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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.

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.

Faculty Publications and Institutional Repository

The Saint Mary’s Institutional Repository is a centralized location where we display, preserve, and share the scholarly output of our university community.

Adding your work to the institutional repository increases the visibility of your work, promotes more open and equal access to research, and can help you meet the Tri-Agency Open Access Policy on Publication requirements.

Certain copyright requirements may need to be met before your work can be posted, and most publishers and journals have policies regarding the use of their content in institutional repositories. Our staff will investigate licensing terms and help you determine which version of your work can be shared. If you are aware of any licensing and copyright restrictions on your work, please let us know when submitting the documents.

If you are interested in having your work showcased in the repository, or have questions about the copyright obligations and self archiving policy of your work, please contact

Conferences and Public Lectures

If you are presenting at a conference that is:

  • not for profit;
  • for educational purposes; and
  • held on Saint Mary's University (SMU) premises for an audience primarily of students and faculty members;

then you can display or distribute materials without permission if your use falls under our Fair Dealing Guidelines or another educational exception in the Canadian Copyright Act. If the criteria above are not met, then using copyright-protected materials in your presentation will generally not be covered by educational exceptions in the Copyright Act.

A fair dealing analysis can be done to assess whether certain copyright and use of material would be permissible. If your intended use of the materials does not fall under an exception or existing license, you can seek permission from the copyright holder.

Please note that presentations given outside of Canada are subject to the laws of the country you present in. Copyright exceptions and the length of copyright protection can vary. Materials that are in the public domain in Canada may not be in the public domain in other locations.

This content is adapted from the University of Saskatchewan site and is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.5 Canada License unless otherwise noted. Creative Commons License

Disclaimer & Attribution

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

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.