The areas listed below provide you with general information about the Canadian Copyright Act and how it affects your work within the University. In addition to this FAQ, and for more detailed information on specific topics, please see the links below and the resources listed in question 5.3 below.
'Frequently Asked Questions' text adapted from the Waterloo Copyright FAQ by University of Waterloo, (licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 2.5 Canada License).
In order to determine whether what you want to do is permissible, you need to first check that you comply with any agreements or licenses covering the work in question and/or the Copyright Act. You should ask yourself:
Fair dealing is a user’s right in copyright law permitting use, or "dealing" with, a copyright-protected work without permission or payment of copyright royalties. The fair dealing exception in the Copyright Act allows you to use other people’s copyright material for the purpose of research, private study, criticism, review, news reporting, education, satire or parody provided that what you do with the work is "fair". Whether something is "fair" will depend on the circumstances. Courts will normally consider factors such as:
It is not necessary that your use meet every one of these factors in order to be fair and no one factor is determinative by itself. In assessing whether your use is fair, a court would look at the factors as a whole to determine if, on balance, your use is fair.
If, having taken into account these considerations, the use can be characterized as "fair" and it was for the purpose of research, private study, criticism, review, news reporting, education, satire or parody then it will fall within the fair dealing exception and will not require permission from the copyright owner. In addition, if your purpose is criticism, review, or news summary you must also mention the source and author of the work for it to be fair dealing. Note: for further clarity and additional information about limits on the amount and nature of copying permitted under fair dealing in certain contexts, please see the Fair dealing policy for universities prepared by Universities Canada (UC).
Please note as well; it’s important to distinguish "fair dealing" from "fair use". The fair use exception in U.S. copyright law is NOT the equivalent of fair dealing in Canadian law. The wording of the two exceptions is different. It is important to make sure that you consider the Canadian law and aren’t relying on U.S. information.
The term "public domain" refers to works in which copyright has expired.
For example, although the copyright in Shakespeare's plays expired long ago, many of the published editions of his plays contain added original materials (such as footnotes, prefaces etc.) which are copyright protected because the authors have used skill and judgment in creating the new material. This creates a new copyright in the added original material, but not in the underlying text of the original work in which the copyright had expired.
And don't assume that everything you find on the internet is in the public domain just because it is publicly available. Most of the material you find online is protected by copyright, however, you may nonetheless be able to use it for educational purposes because many uses will be covered by fair dealing or the exception for educational use of material publicly available through the Internet.Note: Some copyright owners have made clear declarations that certain uses of their copyright works may be made without permission or payment. The Reproduction of Federal Law Order, for example, permits anyone, without charge or request for permission, to reproduce Canadian laws and decisions of federally-constituted courts and administrative tribunals in Canada.
You ask! If your use isn’t permitted by a license, or one of the exceptions in the Copyright Act, you will need to ask for permission. The permission must come from the copyright owner (not always the creator) so the first step is to identify who the copyright owner is and whether there is an organization that represents the owner. There are a number of copyright collectives who can give you permission (in the form of a license) on behalf of the copyright owner to use their work. So, for example, if you want to use music and your use doesn’t fall within any of the Copyright Act’s exceptions, you may be able to obtain permission from copyright collectives such as the Society of Composers, Authors and Music Publishers of Canada (SOCAN), Canadian Musical Reproduction Rights Agency (CMRRA) or Re:Sound that administer copyright in music.
But if the copyright owner is easily identifiable and locatable, it can sometimes be easier to contact them directly as many copyright owners will give permission to academic users without requiring payment. Usually you’ll be able to identify the 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, simply email or write to him/her, explaining how and why you want to use the work and requesting permission. The permission should be in writing. An email will suffice. It is not advisable to rely on verbal permission. You should also keep a file record of who gave the permission, what was permitted, the date, and how to contact the person who gave the permission.
Linking also cuts down on the number of additional licenses that the university may need to acquire to provide content to students (in a course pack for example). This is a very accessible, cost effective, and environmentally friendly method of providing content to your class.
Yes, you can do both if you adhere to the amount that may be copied under fair dealing or if the license for the work permits it. Please see the Fair Dealing Advisory for the copyright limits.
Note however that in some instances a copyright-protected work is made available under a digital license that prohibits certain uses such as posting an electronic article to Brightspace. Any such restrictions will take precedence over fair dealing. Consult a copyright contact for information about such restrictions. In these instances please consider linking through the licensed database to the article you would like to provide. Linking is permissible under most of the subscriptions SMU has signed into it. For more information on linking click HERE
In some instances the journal article is made available under a license that prohibits posting to Brightspace Consult a copyright contact for information about such restrictions.
The licenses for some e-journals provided by the Library allow instructors to upload articles into secure course management systems such as Brightspace. While there may be good reason to upload articles to Brightspace, it is important to consider that doing so may mean that your students do not have the most recent version of the article. It is not unusual for publishers to make corrections or changes, such as adding supplementary material, to articles after initial publication. If such changes are made after a copy has been uploaded they will not be reflected in that copy. A direct 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 of a particular journal to the campus.
Even in cases where uploading and linking to articles in Brightspace is permitted by the licenses, it is important to remember that licenses generally do not permit you to upload to a website, or create links on a website, that is not part of the University’s secure network, and that is open to the world at large.
You may play videos in class in the following circumstances:
If you want to show a video in class and need assistance in obtaining video programming, please contact us for more information.
Yes. There's a wealth of material out there which is either in the public domain or available under what is known as Creative Commons licensing, which generally means the work is available for free, subject to certain limited conditions, such as non-commercial use only and acknowledgment of the author.
For Creative Commons materials, visit the Creative Commons website for more information or check out their content directories which list audio, video, image and text materials available under Creative Commons licensing. For public domain material, simply search online for "public domain" and the type of material you’re interested in. Some useful sites include: Project Gutenberg (the largest collection of copyright-free books online) and Wikipedia, which has an entire page dedicated to public domain resources.
Materials on the Internet are treated the same under copyright law as any other copyright materials, so if you want to use them, they either have to fall within one of the Copyright Act's exceptions (such as fair dealing or the educational use of the Internet exception), or be open access or in the public domain. If what you want to use isn't from an open access or public domain source and does not fall into one of the Act's exceptions you will have to obtain permission from the copyright owner. Note: the person who posted the material may not be the copyright owner and may not have the right to grant you permission to use the material. If this is the case, you should not use the material unless you can identify and obtain the copyright owner's permission.
As long as you adhere to the amounts that may be copied under fair dealing you may post charts and diagrams from textbooks, or other works, in Brightspace. If for example, you wish to post multiple images from a book, you may do so as long as those images amount to no more than 10% of the book (see the Fair Dealing Advisory).
Please note that just because you acknowledge the author and source of a work doesn’t mean you won’t be liable for copyright infringement. Acknowledging the source is no defense if the way in which you’ve used the work is not permitted under the Copyright Act. So make sure you either fall within an exception or have the copyright owner’s permission.
Regardless of whether you obtain (or do not need) permission to link to a website, if you have reason to believe that the website contains content posted without the permission of the copyright owner, you should avoid linking to it.
3. Copyright in the Library (Reserves, Document Delivery and Electronic Resources)
Saint Mary's University Library has contracts with a variety of vendors and publishers that provide the campus with thousands of electronic resources (databases, e-journals, e-books, etc.).
In addition to paying for these resources, the Library negotiates license agreements that stipulate how and by whom a given resource may be used. Users must be currently registered faculty, students, or staff. Only these individuals will be registered with the proxy server for off-campus access. Access for the general public is made available through terminals within the Library. Please note: some titles/databases may not permit 'walk in users' to access their content.
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.
You can help prevent such problems by adhering to good practices and avoiding improper use. Here are some rules of thumb.
Always acknowledge your source on any published or unpublished document when you use data found in electronic resources.
Grey areas: Some license agreements make express allowances for electronic reserves, course packs, multiple copies for classroom use and interlibrary lending. Other licenses may prohibit one or more of these activities. If you have questions about a particular resource, please contact the library's Copyright Office.
You can check various license information for specific ejournals by searching in the library catalogue. For further information please check here.
4. Copyright and Course Packs
Printed course pack can be made on campus in the Print Center.
Note: Brightspace can often be a more convenient, cost effective and environmentally friendly method of providing content to your students. It also allows for the addition of multimedia content. If you are interested in moving your readings from printed course pack into Brightspace and require some guidance please contact the Copyright Office.
General contact: email@example.com
Suzanne van den Hoogen
Metadata and Copyright Librarian
If you would like to schedule a session for your department please contact us.
Please contact the Copyright Office for assistance.
You can visit the 'News' section of this guide (link)
Please note: This guide does not provide legal advice. It is intended to give guidance about acceptable use of copyright protected materials.