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Copyright Guide for Students

General Statement

It is the student’s responsibility to ensure copyright has been cleared (if necessary) for all material submitted to the university and Library and Archives Canada.

The Copyright Office cannot provide legal advice, and the following information should not be considered as such. It is offered as a starting point to help you understand your rights and responsibilities.

FAQ – Theses, Honors and Major Research Projects

1. How does copyright affect my thesis?

 “Canadian Copyright Law protects a wide variety of works. Reproducing, publishing, adapting, translating, or distributing a substantial part of someone else's copyright protected work may be an infringement unless your use is covered by an exception in the Canadian Copyright Act or you have permission from the copyright holder. When using material under copyright in your thesis you may need to provide written letters of permission from the copyright holder. It depends on what type and how much of the material you use."

2. What is ‘fair dealing’? How does it apply to my thesis?

 “Fair dealing is a user exception that permits use of a copyright-protected work without permission from the copyright owner or the payment of copyright royalties. To decide if something is fair dealing, you will need to conduct a fair dealing analysis. You can find information on that process here."

3. What is considered an ‘insubstantial amount’?

“Copyright law does not state a fixed percentage as ‘insubstantial’, each situation is different".

4. What if fair dealing doesn’t apply to my situation?

“If fair dealing does not apply to your situation then you will need to seek a written letter of permission from the copyright holder. This letter should be dated and addressed to you. You must submit it with your thesis”.

5. Are materials available on the web ok to use freely?

“All materials copied from web sites are considered to be copyrighted unless a statement on the site explicitly says otherwise. If you use something that is stated as ‘public domain’ or ‘open’ please include proof of this”.


*Please note: students must fully cite all of their references.

**If you are seeking materials with more 'open' copyright policies please see the Creative Commons & Open Educational Resources section of this guide.

Archives and Additional Information

Additional copyright guidelines for Theses & MRP submission, including examples of copyright permission forms, can be found on the Archives web page.

A Note on Digital Locks

Some copyright holders use digital locks to restrict access to copyright-protected works and/or to limit the use that can be made of such works. The Copyright Act now prohibits the circumvention of digital locks to obtain access to copyright-protected works. The Fair Dealing Policy does not permit the circumvention of digital locks to obtain access to copyright-protected works. In order to circumvent a digital lock it is necessary to obtain the permission of the copyright holder.

Source: Application of the Fair Dealing Policy for Universities (AUCC)


Please note: This guide does not provide legal advice. It is intented to give guidance about acceptable use of copyright protected materials.