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Frequently Asked Questions

Text adapted from the Waterloo Copyright FAQ by University of Waterloo, licenced under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 2.5 Canada Licence.

The links 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.

  1. Copyright Basics
    General copyright information including what it covers, how long it lasts, how you get permission to use someone’s copyright material and how it works internationally.
  2. Copyright in the Campus Classroom
    How you and your students can use other people’s copyright material in your presentations and in class.
  3. Copyright in the Library (Reserves, Document Delivery and Electronic Resources)
    What you should know about copyright if you want to photocopy something, place materials on E-Reserves and paper Reserves or get an article through Document Delivery.
  4. Copyright and Course Packs
    How copyright works when you're putting together printed courseware.
  5. Copyright Contacts and Resources
    Who’s available to help you with copyright issues at Memorial and other useful resources. 

 


1. Copyright Basics

1.1 What are the laws and rules relating to copyright at Memorial?

1.2 What does copyright cover?

1.3 How do I know if something is protected by copyright?

1.4 What rights does a copyright owner have?

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

1.6 How long does copyright last?

1.7 What is meant by "the public domain"? How do I know if something is public domain?

1.8 How does copyright work internationally?

1.9 I'm from the United States. How is copyright different here?

1.10 How do I get permission to use someone else's work?

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

1.12 Are there special rules for scanning?
 

2. Copyright in the Campus Classroom

2.1 Can I make copies of copyright-protected works to hand out to students in class?

2.2 Can I include copies of another person's images and materials in my presentations?

2.3 Can I post copies of copyright-protected works to a secure learning management system (such as Desire2Learn or Sharepoint)? Can I email copies to students enrolled in my course(s)?

2.4 Is there any difference between posting something on my own website versus posting something on a secure learning management system (such as Desire2Learn or Sharepoint)?

2.5 I've come across an article in a print journal that I want to give out to my students. Can I photocopy it and hand it out to them?

2.6 May I post a PDF of a journal article I obtained through the Library's ejournals, or an ebook chapter, to Memorial's secure learning management system (i.e. Desire2Learn or Sharepoint) for my students to read?

2.7 Can I play music in class?

2.8 Can I play videos in class?

2.9 Can students include copyright materials in their assignments and presentations?

2.10 Are there any databases of copyright materials that I can use for free without worrying about copyright?

2.11 Is it okay to use images or other material from the Internet for educational purposes?

2.12 I gave a PowerPoint presentation in class that includes figures, charts, diagrams and/or other images from a textbook. Can I post it on a secure learning management system (such as Desire2Learn or Sharepoint)? I'll be sure to cite where the figures came from.

2.13 Do I need to ask permission to link to a website?

3. Copyright in the Library (Reserves, Document Delivery and Electronic Resources

3.1 Can E-Reserves link to full-text resources that the Library has already paid for, such as ejournals and ebooks?

3.2 Can I link to the electronic journal article myself on a secure learning management system (such as Desire2Learn or Sharepoint)?

3.3 Can I link to ebooks myself on a secure learning management system (such as Desire2Learn or Sharepoint)?

3.4 Will the Library scan articles or chapters and put them on E-Reserves for my class?

3.5 What kind of print materials can the Library accept for inclusion as a paper reserve?

3.6 Where can I find more information about E-Reserves?

3.7 What are licences for electronic resources?

4. Copyright and Course Packs

4.1 Can I produce a printed course pack for sale to my students in the bookstore?

5. Copyright Contacts and Resources

5.1 Who do I talk to at Memorial if I have a copyright question?

5.2 Is there anyone available to help me obtain copyright permission?

5.3 How can I get more information about copyright?

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1. Copyright Basics

1.1 What are the laws and rules relating to copyright at Memorial?

Use of copyright materials at Memorial is covered by the Canadian Copyright Act and various agreements and licences entered into by the university with copyright owners and representative organizations. The Copyright Act is the legislation in Canada that sets out what you can and can’t do with other people’s copyright materials. In addition to this, the university has special agreements with copyright owners, such as subscriptions to electronic journals, which specifically define your rights to certain content.

In order to determine whether what you want to do is permissible, you need to first check that you comply with any agreements or licences covering the work in question and/or the Copyright Act. You should ask yourself:

  • Is the work in question covered by agreements or licences that the University has with publishers or a public licence, such as a Creative Commons licence? If so, is what I want to do permissible under those agreements or licences? Check here for library licences.
  • If no agreement or licence is in place, is what I want to do covered by the Copyright Act, either under the educational exceptions or under Memorial's Fair Dealing Requirements?

If you're not covered by any agreement or licence or an exception under the Act, you'll need to get permission for what you want to do from the copyright owner. For assistance in obtaining permission, contact the Copyright Office.

1.2 What does copyright cover?

Copyright protects literary, artistic, dramatic and musical works, as well as sound recordings, performances and communication signals. This encompasses a wide range of things ranging from books, articles, posters, manuals and graphs, to CDs, DVDs, software, databases and websites.

1.3 How do I 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. However, this can depend on the type of work and where you want to use it. When you want to use a particular work in Canada, the safest approach is to assume that the work is protected by copyright unless there’s a clear indication to the contrary, or the author has been dead for at least 50 years.

1.4 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, and the right to communicate a work to the public by telecommunication. These rights are qualified by certain exceptions that balance the copyright owner’s interests with the public interest in allowing use of works for purposes such as education and research.

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

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:

  • The purpose of the dealing (Is it commerical, research or 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 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. For more guidance on how to apply the fair dealing factors to your particular circumstances, please contact the Copyright Office.

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 Memorial's Fair Dealing Requirements or contact the Copyright Office.

1.6 How long does copyright last?

How long copyright lasts depends on which country you are in. 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. Use of a work in Canada is governed by the Canadian rules for the duration of copyright protection.

1.7 What is meant by "the public domain"? How do I know if something is public domain?

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 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 publically available through the Internet. See question 2.11 for further information about using material found on websites.

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.

1.8 How does copyright work internationally?

Copyright is recognized internationally thanks to international conventions. So, generally, your copyright will be protected in other countries. But it is protected under that country’s laws so there may be some differences from the level of protection you would get in Canada. If you’re concerned about someone’s use of your work overseas, you will need to check the particular jurisdiction’s copyright laws to confirm whether they are infringing your copyright.

1.9 I'm from the United States. How is copyright different here?

In general, the copyright laws in the U.S. and Canada are different. For example, the U.S. has a provision known as ‘fair use’ that is different from the Canadian equivalent (‘fair dealing’).

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.

1.10 How do I get permission to use someone else's work?

You ask! If your use isn’t permitted by a licence, or one of the exceptions in the Copyright Act, you will need to ask for permission. For assistance with gaining permission, contact the Copyright Office or complete a Copyright Clearance Request Form.

 The permission must come from the copyright owner 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 licence) 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 SOCAN, 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.

1.11 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 that is prejudicial to the author’s reputation. These rights are important for authors to ensure they get appropriate recognition for their works and for prohibiting any prejudicial changes to their works.

1.12 Are there special rules for scanning?

If you want to scan something, you may do so only if the use falls within one of the exceptions in the Copyright Act. Exceptions include fair dealing, or where no permission is required, such as scanning a public domain work. If you want to scan a work that is still in copyright and add it to a website you need to be sure that the website is password protected (e.g. a secure learning management system such as Desire2Learn or Sharepoint) and restricted to students enrolled in your course. If what you want to do falls outside the exceptions and is not in the public domain, you will need to get the copyright owner’s permission.

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2. Copyright in the Campus Classroom

2.1 Can I make copies of copyright-protected works to hand out to students in class?

Yes. Under fair dealing you may make copies of another person’s works and hand them out to students enrolled in your course. You must adhere to the amount that may be copied under fair dealing. Please see the Fair Dealing Requirements for the copying limits.

2.2 Can I include copies of another person's images and materials in my presentations?

Yes. Under fair dealing you may include another person's work, including images, in your presentations (i.e. PowerPoint) that you display to students enrolled in your course. You must adhere to the amount that may be copied under fair dealing. Please see the Fair Dealing Requirements for the copying limits.

2.3 Can I post copies of copyright-protected works to a secure learning management system (such as Desire2Learn or Sharepoint)? Can I email copies to students enrolled in my course(s)?

Yes, you can if you adhere to the amount that may be copied under fair dealing. Please see the Fair Dealing Requirements for the copying limits. 

2.4 Is there any difference between posting something on my own website versus posting something on a secure learning management system (such as Desire2Learn or Sharepoint)?

Yes. Posting something on your own website means you are making the work available worldwide. Wide distribution tends towards the conclusion that the dealing is not “fair”. Further, unlimited distribution is rarely permitted by any University licences. By contrast, Memorial’s learning management systems (Desire2Learn or Sharepoint) are password protected, secure websites accessible only by students enrolled in university courses. In some cases, posting material on D2L will be covered by one of the University’s electronic subscriptions. Preference should always be given to posting on a password protected, secure website.

2.5 I've come across an article in a print journal that I want to give out to my students. Can I photocopy it and hand it out to them?

Yes. The Fair Dealing Requirements permit the copying of an entire journal article. Copies may be handed out to the students enrolled in your course or you may post a copy of the article to a secure learning management system such as Desire2Learn or Sharepoint.

2.6 May I post a PDF of a journal article I obtained through the Library’s ejournals, or an ebook chapter, to Memorial’s secure learning management systems (i.e. Desire2Learn or Sharepoint) for my students to read?

Posting a single article from an ejournal periodical publication or a book chapter from an ebook to Memorial’s secure learning management system (Desire2Learn or Sharepoint) may be permitted under the Fair Dealing Requirements, unless this is not allowed under the terms of Memorial’s digital licence for the specific ejournal or ebook provided by the Library. Please contact your Copyright Liaison Librarian for assistance to confirm whether the terms of a licence will allow this posting.

While posting a PDF of an ejournal article may be possible, it is worth considering whether there is a better alternative. In the Library’s experience, a direct link is the best way to allow your students to have access to the most recent version of an article. This is because it is common for publishers to make corrections or changes, such as adding supplementary material, to articles after initial publication. If you upload a PDF, your students will not see any changes that are made after a copy has been uploaded. Creating a direct link (see Question 3.2 for instructions) to the article also allows the Library to track use and obtain data about the importance of a particular journal to the campus.

It is important to remember that the Fair Dealing Requirements and Memorial’s digital licences generally do not permit you to upload to a website or create links on a website that is not part of Memorial’s secure network, and that is open to the world at large.

2.7 Can I play music in class?

Yes! The Copyright Act allows you to play a sound recording or live radio broadcasts in class as long as it is for educational purposes, not for profit, on University premises, before an audience consisting primarily of students. However, if you want to use music for non-educational purposes, for example, for background music at a conference or in an athletic facility, a licence must be obtained from the copyright collectives SOCAN and Re:Sound.

2.8 Can I play videos in class?

You may play videos in class in the following circumstances:

  • You may show a film or other cinematographic work in the classroom as long as the work is not an infringing copy, the film or work was legally obtained, and you do not circumvent a digital lock to access the film or work.
  • An educational institution (or those acting under their authority) may show a live broadcast, or copy television news programs or news commentaries and play them in class. If you wish to copy documentaries or other types of television programs, contact the Copyright Office.
  • You may show a work available through the Internet, e.g. YouTube videos, except under the following circumstances:
    • The work is protected by digital locks preventing their performance.
    • A clearly visible notice prohibiting educational use is posted on the website or on the work itself.
    • You have reason to believe that the work available on the Internet is in violation of the copyright owner’s rights.

2.9 Can students include copyright materials in their assignments and presentation?

Generally yes. Since fair dealing now includes education, students may include limited amounts of material in their assignments and presentations. See the Fair Dealing Requirements for details about amounts allowable under fair dealing.

2.10 Are there any databases of copyright materials that I can use for free without worrying about copyright?

Yes. There’s a wealth of material out there 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.

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.

For other online materials, a recommended best practice is to check the website’s ‘Terms of Use’, or ‘Legal Notices’ section to confirm what conditions apply to use of the website’s material. In many cases, you may be able to use the material for free for non-commercial and educational purposes.

2.11 Is it okay to use images or other material from the Internet for educational purposes?

It depends on what you want to do. Materials on the Internet are treated the same under copyright law as any other copyright materials, so if you want to use them, they have to either fall within one of the 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. You should check the website’s ‘Terms of Use’, or ‘Legal Notices’ section to confirm what conditions apply to use of the website’s material, including whether educational use is explicitly prohibited. Many websites will allow non-commercial educational use of their materials.

2.12 I gave a PowerPoint presentation in class that includes figures, charts, diagrams and/or other images from a textbook. Can I post it on a secure learning management system (such as Desire2Learn or Sharepoint)? I'll be sure to cite where the figures came from.

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, on Desire2Learn or Sharepoint. 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 Requirements). It’s important to note that if you wish to post such material to a website, that website must be password protected or otherwise restricted to students enrolled in your course.

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 defence 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.

2.13 Do I need to ask permission to link to a website?

Content on the web is copyrighted in the same way as print and other formats, even if there is no copyright symbol or notice. Because no copying occurs, linking directly to the web page containing the content you wish to use is almost always permissible. If you have reason to believe that the website may contain content posted without the permission of the copyright owner, you should avoid linking to it. In addition, if the web page to which you link does not clearly identify the website and content owner, you should also include the full details of the author, copyright owner and source of the materials with the link. This will avoid any suggestion that the website is your own material or that your website is somehow affiliated with the other site.

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3. Copyright in the Library (Reserves, Document Delivery and Electronic Resources)

3.1 Can E-Reserves link to full text resources that the Library has already paid for, such as ejournals and ebooks?

Generally yes, though there are a few exceptions. The Library will contact you if your requested E-Reserve is one of the exceptions.

3.2 Can I link to the electronic journal article myself on a secure learning management system (such as Desire2Learn or Sharepoint)?

Yes, you are free to create a direct link yourself, or take advantage of having the Library create them for you (without using E-Reserves). The links provided by the Library are more stable over time, automatically handle off-campus access, and offer alternate sources for articles where available. If you would like to create your own links, follow the instructions for Creating Links to Online Resources to ensure on- and off-campus access to library-licenced content. For assistance from the Library, contact your Copyright Liaison Librarian.

3.3 Can I link to ebooks myself on a secure learning management system (such as Desire2Learn or Sharepoint)?

Yes, you can create direct links yourself, or take advantage of having the Library create them for you (without using E-Reserves). Most library ebooks are, for reasons of economy, licensed for use by only one person at a time. When the Library is made aware that an ebook will be recommended reading for a class, we may be able to have the terms adjusted and avoid access problems. It may also be possible, where only a small portion of the content of the ebook is required, to post that portion in Desire2Learn or Sharepoint. See the Fair Dealing Requirements.

3.4 Will the Library scan articles or chapters and put them on E-Reserves for my class?

The Library does not add scanned material to E-Reserves. If you would like to provide your class with access to scanned content, please do so through Desire2Learn or Sharepoint. See more information about scanning under Copyright Basics.

3.5 What kind of print materials can the Library accept for inclusion as a paper reserve?

  • Personal material for which faculty own the copyright (e.g. lecture notes, assignments, solutions).
  • Original print books, journal issues or volumes, DVDs, CDs, etc.
    • Memorial University Libraries will purchase copies of original works not in their collections in order to place an original work on reserve, with the exception of textbooks adopted for courses. Send requests to your Copyright Liaison Librarian.
  • Photocopies of works in the public domain or covered by an appropriate Creative Commons licence.
  • Photocopies of copyright-protected works that were made in compliance with Memorial's Fair Dealing Requirements.

3.6 Where can I find more information about Library Reserves?

Visit Reserves Information for Faculty or contact your library branch.

QEII Library: 864-7423
Health Sciences Library: 777-6671
Ferriss Hodgett Library: 637-6236
Dr. C R Barrett Library: 778-0662

3.7 What are licences for electronic resources?

The Library has contracts with a variety of vendors and publishers that provide the campus with thousands of electronic resources (databases, ejournals, ebooks, etc.) costing millions of dollars per year.

In addition to paying for these resources, the Library negotiates licence agreements that stipulate how and by whom a given resource may be used. These licences provide both on- and off-campus access to content for current faculty, staff and registered students. Access for the general public is provided through on-campus terminals only.

If licence 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 licence 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.

Dos and don'ts

Usually OK: Not OK:
  • Making a limited number of print or electronic copies for your personal use
  • Systematic or substantial printing, copying or downloading (such as entire journal issues)
  • Using materials for personal, instructional or research needs
  • Selling or re-distributing content, or providing access to someone outside of the university community, such as an employer
  • Sharing with Memorial faculty, staff and students
  • Sharing with people other than registered Memorial faculty, staff and students
  • Posting links to specific content
  • Posting actual content or articles to third party websites or listservs
 
  • Modifying or altering the contents of licenced resources in any way

Always acknowledge your source on any published or unpublished document when you use data found on electronic resources.

GREY AREAS: Some licence agreements make express allowances for electronic reserves, course packs, multiple copies for classroom use and interlibrary lending. Other licences may prohibit one or more of these activities. If you have questions about a particular resource, please contact Louise White, Library Copyright Coordinator, louise.white@mi.mun.ca , or your branch Copyright Liaison Librarian.

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4. Copyright and Course Packs

4.1 Can I produce a printed course pack for sale to my students in the bookstore?

In rare cases where course packs may be necessary, please contact the Copyright Office.

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5. Copyright Contacts and Resources

5.1 Who do I talk to at Memorial if I have a copyright question?

Listed below are individuals with copyright expertise. They would be pleased to assist you.

Copyright Officers:
Nancy Simmons or Dallas Clairmont 

Library Copyright Coordinator:
Louise White

5.2 Is there anyone available to help me obtain copyright permission?

Please contact the Copyright Office for assistance.

5.3 How can I get more information about copyright?

Some key Memorial resources are:

There are many other websites with information about copyright. Some include:

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