Skip to main content

Copyright: FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions

The links below provide general information about copyright and how it affects work within the University.

Text derived from Waterloo Copyright FAQ.

Copyright Basics

What are the copyright rules and laws that apply to UOIT?

What does copyright cover?

How do you know if something is protected by copyright?

What rights does a copyright owner have?

What is fair dealing and how does it relate to copyright?

Does fair dealing cover teaching?

How long does copyright last?

What is meant by 'the public domain'? How do you know if something is public domain?

What are moral rights and what do they have to do with copyright?


What are the copyright rules and laws that apply to UOIT?

Use of copyrighted materials at UOIT is covered by both the Canadian Copyright Act and various agreements and licenses the University has with copyright owners and representative organizations.

The Copyright Act sets out what can and can’t be done with copyrighted materials. In addition to this, the University has special agreements with copyright owners, such as subscriptions to electronic journals, which give provide additional rights to certain content.

If material is not covered by any agreement or license or an exception under the Act, getting permission from the copyright owner is necessary. To determine whether permission is needed, check if the use complies with any agreements or licenses covering the work in question and/or the Copyright Act. Ask the following questions:

  1. Is the work in question covered by an agreement or licenses that the University library has with publishers or a public license such as a Creative Commons license? If so, is what I want to do permissible under those agreements or licenses?
  2. If not, is the use covered by the Copyright Act, either under the educational exceptions or under the fair dealing exception?

If the use is not covered by any agreement or license or an exception under the Act, permission is required from the copyright owner.

What does copyright cover?

Copyright protects literary, artistic, dramatic and musical works, as well as sound recordings, performances and communication signals. This includes books, articles, posters, manuals and graphs, to CDs, DVDs, software, databases and websites.

How do you know if something is protected by copyright?

Copyright protection arises automatically when any one of the above types of works is created and generally continues for 50 years after the author's death, though this can depend on the type of work and where it is to be used. To use a particular work in Canada, the safest approach is to assume that the work is protected by copyright, unless there is a clear indication to the contrary or the author has been dead for at least 50 years.

What rights does a copyright owner have?

Copyright gives the copyright owner a number of legal rights, such as the right to copy and translate a work. These rights are qualified by certain exceptions which balance the copyright owner's interests with the public interest in allowing use of works for purposes such as education and research.

What is fair dealing and how does it relate to copyright?

Fair dealing is an exception in the Copyright Act which allows the use other people's copyright material for the purpose of research, private study, criticism or review, provided that what is done with the work is 'fair'. Whether something is 'fair' will depend on the circumstances. Courts will normally consider factors such as:

  • the purpose of the dealing (Is it commercial or research/educational?)
  • the amount of the dealing (How much was copied?)
  • the character of the dealing (What was done with the work? Was it an isolated use or an ongoing repetitive use? How widely was it distributed?)
  • alternatives to the dealing (Was the work necessary for the end result? Could the purpose have been achieved without using the work?)
  • the nature of the work (Is there a public interest in its dissemination? Was it previously unpublished?)
  • the effect of the dealing on the original work (Does the use compete with the market of the original work?)

It is not necessary that the use meets every one of these factors in order to be fair and no one factor is determinative by itself. In assessing whether use is fair, a court would look at the factors as a whole to determine if, on balance, the use is fair. For more guidance on how to apply the fair dealing factors to particular circumstances, please review the University of Waterloo's Fair Dealing chart.

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 or review, then it will fall within the fair dealing exception and will not require permission from the copyright owner. In addition, if the purpose is criticism or review, the source and author of the work must be mentioned 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 UOIT's Fair Dealing Guidelines

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. The U.S. fair use exception specifically mentions teaching and parody. The Canadian fair dealing exception mentions research, private study, criticism, review and news reporting. It is therefore important to make sure that  the Canadian law is considered and not just U.S. information.

Does fair dealing cover teaching?

Yes. While fair dealing doesn’t specifically mention teaching it does mention education. The Supreme Court of Canada has also ruled that a teacher may make copies of short excerpts of copyright-protected works and distribute them to students as part of classroom instruction without prior request from the student under the fair dealing exception. See Copyright Exceptions for details about what may be as copied as fair dealing by instructors.

How long does copyright last?

How long copyright lasts depends on the country. In Canada, copyright generally lasts for the life of the author, plus 50 years. By contrast, in the U.S. and Europe, copyright generally lasts for the life of the author plus 70 years, though it can differ depending on factors such as the type of work, the manner of publication and the date of creation. Generally, use of a work in Canada is governed by the Canadian rules for the duration of copyright protection.

What is meant by 'the public domain'? How do you know if something is public domain?

The term 'public domain' refers to works for which copyright has expired or where the copyright owner has made a clear declaration that they will not assert copyright over the work.

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 for which the copyright had expired.

Don’t assume that any item found on the internet is in the public domain just because it is publicly available. Most of the material found online is protected by copyright, however, it may be used for educational purposes because many uses will be covered by fair dealing. When using online materials, make sure the use falls within fair dealing or is covered under the permissions given in the website’s ‘Terms of Use,’ or ‘Legal Notices’ section.

What are moral rights and what do they have to do with copyright?

Moral rights are additional rights held by authors of literary, dramatic, musical and artistic works. They consist of rights that protect the integrity of a work and the reputation of its author. The right of attribution is the right to always be identified as the author of a work or to remain anonymous. The right of integrity is the right not to have a work modified or associated with goods or services in a way which is prejudicial to the author’s reputation. These rights are important for authors to ensure they get appropriate recognition for their work and for prohibiting any prejudicial changes to their works.

 

Back to Top

Copyright and Course Packs

Permission is required for copyrighted material that is printed in a course pack. Any materials to be include in course packs are assessed by the UOIT Bookstore staff for copyright clearance requirements. Consult with the Bookstore about requirements for creating course packs.

Contact

Questions about Copyright? Please contact copyright@uoit.ca

Creative Commons Licence Unless otherwise indicated, content on UOIT's copyright website is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International Licence.