for profit (i.e., noncommercial) and you do not change (i.e., make a derivative of) the icon in any way.
  • You wish to use a photograph of contemporary subject matter that you found on someone’s webpage but it’s unclear who took the photograph and the copyright owner is not stated.  In such cases it’s best to assume the photograph is protected by copyright.  You may wish to assess whether your intended use is likely to qualify as fair dealing under the Copyright Act.  In your analysis of whether your desired use is likely to be fair, be sure to consider the potential applicability of the six fairness factors suggested by the Supreme Court of Canada.  For help in assessing whether your use is likely fair dealing, feel free to contact the University Copyright Advisor.  If fair dealing does not seem applicable, it’s advisable to choose a different photograph or image that does not require permission.
Note that there are many online sources of freely available and openly licensed images.  For some examples, see the list included in the FAQ on Can I include images in slide presentations?).

Yes, section 29.5 (b) of the educational exceptions to copyright infringement in the Copyright Act provides that an educational institution or a person acting under its authority may publicly perform a sound recording in class without infringing copyright as long as:
  • the sound recording is not an infringing copy
  • the performance takes place on the University's premises
  • the performance is for educational or training purposes and not for profit, and
  • the audience consists primarily of the University's students, instructors, or individuals responsible for the University's curriculum.
But if you wish to use music for purposes other than educational (e.g., providing background music at a conference or in an athletic facility), a license must be obtained from the copyright collective SOCAN. Please contact the University Copyright Advisor if you think your desired use of music may require a license.

Yes, section 29.5 (d) of the educational exceptions to copyright infringement in the Copyright Act provides that an educational institution or a person acting under its authority may publicly perform a film or video in class without infringing copyright as long as:
  • the work is not an infringing copy
  • the performance takes place on the University's premises
  • the performance is for educational or training purposes and not for profit, and
  • the audience consists primarily of the University's students, instructors, or individuals responsible for the University's curriculum.
In addition, section 29.6 of the Copyright Act provides that an educational institution may make a single copy of a television news or news commentary program, excluding documentaries, in order to screen the copy for its students for educational or training purposes. For more information see the Films and Videos page in the Permissions section of this website.

Not without permission. Section 29.5 (d) of the Copyright Act's educational exceptions to copyright infringement provides that the public performance of a film or video in class is not an infringement of copyright (as long as certain conditions are met). But film distribution companies and services such as Netflix and iTunes require subscribers and purchasers to accept an end-user license agreement that stipulates use of the paid-for content is limited to personal noncommercial use only.

For example, the Netflix Terms of Use state in section 4.2  that "The Netflix service and any content viewed through the service are for your personal and non-commercial use only. . . . You agree not to use the service for public performances."  Because a classroom screening is a public performance, you need permission to show a Netflix film in class. Similar conditions limiting use for personal, noncommercial purposes are stipulated in the Terms and Conditions applicable to iTunes users.  If you would like help in investigating whether permission can be obtained for a classroom screening of a film to which you have access via a personal account or personal-use license, please contact the University Copyright Advisor office.

Yes, section 29.5 (a) of the educational exceptions to copyright infringement in the Copyright Act provides that a live performance of a work is not an infringement of copyright as long as:
  • the performance is performed primarily by the University's students
  • the performance takes place on the University's premises
  • the performance is for educational or training purposes and not for profit, and
  • the audience consists primarily of the University's students, instructors, or individuals responsible for the University's curriculum.

Yes, section 29.4 of the educational exceptions to copyright infringement in the Copyright Act permits reproduction of a work, as well as any other act necessary to reproduce the work, in order to display the work on the University's premises for purposes of education or training. Also permitted is the reproduction, translation, or public performance of a work on the University's premises for examination or test purposes. These uses are permitted as long as the work is not commercially available in a medium appropriate for the purposes referred to in section 29.4.

"Open access" is defined by the Budapest Open Access Initiative as scholarly literature that is "free availability on the public internet, permitting any users to read, download, copy, distribute, print, search, or link to the full texts of these articles, crawl them for indexing, pass them as data to software, or use them for any other lawful purpose, without financial, legal, or technical barriers other than those inseparable from gaining access to the internet itself." When creators wish to provide open access to their works, they may choose to publish their works in open access journals or similar open access publishing systems where terms of use specify certain uses of the works that are available to the public without the need to ask for permission. Alternatively, creators may license their works using a Creative Commons license that specifies certain uses of their works that do not require the copyright owner's permission.
  • Creative Commons is a nonprofit organization that provides free copyright licenses and tools to facilitate the development of a universal digital commons. Licensing a work under a Creative Commons license generally means the work is freely available for use, subject to certain limited conditions, such as noncommercial use and acknowledgment of the creator. Visit Creative Commons Canada to access Creative Commons licenses available in Canada.
  • Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) is a multidisciplinary directory of peer-reviewed freely accessible scholarly journals. Although all DOAJ titles are integrated into the University Library's Journal Title index, you can browse the DOAJ by subject to find relevant open access journals in your discipline.
  • Directory of Open Access Books (DOAB) provides access to more than 3,300 academic, peer-reviewed books that are licensed under an open access licence such as Creative Commons. Each book described in the DOAB is free to read and share, and may be downloaded from the publisher's website.
  • International Music Score Library Project is a collection of more than 111,000 musical scores in the public domain.
  • MERLOT (Multimedia Educational Resources for Learning and Online Teaching) is a collection of peer-reviewed open access educational resources for higher education.
  • MIT OpenCourseWare is a Web-based publication of almost all MIT undergraduate and graduate course materials that support MIT courses. The free online course material is available for noncommercial educational use and reuse subject to attribution and share-alike requirements.
  • Open Educational Resources Commons is a database of open educational resources made freely available to the public with few limited restrictions on use. Of the 30,000 resources currently accessible through the database, over 18,000 are at a post-secondary level.
  • OpenLearn is an initiative of the United Kingdom-based Open University that provides distance delivery of higher education programs. OpenLearn provides free access to and use of learning materials under a noncommercial, share-alike Creative Commons license.
  • Open Textbook Library is a catalogue of openly licensed university-level textbooks compiled by the University of Minnesota's College of Education and Human Development. In addition to open licensing, included textbooks are similar to currently available traditional textbooks regarding completeness, are suitable for adoption outside textbook authors' institutions, and have a printed option.
  • Project Gutenberg is an online collection of over 40,000 literary works in the public domain in the United States. One sister project, Project Gutenberg Canada, provides online access to books in the Canadian public domain.
  • SHERPA/RoMEO is a database (RoMEO) of publishers' policies on Web-based self-archiving of journal articles and in open access repositories provided by SHERPA, a consortium of research-intensive organizations in the United Kingdom that focuses on facilitating open access to research. You can browse or search the database to determine which academic publishers have the strongest policies in support of open access to research published in the journal literature.
For other online works, a recommended best practice is to look for a Terms of Use or Legal Notices section in which use permissions or conditions may be specified. For more information see the Library guide on Open Access.

Generally, yes. The fair dealing exception provides certain limited rights for individuals to use copyright works for research, private study, criticism, review, news reporting, education, parody, or satire. Student use of a work is likely to be deemed fair as long as it qualifies, on balance, as fair dealing according to the fair dealing factors suggested by the Supreme Court of Canada, and students acknowledge the source and the name of the creator if the purpose is criticism, review, or news reporting.

Another potentially applicable infringement exception available to students is the s. 29.21 provision covering "Non-commercial user-generated content." For more information, see the FAQ on this user's right.

Yes, section 32 of the exceptions to copyright infringement for persons with perceptual disabilities in the Copyright Act permits a person with a perceptual disability, or an individual or non-profit organization acting for the benefit of such a person, to make a copy or sound recording of a literary, musical, artistic, or dramatic work in a format specially designed for use by a person with a perceptual disability as long as the format is not a large-print book. This exception to copyright infringement applies only when the work is not commercially available in an appropriate format, and does not apply to cinematographic works.

It depends. Since copyright is territorial, the applicable law is the copyright law of the country in which your conference is held. This FAQ outlines some issues to consider if your conference takes place in Canada. You may also download it as a PDF. It was originally created to accompany a slide presentation viewable at http://bit.ly/1oXrRC4. In general, the questions raise the following key issues: Protected? Reproduction? Permitted? Lawful Source?
  1. Is the material copyrighted? That is, has the term of copyright expired?
  2. If you are using an excerpt, is it a "substantial part" of the whole work?
  3. Do you need to reproduce the material, or can you use a link instead?
  4. Is your use covered by an applicable Creative Commons, open access or other license?
  5. Is your use covered by a users' right such as fair dealing under the Copyright Act?
  6. Is the source you are using non-infringing and was there no circumvention of technological protection measures in order to access the work?
  7. If you are using a reproduction or recording (print or digital, offline or online), do you have reasonable grounds to believe it was copied or made available to the public with the copyright owner's consent?
  8. If permission is needed and obtaining it is contingent on fee payment or some other condition(s), have you paid the fee and/or met the condition(s)?
The Supreme Court of Canada devised a two-step test to determine whether or not a particular dealing with (use of) a copyrighted work likely qualifies as fair dealing. See the "Assessing Fair Dealing" section of the fair dealing FAQ for more information.

Yes. Since the Copyright Act provision for showing films and videos in class does not apply to screenings outside of course-based classroom settings, your club or group must obtain non-theatrical public performance rights (PPR) before showing a film for extracurricular purposes such as entertainment or fundraising. Canadian PPR for many feature films and documentaries are managed by Audio Cine Films or Criterion Pictures.  If rights for your film are managed by either of these organizations, complete their online form to request a PPR quote.  For other films, search online for the film's production company or PPR manager to request screening permission to screen.

Note that the U of L Library subscribes to several streaming video services. While each is covered by its own terms of use, in general films may be streamed from these services for on-campus use by current U of L students and staff for non-commercial purposes.

The information provided on this site is offered as general guidance only, not as legal counsel.

Copyright Online

No. Posting a work on your own website means you are making it publicly available world-wide, and wide distribution tends to be an indication of dealing with a work that is not fair. In contrast, learning management systems such as Moodle provide a password-protected, secure Web environment accessible only by students in enrolled courses. But even if a work is a Library database covered by a license agreement, the usage rights in the agreement sometimes specifically prohibit downloading works into a learning management system and other electronic means of making the work accessible to students in a course.

Before you post, download, or distribute copyright works using any type of online system, please be aware that you need to determine whether your use is covered by fair dealing, or an open access or institutional license (e.g., licensed Library full-text databases). When your use is substantial and not covered under the Copyright Act or a license agreement, you need to seek permission from the copyright owner. A typically risk-free alternative is to provide students with a persistent link to the work from Moodle or a class website. Because providing a link to a work does not constitute making a copy of the work, in general there is no risk of copyright infringement.

The license agreements for many of the electronic resources provided by the Library allow instructors to download articles and other works into secure learning management systems such as Moodle. To determine the usage rights applicable to a particular article, look up the title of the journal in which it is published using the Library's Copyright Permissions Look-up tool.

While downloading an article into Moodle, when permitted, has some benefits, it is also worth noting that doing so may mean that your students do not have the most recent version of the article. Publishers sometimes make corrections or changes to articles after initial publication, and if such changes are made after you download a copy, students accessing the article in Moodle will not see the latest changes.

A persistent link is the best way to ensure access to the most recent version of an article. Linking to the article also allows the Library to track use and obtain data about the importance to the University of a particular journal or other electronic resource. The Library provides instructions on how to create persistent links for its licensed databases, and the Library's Information and Research Assistance Desk staff can provide assistance if needed.

It depends. In some cases, textbook publishers will allow you to include copies of figures into slide presentations or learning management systems, but usually only when the textbook is a required text for the course. You should check with the publisher first before posting the figures, and comply with whatever conditions they impose on your use of the work. If you don’t have permission from the publisher, you may still be able to include the figures if your instructional use is in compliance with the fair dealing exception to copyright infringement in the Copyright Act that covers education, criticism, or review of a work. Please note that using a substantial part of a work on a systematic, repeated basis is not likely to qualify as fair dealing. If you wish to use copies of the same figures in your course every year in a manner that likely goes beyond fair dealing, you should obtain permission from the copyright owner.

Scanning a copyright work and posting it in a Moodle course without copyright owner permission is not permitted unless your use is covered by fair dealing, copyright owner permission, or a Library license covering a subscribed database. The fact that the University's learning management system is password protected and supports educational purposes does not mean you may post anything you want in it.

For journal articles a first step is to check the Copyright Permissions Look-up tool to determine whether the article you wish to scan already exists in electronic format in one or more of the Library's journal databases. If it does, the next step is to examine the permissions summary for each database to see whether downloading articles into Moodle is permitted. If downloading articles is not permitted, consider whether providing a persistent link to an article in Moodle may suffice.

Some license agreements do not explicitly permit downloading of content into Moodle but acknowledge the availability of statutory fair dealing rights, which are format neutral. In July 2012 the Supreme Court of Canada rendered an affirmative decision on the question of "whether photocopies made by teachers to distribute to students as part of class instruction can qualify as fair dealing under the Copyright Act" (2012 SCC 37), and in doing so took into account the six fair dealing factors laid out in a previous Supreme Court of Canada decision (2004 SCC 13). See the Guidelines for Copying under Fair Dealing for a general overview of the kinds of copying that can qualify as fair dealing.

To avoid copyright infringement when licensed use and fair dealing do not apply, you should obtain the copyright owner’s consent, or contact the University Copyright Advisor for assistance in exploring whether other options are available.

It depends on how the copyright owner has made the material available. Section 30.04 (Work available through Internet) of the Copyright Act provides that if there is no reason to believe the material is available without the copyright owner's consent, and the material and the Internet site where it is available are not protected by a technological protection measure that restricts access and there is no clearly visible notice prohibiting the desired use on the site, an educational institution may undertake the following uses of a work available through the Internet without infringing copyright:
  1. reproduce it;
  2. communicate it to the public by telecommunication, if that public primarily consists of students of the educational institution or other persons acting under its authority;
  3. perform it in public, if that public primarily consists of students of the educational institution or other persons acting under its authority; or
  4. do any other act that is necessary for the purpose of the acts referred to in paragraphs (a) to (c).
Section 30.04 of the Copyright Act also states that the above uses of a work available throught the Internet do not apply unless the following are mentioned:
  1. the source; and
  2. if given in the source, the name of
    1. the author, in the case of a work,
    2. the performer, in the case of a performer's performance,
    3. the maker, in the case of a sound recording, and
    4. the broadcaster, in the case of a communication signal.
Your desired use of Web-accessible material may also be covered by a Creative Commons license or another exception to infringement under the Copyright Act, or permission from the copyright owner. You should check the site’s Terms of Use or Legal Notices section to determine if there are applicable use conditions imposed by the copyright owner.

Generally no, but you should check the website’s Terms of Use or Legal Notices section to see whether any linking prohibitions are specified. If there are none, you may link to the website but make sure that the webpage opens up in a different browser window or tab. If the webpage does not clearly identify the website and content owner, you should also indicate the author, copyright owner, and source of the link to avoid any suggestion that the content accessible via the link is your own material or that your website or document is affiliated with the other site.

It depends. For many of the Library' subscribed databases, the license agreeement permits non-systematic transmission of reasonable amounts of the licensed resource by University faculty, students, and staff to a colleague at another institution under a scholarly sharing usage right for purposes that may include research, educational, personal, or professional use. To check whether scholarly sharing of an article is permitted, search for the journal using the Library's Copyright Permissions Look-up tool.

You may do so, but only with the student’s permission. Students own the copyright in the works they create. The University has the right to make copies of student work when necessary to carry out its functions and to fulfil its obligations to its students, but this right does not extend to making copies of student work available online. Accordingly, you should ask students in advance whether they consent to have their work posted online and keep written records of the student permissions received.

Harvard Business Review (HBR) articles can be accessed online by current U of L students, faculty and staff via Business Source Complete. Note, however, that the "Notice of Use Restrictions" appended to HBR articles prohibits their use "in electronic reserves, electronic course packs, persistent linking from syllabi or by any other means of incorporating the content into course resources." One alternative for instructors is to provide citations to assigned HBR readings and direct students to retrieve the articles in Business Source Complete. In most cases students will be able to read and print or save the articles.

In August 2013 the publisher introduced an additional read-only access restriction in Business Source Complete on the top 500 most frequently used HBR articles. The full Business Source Complete record describing a top 500 HBR article now contains a note stating "The publisher offers limited access to this article. The full text cannot be printed or saved."

Because of the above publisher-imposed restrictions on using online HBR articles, instructors may wish to consider using the Library's print and microform holdings as a source for copying and distributing fair dealing amounts of HBR articles as course readings. The distribution format of HBR articles sourced from the Library's print or microform collections can be print (e.g., coursepacks) or secure online access (e.g., Moodle or Electronic Reserve). Amounts beyond fair dealing will require copyright owner permission.

For help in determining the copyright- and license-compliant mode of accessing HBR articles best suited to your course, please contact the University Copyright Advisor.

The University of Lethbridge Principles of Student Citizenship indicate students are expected to honour basic values of academic integrity, which include “honesty in learning, teaching, research and service.” Among other things, “honesty in learning” requires compliance with Canadian copyright law.

You may download a book only if doing so does not infringe copyright. So how do you know whether a book is copyrighted? If all authors of a book died more than 50 years ago, the book is no longer protected by copyright. This means you may download or copy it, share it with others and so on, since the book is in the public domain.

Even if copyrighted, it may be ok to download a book if the copyright owner authorized making it available online as an open access (OA) work. OA works are often available under Creative Commons licensing, which permits public uses under specific conditions that, at minimum, require author attribution.

Although the U of L Library generally does not acquire textbooks, on occasion a book you need for a course may be available in the Library as an e-book. The terms governing permitted uses of Library e-books vary by publisher, but some may allow you to “sign out” (i.e., have continuous access to) an e-book for a designated period of time.

Be wary of sources claiming to offer free downloads of commercially published college or university textbooks. If textbooks you find through such sources are not OA works (for examples of OA textbooks, see BCcampus Open Education and OpenStax), most likely the copyright owner did not authorize making them available online.

Do you infringe if you download a book that someone else uploaded without the copyright owner's permission? Yes. The owner has three main rights in a work:  produce or reproduce it, perform it in public, and publish it for the first time. Case law tells us that downloading a work engages the owner’s sole right of reproduction. So downloading without owner permission or an applicable user's right very likely infringes copyright.

The information provided on this site is offered as general guidance only, not as legal counsel.

Copyright in the Library

If you wish to place physical copies of materials in the Library's Reserve Collection, original works such as published books, printed journal issues, and films or recordings in their original cases are generally preferred. Any reproductions of works you wish to place in the Reserve Collection must be published as an open access work or it must be covered by an applicable Library electronic resource license, fair dealing, or permission from the copyright owner. For information on how to place materials in the Reserve Collection please see the guidelines for Print Reserve.

If you wish to place electronic copies on reserve, you can have them added to the Library's E-Reserve system. Students will access E-Reserve materials using the same Course Reserves system used to access print reserves. Items that may be placed on E-Reserve include links to Web-accessible content, and digital content such as PDFs, images, audio clips, and video clips. Except for links (which are not copies of works), copyright permissions coverage requirements for E-Reserve materials are the same as those for Reserve Collection materials, above. For information on how to place materials on E-Reserve please see the guidelines for Electronic Reserve.

The University Library contracts with a variety of vendors and publishers to provide users with thousands of electronic resources (databases, e-journals, e-books, etc.) costing hundreds of thousands of dollars per year. In addition to paying for these resources, the Library negotiates license agreements that stipulate how and by whom a given resource may be used. You have access to these information resources if you are a current student, faculty, or staff member, and in most cases you will have on- as well as off-campus access.

To determine the usage rights applicable to a particular article retrieved from a Library database, look up the title of the journal in which it is published using the Library's Copyright Permissions Look-up tool. Access to licensed resources is made available through public workstations within the Library. If license terms are violated by anyone, licensors may temporarily suspend access for the entire university community. In cases where a resolution cannot be reached, the vendor may have the right to permanently revoke a license and access to the resource.

In general the statutory provisions and conditions applicable to scanning a copyright-protected work are the same as those that apply to copying the work using other reproduction methods. It may therefore be the case that scanning a work is permissible under fair dealing. In addition, the work you wish to scan may be covered by a Creative Commons license.

If your desired use of a work falls outside of the Copyright Act infringement exceptions, is not covered by an applicable license, and is not in the public domain, you will need to obtain the copyright owner’s permission. For assistance in seeking required copyright permissions, please contact the University Copyright Advisor.
The information provided on this site is offered as general guidance only, not as legal counsel.

Copyright and Coursepacks

Permissions clearance is required for copyrighted material included in a coursepack. Some material may be covered by fair dealing or existing Library licenses covering institution-wide access to electronic resources that allow you to provide students with direct links to the full-text of the works. In some cases our institutional licenses also allow you to include a printed copy in a coursepack or upload one or two articles or chapters to a secure learning management system such as Moodle. The University Copyright Advisor office and the Bookstore work together to help you determine the best way of providing students in your courses with affordable, copyright-cleared access to course-related reading materials in printed, digital or online modes.

Some copyrighted materials such as Ivey and Harvard business cases may be used as course readings only when a per-copy licensing fee is paid. All licenses required for reproducing or distributing copyrighted course readings (as class handouts, in coursepacks or as readings made available via E-Reserve or Moodle) will be ordered by the University Copyright Advisor office. If you would like to use Ivey or Harvard business cases in your course, please submit a coursepack request to the Bookstore. The Bookstore will then forward your list of coursepack materials to the University Copyright Advisor office for permissions clearance. See the Guidelines for Producing Custom Coursepacks for information on how to submit a coursepack request.

If you wish to know the copyright permission status of course readings before submitting a coursepack request to the Bookstore, please send the University Copyright Advisor a list detailing your selected readings as far in advance of the course start date as possible.

Please provide the following (where relevant) for each item in your course reading list:
  • title of source (e.g., title of book or journal)
  • author/editor of source
  • publisher
  • title of excerpt (e.g., title of chapter or article)
  • author of excerpt
  • ISBN/ISSN number
  • journal volume and issue number
  • page range of excerpt
  • total pages (books only)
  • URL/web address (Internet sources)
The works in your submitted reading lists will be assessed for copyright clearance requirements, which applies to materials from the Internet, government publications, business cases, and unpublished works, not just books and journals.

For information about ordering a coursepack, please see the Bookstore.

Not necessarily. Some copyright holders grant users permission to put information on password-secured websites like Moodle, but decline to permit distribution of copies of the same material in print format. If you wish to use a work in electronic and print format, you need to verify that your uses in both formats are covered by fair dealing, an open access or institutional license agreement, or permission from the copyright holder.

If all works on your course reading list can be accessed via persistent links, in general, copyright permissions are not required because links do not constitute copies of the works they reference. You may provide those links to students in whatever manner you choose. But if you prefer to provide students with digital or printed copies of the works in your course reading list, each reading needs to be assessed as to whether or not copyright permissions are required.

Please see the Copyright Permissions Flow Chart for an overview of the steps involved in assessing whether permission is required for reproducing or distributing course readings and other works to students. For assistance in assessing the copyright permissions status of works in your coursepack, please contact the University Copyright Advisor.
The information provided on this site is offered as general guidance only, not as legal counsel.

Copyright and Multimedia

Copyright applies to all original works including multimedia works. For guidance on how to assess whether you need copyright permissions for your multimedia project if you plan to use substantial parts of works created by others, please see A Practical Guide on Copyright Clearance for Multimedia Producers by Canadian Heritage.

Some of the fair dealing exceptions in the Canadian Copyright Act may be applicable to your multimedia creation. For guidance on fair dealing and how it may apply to documentary multimedia works, please see Copyright and Fair Dealing: Guidelines for Documentary Filmmakers by the Documentary Organization of Canada.
The information provided on this site is offered as general guidance only, not as legal counsel.
Loading ...

Contact Us

University Copyright Advisor office
E-mail: copyright@uleth.ca
Phone: 403-332-4472

Rumi Graham
University Copyright Advisor
L1154, University Library

Betsy Greenlees
Copyright & Technical Services Assistant
L1156, University Library

Copyright Blog

Loading