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Copyright Guide for Faculty and Staff


Copyright constitutes one form of intellectual property, which applies to original literary, dramatic, musical and artistic works. Copyright infringement is the unauthorized copying or use of a work.

Canadian copyright law specifies that a creator, author, or “copyright owner” of a work has the right to:

  • Benefit financially from a work
  • Produce, reproduce, adapt, perform, translate, publish, display, rent, or distribute a work
  • License rights (grant permission for others to use)
  • Assign rights (permanently give rights to someone else)

As soon as a work is created, it is automatically protected under Canadian copyright law as long as it meets the criteria for eligibility. As a creator, you have certain rights under the Copyright Act, including how and by whom the material may be used. The Act endeavors to protect the rights of copyright owners, while balancing the rights of users in an effort to foster education, creativity and innovation.

The following websites provide information for creators:

  • SHERPA/RoMEO provides a collection of publisher copyright policies and self-archiving
  • Canadian Intellectual Property Office (CIPO) is responsible for the administration and processing of intellectual property in Canada, including copyright, patents, trademarks, industrial designs, and integrated circuit topography
  • Creative Commons provides information for creators to consider to facilitate the dissemination of their works while preserving ownership rights
  • Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC) is an American organization with an international alliance of academic and research libraries working to correct imbalances in the scholarly publishing system (NOTE: not all of the information will be applicable in Canada)

Protecting Your Own Work

In Canada, the law protects a work as soon as it has been created and there is no requirement to mark it as copyrighted or to formally register the work. However, by placing a statement of copyright on your work, it serves as a reminder to others that the work is indeed protected by copyright.  Registering your work may provide additional benefits. For more information about registering your copyright, contact the Canadian Intellectual Property Office.

You can also monitor the Internet for instances of infringement. You can perform a search for the title or excerpts of your work. If you find that it has been used without your permission, you can contact the person or organization to discuss the removal or licensing of your work.

Licensing or Assigning Rights

The owner of a copyright may grant rights to others to produce or reproduce a creative work through a legal agreement. You may assign part, or all, of the rights to another entity, which may be for the whole term of the copyright or for a certain part of it.

Alternatively you may license the rights to give someone else authorization to use the work for certain purposes and under certain conditions. As the creator, you would still retain the ownership and moral rights over the work. To be valid, an assignment or license must be in writing and signed by the copyright owner.

You may also choose alternative licensing options, such as Creative Commons. Creative Commons is a non-profit organization committed to providing licensing alternatives which fit between full copyright ownership and the public domain. It allows you to easily create your own license (for free!) and allows you to reserve some rights, based on the type of license you choose.

Intellectual Property

Intellectual property (IP) is the general name for the broader legal category of a product of invention, creativity, knowledge or expression, including:

  • Patents: protect new inventions or any new and useful improvement of an existing invention
  • Trademarks: words or design used to identify a person or organization, which distinguishes them from others in the marketplace
  • Copyright: protection for original creations, such as artistic, dramatic, literary, or musical works
  • Industrial Designs: any combination of the aesthetic features of shape, configuration, pattern or ornament that is applied to a finished product
  • Integrated Circuit Topographies (ICT): any three-dimensional configuration of electronic circuits contained within products or layout designs
  • Plant breeders’ rights: apply to certain new plant varieties (managed by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency)

Further Assistance

If you would like further assistance please contact the Saint Mary's University Copyright Office.

Disclaimer & Attribution

Note: The information obtained from or through this site does not constitute legal advice, but is provided as guidelines for using works for educational purposes.


All information on the page 'Copyright & Your Work' is from the University of Saskatchewan site and is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.5 Canada License unless otherwise noted.

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