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Copyright at SFU: Frequently asked questions

Some text derived from University of Waterloo and University of Saskatchewan copyright FAQs.

Copyright basics

  • Copyright is a set of rights relating to the reproduction of works. Works include text, art, music, dramatic works and computer programs, as well as sound recordings, performances and communication signals.

    Only the copyright holder can copy a work (or perform related actions including broadcasting, publishing, adapting or translating a work), or authorize others to do these things. The copyright holder is often the creator (e.g. author, artist, musician). However, copyright can be transferred, for example to a publisher, or held by someone else, such as an employer in the case of works created during employment.

    Copyright is a form of intellectual property and is governed in Canada by the Copyright Act. The Copyright Act is intended to balance the protection of creators' and copyright holders' economic and moral rights with the right of users to use works for public benefit and to further creative endeavour.

    In Canada, copyright protection happens automatically when a work is created, as long as the work is original, fixed (in a physical form) and created in Canada or in a country that is a member of the Berne Convention, Universal Copyright Convention or World Trade Organization (these three conventions cover almost every country in the world).

    In Canada, there is no requirement that a work be registered or that the word "copyright," or the symbol ©, appear on the work. However, it is a good idea to use the universal symbol © on any works you create, as it serves as a reminder to others that the work is protected. Other countries may have different requirements and offer different protections from those in Canada.

  • The Canadian Copyright Act, SFU copyright policies and various agreements and licenses entered into by the University with copyright owners and representative organizations cover the use of copyright materials at Simon Fraser University. The Copyright Act is the legislation in Canada that sets out what users can and can’t do with copyright protected materials. SFU's copyright policies describe how the university manages copyright and how copyright protected materials can be used for university teaching, learning, research and administration purposes. The University also has special agreements with copyright owners, such as subscriptions to electronic journals, which give you additional rights to certain content. 

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

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

    If you’re not covered by any agreement or license or an exception under the Act, you’ll need to get permission for what you want to do from the copyright owner. 

  • Copyright protection exists as soon as a work is created in a fixed form. A fact or idea is not subject to copyright protection, but the expression of the fact or idea is protected. 

    Copyright is a broad category that protects creators of:

    • Literary, dramatic, artistic, musical works (e.g. book, letter, e-mail, blog, computer program, compilation, government publication, script, play, film, painting, sculpture, photograph, map, architectural drawing, sheet music, compositions, music video, etc.)
    • Sound recording (e.g. lectures, animal sounds, nature sounds, music, audio book, etc.)
    • Performances (e.g. dancing, singing, acting, etc.)
    • Communication signals (e.g. pay-per-view, radio, satellite, broadcasts, etc.)

    Multiple copyrights may exist within one work. For example, a musical work may consist of the song (lyrics and music) and the recording of the song. In this case, the song and the recording would be considered two different works and may be protected by copyright as a musical work and sound recording. The lyrics may also be categorized as a literary work. Additionally, a live performance of this song by an artist could also be protected as a performance.

  • Copyright protection arises automatically when a work is created and generally subsists for 50 years after the author’s death, though this can vary depending on the type of work and where you want to use it. Works protected by copyright include literary, dramatic, artistic and musical works; sound recordings; performances; and communication signals. After copyright expires, the work enters the public domain and can be used freely without the need for permission or payment.

    In Canada, there is no requirement that the work be registered or that the word "copyright," or the symbol ©, appear on the work in order to be protected under the law.

    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 is a clear indication to the contrary or the author has been dead for at least 50 years. 

    For more information about duration of copyright protection in Canada see the Government of Canada’s About Copyright publication and the Canadian Public Domain Flowchart.

  • Some things are not protected by copyright. For example, copyright does not protect factual information or data, titles, short word combinations, names, characters, slogans, themes, plots, or ideas. These may be used or copied without permission or payment of royalties (unless they happen to be protected under trademark law).  

    Similarly, materials in the public domain can be copied freely, either because copyright protection has lapsed or because the copyright owner has indicated general permission to make copies. If the latter is the case, make certain you comply with any constraints the owner may have indicated regarding reproduction of the material.

  • Usually, the creator of a work (e.g., one who writes a book, magazine or newspaper article, play, poem, song lyrics or other writings, takes a photograph or makes a film, draws a map, or creates a painting, drawing, or sketch) is the first owner of the copyright in that work. However, ownership of copyright may be transferred in some cases, for example to a publisher. Copyright also applies to other subject matter, including sound recordings, performances and communication signals. Owning a copy of a work (e.g. a DVD or a book) does not mean that you own copyright in that work. Additionally, if material was created in the course of employment - unless there is an agreement to the contrary - the employer owns the copyright. Similarly, if a work has been commissioned the copyright will belong to the person or entity that commissioned the work.

    There are exceptions built into the Copyright Act which balance the copyright owner's interests with the public interest in allowing use of works for purposes like research and education, such as fair dealing.

  • Copyright owners have the sole legal right to:

    • produce or reproduce the work
    • perform the work in public
    • publish the work
    • translate the work
    • adapt the work to another format (e.g. novel to film, film to play)
    • record a literary, dramatic or musical work
    • broadcast the work
    • exhibit an artistic work
    • rent out a computer program, or a recording of a musical work
    • sell a work in the form of a tangible object (in certain circumstances)
    • authorize others to do any of these acts

    A copyright owner can license any or all of these rights to another entity (individual or organization) temporarily, or assign them to another entity permanently.

    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, such as fair dealing.

  • Copyright does not last forever. The main purpose of copyright law is to allow for creators of works to be reasonably rewarded for their creative efforts. How long it lasts depends on which country you are in. In Canada, copyright generally lasts for the life of the author, plus 50 years (i.e., the "life plus 50" rule). 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. 

    For example, in Canada, if a work is created on April 30, 1999, and the author dies on July 27, 2035, then copyright protection extends from April 30, 1999 to December 31, 2085. If the work was created by more than one person, copyright protection exists for the life of the creator who dies last, the remainder of the calendar year in which that person dies, plus 50 additional years. Some types of works such as sound recordings and some photographs and films may have a different length of copyright term. Both economic rights and moral rights subsist for the same period of time. 

    After copyright expires, a work becomes part of the public domain and may be freely copied and distributed. However, do not assume that works are in the public domain.

    Federal and provincial government documents are under Crown copyright. Crown copyright lasts for 50 years after the date of publication. Therefore, a government document published in 1998 is under crown copyright until December 31, 2048. More information on using federal government materials that are still under crown copyright can be found at About Crown Copyright.

  • Copyright does not last forever. The main purpose of copyright law is to allow for creators of works to be reasonably rewarded for their creative efforts. To that end, there are statutory rules to determine when copyright protection of a work comes to an end (e.g., the "life plus 50” rule). When the term of copyright expires, the work is said to come into the "public domain" and is then available for anyone to use and copy without seeking permission from the copyright owner (the author retains no rights in the work). This is the reason that Emily Carr's paintings and Stephen Leacock's writings no longer are protected by copyright. 

    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. 

    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 fair dealing or the exception for educational use of material publicly available through the Internet will cover many uses related to teaching. See the FAQs under Instructors – Using copyright protected material from the Internet for further information about using material found on websites. 

    Works can also be in the public domain because the work was either not eligible for copyright protection in the first place or the copyright owner has given copyright in the work to the public. Some copyright owners have made clear declarations that uses of their copyright works may be made without permission or payment. Such a declaration may be found on the work itself or the website where it is found. 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. However, restrictions can be placed on the uses that can be made of works and, in this case, you must be sure to use the material accordingly. 

    Project Gutenberg is a good resource for finding literary works in the public domain. See the Instructors' resources for more suggestions about how to locate works in the public domain.

    For more information about duration of copyright protection in Canada see the Government of Canada’s About Copyright publication and the Canadian Public Domain Flowchart.

  • Separate from economic rights, the creator of a copyright protected work is also entitled to moral rights, which include the right of paternity (to claim authorship, remain anonymous or adopt a pseudonym); the right of integrity (to prevent distortion, modification or mutilation of a work); and the right of association (to control activities associated with a work). 

    Even if a creator has assigned his or her copyright in a work to another entity, the creator would continue to hold the moral rights to the work. Moral rights can be waived or bequeathed but cannot be assigned (transferred).

  • You ask. If your use is not 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 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 which 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 does not fall within any of the Copyright Act’s exceptions, you may be able to obtain permission from copyright collectives such as 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 will 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 will 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, though an email will suffice. It is not advisable to rely on verbal permission because there is no documentary evidence to prove what was agreed to between you and the copyright owner. You should also keep a record of who gave the permission, what was permitted, the date, and how to contact the person who gave the permission. Leave plenty of time for this process, since you can't control how quickly the copyright owner might respond.

    Remember that copyright owners have the right to say no, charge a fee or impose conditions on the use of their work.

    Feel free to contact the Copyright Office (copy@sfu.ca) with any questions you might have about obtaining copyright permissions.

Copyright for instructors

  • Yes. If you are copying material for use in a course, fair dealing allows for limited copying of short excerpts of copyright protected works. SFU has fair dealing limits for copying for educational purposes set out in the policy Application of Fair Dealing under Policy R30.04. The material copied can only be distributed to students engaged in a specific course of study at SFU and cannot be made available to those not in the class. The short excerpt can be made available as a class handout (or email); in Canvas; or as part of a coursepack. See below, and refer to the Copyright Information Graphic for details.

    The amount of a short excerpt that can be copied for educational purposes under fair dealing at SFU is:

     (i) Up to 10% of a copyright protected work,

    (ii) One chapter from a book,

    (iii) A single article from a periodical,

    (iv) An entire artistic work from a copyright protected work containing other artistic works,

    (v) An entire newspaper article or page,

    (vi) An entire single poem or musical score from a copyright protected work containing other poems or musical scores,

    (vii) An entire entry from an encyclopedia, annotated bibliography, dictionary or similar reference work.

    The limits described above are mutually exclusive. Use the one that works best in the specific situation.

    NOTE: Copying or communicating multiple short excerpts from the same copyright protected work, with the:

    (i) Effect of exceeding the copying limits set out in Section 4.4 of this Appendix or

    (ii) Intention of copying or communicating substantially the entire work,

    is prohibited.

    If you are copying material for use on a website, in publicity materials, for publication or any other use outside a course, you may need the permission of the copyright holder. See the Instructors' resources page for sources of less copyright-restricted materials, or contact the Copyright Officer (copy@sfu.ca) with a specific question or for help obtaining permission.

  • Fair dealing is a user’s right in copyright law permitting use of, 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 protected material for the purpose of research, private study, education, satire, parody, criticism, review or news reporting, provided that what you do with the work is ‘fair’. If your purpose is criticism, review or news reporting, you must also mention the source and author of the work for it to be fair dealing.

    SFU has a Fair Dealing Policy which lays out how much you can copy for purposes of education, research and private study.

    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 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?)
    • The amount of the dealing (How much was copied?)
    • Alternatives to the dealing (Was the work necessary for the end result? Could a different work have been used instead?)
    • 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 satisfy 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, education, satire, parody, criticism, review or news reporting, 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 reporting you must also mention the source and author of the work for it to be fair dealing. 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 Application of Fair Dealing under Policy R30.04. These limits are also outlined in the left column of the Copyright Infographic.

    Please note as well; it is 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 are not relying on U.S. information, which has no jurisdiction in Canada.

  • No, scanning is allowed within the same parameters as any other method of copying.  

    If you want to scan something, you may do so only if the use falls within one of the exceptions in the Copyright Act, such as fair dealing, or where no permission is required, such as scanning a public domain work (one in which copyright has expired). 

    If you want to scan a work that is still in copyright and add it to a website under fair dealing, you need to be sure that the website is password protected (e.g., SFU’s learning management system) and restricted to students enrolled in your course, and follow the fair dealing limits. 

    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.

  • Yes. There is a wealth of material out there which is either in the public domain (meaning copyright has expired) or available under 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. This includes open access publications, which generally use Creative Commons licenses.

    For Creative Commons materials, visit the Creative Commons website for more information and check out their content directories which list audio, video, image and text materials available under Creative Commons licensing, or search using their Search page. To find open access materials, start with the Copyright Resources and Links for Instructors page.

    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 some cases, you may be able to use the material for free for non-commercial and educational purposes.

  • Being out of print does not mean that a book is no longer protected by copyright. Fair dealing for educational use allows making copies of "short excerpts," and other educational exceptions in the Copyright Act allow other specific uses; see the Copyright Infographic for copying guidelines for classroom use. If a longer portion is required and the book is still protected by copyright, you should contact the publisher to request permission to use the material. The SFU Bookstore can request permission for you, and distribute copies of the work once permission is obtained.

  • Yes, all government documents created in Canada are protected by copyright. Federal, territorial and provincial government documents are protected by Crown copyright and the term of Crown copyright is 50 years after the date of publication.

    Municipal government documents are not covered by Crown copyright, but instead fall under the normal copyright term of life of the creator plus 50 years. Check the website of the municipal government whose documents you wish to reproduce to see if they allow for reproduction for educational, non-commercial, or research purposes.

    For further information on the use of federal government documents that are under Crown copyright see About Crown Copyright.

    For further information about the use of BC government documents that are under Crown copyright see BC Government copyright page, Guidelines Covering the Reproduction of Provincial Legislation, and the Crown copyright section of the Ministry of Finance procurement handbook.

  • Data and factual information (e.g., rainfall or temperature measurements, mortality rates, population numbers, currency values, chemical structures, historical facts and dates, the number of Twitter followers someone has) are not protected by copyright. Additionally, simple and typical visualizations such as line graphs and tables, or the bar chart shown below, are often not creative enough to be eligible for copyright protection. These types of material may be able to be copied and used without permission.

    Total precipitation over the last year (monthly data) for Vancouver

    However, some types of research products that might be used in a similar way to data (e.g., photographs, audiovisual recordings, detailed diagrams and charts, collections of text mined from websites or publications) are most likely protected by copyright.

    If you are using someone else's data in your teaching or research, you will need to consider its copyright status, and ensure that you have the right or permission to copy and share it. Remember that fair dealing and other rights may apply.

    If you are generating or compiling data in your research, any copyright in these materials may belong to you, another member of your research team, or an external third party. If your data incorporates works created by others, you will need to consider the copyright status before sharing or making it public, unless your use of the work falls under fair dealing or a similar provision. Users of SFU's Research Data Repository Radar should ensure they have the right, or permission from any rightsholders, to deposit copyright-protected material (more information about copyright considerations for data deposits to Radar can be found on this page).

    Any questions about data and copyright can be directed the SFU Copyright Office at copy@sfu.ca.

    Image credit: Chart generated at vancouver.weatherstats.ca

     

  • The SFU Library provides access to ebooks from many different publishers on a variety of platforms.  Some of the ebook platforms include DRM (Digital Rights Management) to protect the content of their ebooks from copyright abuse. This means that you will encounter a variety of limitations in how much you can print, download and save from an ebook.

    Access to ebooks on third party platforms is an agreement between the platform and the publisher; the library has no involvement, except for the right to purchase (or lease) the ebook on an ebook platform. 

    It is common for a publisher, or an author, to request additional DRM limits (on top of the platform's standard DRM restrictions). Unfortunately, there is no way to know for sure which ebooks these additional limits apply to -- except when you attempt to do something that is beyond the limits, such as print 20 pages in one session if the publisher has set the limit to 15 pages on that platform.

    MyiLibrary

    • Allows eighty (80) pages of printing and ten (10) pages of downloads.
    • You must use the "print" and "save" buttons on the MyiLibrary toolbar - not the commands in the "file" menu of the browser
    • Please note that publishers may apply additional restrictions to these default printing and saving options.

    ebrary

    • The copy and print limits on most ebrary books are based on a percentage of the number of pages in the book.  (per book, per user session) Pages you can print = 30% and pages from which you can copy = 15%.
    • Allows full book download for two weeks (14 days) using Adobe Digital Editions
    • You must register for an account

    Ebook Collection (EBSCOhost)

    Gale Virtual Reference Library

    • Allows PDF downloads of a single article or portions of a single article at a time

    Safari Books Online

    • Allows one chapter section to be printed at once (usually 2-4 pages) and does not permit PDF downloads.
    • Limited to eight (8) simultaneous users

    Related:

  • Students at SFU are subject to Canada's Copyright Act and SFU's Copyright Policies when doing coursework and creating assignments including papers, projects, artworks and presentations. Students can use the fair dealing and educational exceptions when using copyright protected works in assignments for classes (see Infographic for details).

    Students own copyright in the works that they create at SFU, and such assignments, presentations and projects cannot be copied without the student's permission, except in certain situations outlined in the Copyright Act (see the Fair Dealing Policy for details).

    Please note that theses and dissertations require different copyright considerations because they will be published; see the Copyright and your thesis page for further information.

    Instructors own copyright in their teaching materials such as presentation slides, exams, lecture notes and the delivery of the lecture itself, and students cannot copy these works without the instructor's permission, except under fair dealing or another exception in the Copyright Act.

    The Copyright Office provides information and assistance to students on our Students page and via email (copy@sfu.ca). We also provide a sample copyright statement for instructors to use in course syllabi here.

  • Under Policy R30.03, SFU's Intellectual Property Policy, instructors own copyright in their research and their teaching materials, including lectures (both written notes and the "performance" of the lecture), slide presentations and exams. This means that generally, students cannot film your lecture, copy your notes or slides, or post these materials online without your permission.

    However, students still have the users' rights outlined in the Copyright Act, which means that within the limits of fair dealing, they can copy short excerpts of your work without permission.

    Additionally, you are required to accommodate students who need teaching materials in alternate formats due to a disability. Students registered with the Centre for Students with Disabilities can record your entire lecture or copy your slides if they need to. These copies are for their own personal use only, though, and cannot be shared or posted online. Such students should identify themselves to you in advance. Contact the Centre for Students with Disabilities with any questions about these requirements.

    You are welcome to inform your students that they cannot record your lectures; the Copyright Office provides sample syllabus text you can use, or you can write your own.

    Contact the Copyright Office (copy@sfu.ca) with any questions.

  • Under fair dealing you may include another person’s work, including images, in your PowerPoint presentations that you display to students enrolled in your course. You can copy and display an entire single image from a collection of images (e.g. a single photograph from a book of photographs), or up to 10% of a stand-alone image that is not part of a larger collection. You may also put this image in Canvas.

    Under the educational institution exceptions in the Copyright Act, you may display an entire stand-alone image that is not part of a larger collection of images. To do so you must ensure that there is not a commercially available copy (obtainable within a reasonable time and price) in the format required (S29.4 of Copyright Act). If you subsequently put this image in Canvas, you must destroy/remove the file from Canvas within 30 days of the end of the course. Simply making the file inaccessible is insufficient. (See S30.01 of the Copyright Act).

    See the Copyright Office's infographic for details.

  • Simon Fraser University instructors own copyright in their lectures, and students own copyright in their presentations and assignments, as per SFU Policy R30.03 Intellectual Property Policy, but you may not own the copyright to all of the content within your lecture or presentation. Many educational uses of copyright protected materials are allowed for through fair dealing and educational exceptions to the Copyright Act. However, what you can display in the classroom may be different from what you can distribute to students.

    It is important that access to the material is limited to the students enrolled in the course and that the copying limits of the Application of Fair Dealing under Policy R30.04 are respected if the slides will be handed out rather than just displayed in the classroom. If you need to make use of a greater volume of material than that which is permitted through fair dealing, you must:

    1. Remove copyright materials from the slides before creating the handouts,

    2. Request that SFU’s Copyright Officer evaluate whether a particular instance of copying or communication of a copyright-protected work is permitted under the fair dealing exception, or

    3. Seek express written permission from the copyright holder to copy and communicate that content.  Be sure to keep a copy of any permission you receive.

  • It depends on what you want to do. Materials on the Internet are treated the same under copyright law as any other copyright protected 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 exception relating to materials from the Internet), or be open access or in the public domain.

    Under the educational exception, you are permitted to copy, distribute, communicate or perform works found on the Internet to your students, provided that:

    1. The work is properly cited (e.g., source, author, performer, maker and/or broadcaster),
    2. The work is publicly available (i.e. access is not restricted by a technological protection measure),
    3. There is no clearly visible notice prohibiting the intended use (note that the copyright (c) symbol alone does not prohibit use), and
    4. It is apparent that the work was not copied or made available online in violation of the copyright owner's rights.

    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. Some websites will allow non-commercial educational use of their materials.

  • A work enters the public domain only after copyright expires, or if the creator has designated the work as such. 

    Most material found on the Internet is protected just like any other material (unless otherwise indicated). Text, charts, graphs, tables, photographs, music, movies, graphics, postings to news groups, blogs, e-mail messages, images, video clips, and computer software do not lose copyright protection simply because they are posted on the Internet.  

    However, educators are allowed to copy, distribute, communicate, or perform, works found on the Internet to their students, provided that:

    1. The work is properly cited (e.g., source, author, performer, maker, and/or broadcaster),
    2. The work is publicly available (e.g., access is not restricted by a Technological Protection Measure),
    3. There is no clearly visible notice (not just the copyright symbol alone) prohibiting the intended use, and
    4. It is apparent that the work was not made available in violation of the copyright owner’s rights.
  • Content on the web is protected by copyright in the same way as print and other formats, even if there is no copyright symbol or notice. Linking directly to the web page containing the content you wish to use is almost always permitted, although you need to make sure the content you are linking to is not in itself infringing copyright. In addition, if the web page 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 by 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. 

    If you have reason to believe that the web site may contain content posted without the permission of the copyright owner, you should avoid linking to it. In addition, you must comply with web site statements indicating that permission is required before material is reproduced or that it may not be reproduced at all. Such statements are typically found in sections titled ‘Terms of Use’ or ‘Legal Notices.’

  • If a video presentation is freely available on the open Internet (e.g., YouTube), then displaying such a video in an educational workshop or presentation is acceptable, provided that it is played live from the Internet rather than copied or downloaded. Similarly, displaying a live website from the open World Wide Web is permissible. Distributing links (even deep links) or URLs to online resources is appropriate, as long as security is not being circumvented and the material has been posted legally.

  • The licenses for some e-journals provided by the Library allow instructors to upload articles into secure learning management systems (LMS) such as Canvas. While there may be good reason to upload articles to the LMS, 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.  

    Making Readings Available to Students describes several different ways to make required and supplementary readings available to students online and suggests the pros and cons of each option. Each option has specific benefits along with specific cautions, including copyright compliance. 

    While uploading and linking to articles in the LMS may be 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. None of the licenses that the Library has with publishers allows for uploading to, or linking from, websites that allow access without authentication. 

  • As long as you adhere to the amounts that may be copied under fair dealing you may scan and post it on SFU’s learning management system (LMS), Canvas. See the Application of Fair Dealing under Policy R30.04 for the copying limits. It is important to note that SFU's fair dealing policy does not allow you to post material to a website unless that website is password protected and restricted to students enrolled in your course. If you want to scan a copyright protected work for inclusion on an open (public) website, you will need to obtain permission from the copyright owner.

    If you do post copyright protected material, copied under fair dealing limits, include a clearly visible notice on all materials you post that states:
    This item has been copied under the Fair Dealing provisions of the Copyright Act as enumerated in SFU Appendix R30.04A - Application of Fair Dealing under Policy R30.04. You may not distribute, e-mail or otherwise communicate these materials to any other person.

  • There are two exceptions in the Copyright Act that can apply to this situation - fair dealing and educational exceptions. The Copyright Infographic spells out the possibilities and limitations of both of these exceptions.

    Under fair dealing you may post charts, diagrams or other images from textbooks, or other works, to SFU’s learning management system (Canvas), as long as you adhere to permitted amounts of material. 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 Application of Fair Dealing under Policy R30.04). It is 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.  

    Include a clearly visible notice on all materials you post using the fair dealing limits that states:

    This item has been copied under the Fair Dealing provisions of the Copyright Act as enumerated in SFU Appendix R30.04A - Application of Fair Dealing under Policy R30.04. You may not distribute, e-mail or otherwise communicate these materials to any other person.

    Under an educational exception in the Copyright Act you may display entire works in the classroom if necessary, if you are unable to find a commercially available version in the format you require. As well, under section 30.01 of the Copyright Act, you may post this same presentation in Canvas, but it must also be restricted to students enrolled in your course, and must be destroyed within 30 days from the end of the course.

    Include a clearly visible notice on all materials you post using the educational exception that states:

    This item has been copied under section 30.01 of the Copyright Act. You may not distribute, e-mail or otherwise communicate these materials to any other person. You must delete all copies of these materials within 30 days of the end of the course they pertain to.

  • Yes. Canvas, SFU's learning management system (LMS) is password protected and accessible only by students enrolled in a particular course. A publicly accessible website is accessible by the whole world. SFU's Fair Dealing Policy (Application of Fair Dealing Under Policy R30.04) provides parameters for making copyright protected materials available to your students, but specifically limits you to handing materials out in class, emailing them directly to your students, posting them in Canvas or including them in a course pack produced by the Bookstore. This policy is based on the fair dealing right in Canada's Copyright Act; wider distribution, such as on an open website, is generally considered less "fair." Additionally, some of the University's electronic subscriptions specifically permit articles and other materials to be posted only in restricted course management systems.

  • Yes, as long as the content has not been posted in an infringing manner and there is no stated restriction on using the material. Do not embed, or link to, any material that you know, or suspect, has been illegally posted.

  • In order to comply with Copyright Policy R30.04 (Appendix D), each semester a random sample of instructors will be asked to complete one of two Copyright Provision Recordkeeping Surveys (Survey A and Survey B), which will record the various provisions under which they have posted copyright protected material in Canvas.

    Copyright Policy appendix R30.04D Application of Appendix R30.04A (Fair Dealing Policy) to Learning Management Systems states:

    "If content is uploaded or posted to an LMS by faculty members or their staff, the faculty or staff may be required to identify the reason that they are entitled to post each work or excerpt (e.g. permission obtained from the copyright holder, public domain, fair dealing, other exemption under the Copyright Act). For certain content posted to the LMS (e.g. classroom presentations containing excerpts from a number of works) multiple reasons could apply."

    The Copyright Office is required by this policy to collect statistics on faculty and staff use of copyright protected material in Canvas. Uploading copyright protected material to Canvas is reproducing a work (making a copy) and therefore to post such material in Canvas an instructor must either have the permission of the copyright holder or be using an eligible exception in the Copyright Act, such as fair dealing.

    A small percentage of Canvas courses will be randomly selected each semester, and those instructors will be asked to complete an anonymous web survey based on the materials uploaded to their Canvas courses. One survey (Survey A) will ask what types of materials (e.g. course documents such as syllabi and lecture notes, readings such as articles and websites, images such as photographs and maps, or audiovisual materials such as movie clips and sound recordings) the instructor has uploaded, how often these materials include copyright protected works, how the instructor finds such materials, and what copyright provisions (e.g. fair dealing, public domain, Library license) have allowed the instructor to copy these materials. The other survey (Survey B) will preselect a small number of uploaded files from the instructor's Canvas course, and will ask for the copyright provision(s) used to copy each specific file. Neither survey should take more than ten to fifteen minutes to complete.

    This collection of statistics is a recordkeeping exercise which will show us how copyright protected materials are used on campus, and may also help us determine where more education or outreach may be required. This is not a compliance monitoring process. We will not be contacting or "investigating" anyone based on their responses; in fact both surveys are anonymous. Instructors will not be selected for either survey more than once per year.

    Information about what constitutes fair dealing and how instructors can use copyright protected materials in their teaching can be found on the Copyright for Instructors at SFU section of the copyright website. Please also see the Infographic, which concisely spells out how you can use copyright protected materials for teaching.

    Further information about the survey and how to complete it is available on the Copyright Provision Recordkeeping Survey page. Please send all questions about the survey to the Copyright Office at copy@sfu.ca.

  • The Simon Fraser 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.) costing millions of dollars per year. 

    In addition to paying for these resources, the Library negotiates license agreements that stipulate how and by whom a given resource may be used. Only currently registered faculty, students or staff will be registered with the proxy server for off-campus access. Access for the general public is made available through terminals within the Library. 

    Here are some rules of thumb for good practices and avoiding improper use. Improper use, known as a license violation, can result in the university’s temporary, or permanent, loss of access to a resource.

    Do's 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 SFU faculty, staff and students
    • Sharing with people other than registered SFU faculty, staff and students except via interlibrary loan.
    • Posting links to specific content
    • Posting actual content or articles to third party web sites or listservs
     
    • Modifying or altering the contents of licensed resources in any way

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

    Please note: Some license agreements make express allowances for electronic reserves (including posting to a learning management system), course packs and multiple copies for classroom use. Other licenses may prohibit one or more of these activities. If you have questions about a particular resource, please consult the Library’s Electronic Journals listing and the Journal Articles & Databases link. Descriptions specify the allowable terms of use to copy material for use in electronic reserves, course packs and interlibrary loan. If you have questions about a particular resource, please contact the Electronic Resources Librarian.

  • A course pack is a bound compilation of works from more than one source. The Bookstore can assist you in producing a course pack. Please contact the Custom Course Materials Coordinator for more information on how to create a course pack as well as important deadlines. 

    Note: There are some special cases, such as reproducing out-of-print books or rare/fragile materials, which may take longer for copyright clearance. When you place your order, the Custom Course Materials Coordinator can assess what copyright clearance may be required. Obtaining clearances for such materials can take quite some time (an average of 6-8 weeks or more) so ensure you submit your requests early to be assured that your course pack will be available in time. You will need to comply with any deadlines as set out by the Bookstore.

  • If you post a copy to Canvas, SFU's learning management system (LMS), and fair dealing covers it, it is likely that the copy can be included in a course pack without permission. If, however, the copy posted to Canvas is permitted under a license agreement between SFU and the publisher, it is necessary to consult the license agreement to determine whether a copy may also be included in a course pack. Some copyright holders will grant users permission to put material on password-secured websites, like SFU's learning management system, but not to put the material in a course pack. The Custom Course Materials Coordinator must confirm whether permission is required separately, even if the material is already on Canvas.

  • Copyright owners and creators of works have the right to charge a fee for the use of their materials unless fair dealing, another Copyright Act exception or a Library license otherwise covers the use. The cost of course packs varies depending on the copyright fees charged by the copyright owner, the number of pages and documents, and the volume of course packs being produced. Those costs are generally reflected in the selling price of the course pack, over which SFU has no control. Copyright fees are collected on behalf of the copyright owners and remitted to them.

  • No. University policy only allows for incurred costs to be recouped on course pack sales to students. Commercial copy shops, in order to maintain a profitable business, charge fees beyond simple cost recovery. The generation of profit from the sale of reproductions of copyright protected works made under fair dealing is not permitted.

    SFU Policy Appendix R30.04A - Application of Fair Dealing under Policy R30.04, in section 4.6, states: "Any fee charged by the University for copying or communicating a short excerpt from a copyright protected work must be intended to cover only the costs to the University, including overhead costs."

    Please contact the Custom Course Materials Coordinator for more information on how to create a course pack as well as important deadlines.

  • 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 technological protection measure (digital lock) to access the film or work.
    • If you want to show a television news program in the classroom, under the Copyright Act, educational institutions (or those acting under their authority) may copy television news programs or news commentaries and play them in class. 
    • You may perform 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, or
      • You have reason to believe that the work was copied or posted online in violation of the copyright owner’s rights.

    If you want to show a video in class and need assistance in obtaining video programming, please contact the Media Resource Centre in the SFU Library for more information.

  • Yes. The Copyright Act allows you to play a sound recording or live radio broadcasts in class as long as it is:

    1. For educational purposes,
    2. Not for profit,
    3. On University premises, and
    4. 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, licenses must be obtained from the copyright collectives SOCAN and Re:Sound.

  • If a video presentation is freely available on the open Internet (e.g., YouTube), then displaying such a video in an educational workshop or presentation is acceptable, provided that it is played live from the Internet rather than copied or downloaded. Similarly, displaying a live website from the open World Wide Web is permissible. Distributing links (even deep links) or URLs to online resources is appropriate, as long as security is not being circumvented and the material has been posted legally.

  • Yes, as long as the content has not been posted in an infringing manner and there is no stated restriction on using the material. Do not embed, or link to, any material that you know, or suspect, has been illegally posted.

Copyright for staff

  • If your department needs photographs, video footage or music for promotional uses, check SFU Creative Services' Image Library or Video Library, or consider hiring Creative Services to create exactly what you need. This eliminates copyright concerns because the copyright in Creative Services' work already belongs to SFU.

    If you do need to license media that was created by someone outside of SFU, there are a few copyright considerations to keep in mind.

    A media outlet or other company or organization may have a standard agreement for licensing copyright protected works. You will want to review this document carefully to ensure it includes the right for SFU (not just your department) to use the image/footage/track in any way and for all time. If this is not part of their standard agreement, ask to negotiate it in. See clause 1 of the template Consent and Release license for the kind of reuses and wording that you want to ensure are included in the license.

    If you are asking an individual (such as an alumnus or student, attendee at an event, or other member of the public) for permission to use their image/recording, you will have to provide a license for them to sign. We have a template Consent and Release license you can use; just fill in the required information. This license gives SFU the right to use that material in any way and for all time.

    Keep all signed agreements on file in your office.

  • You ask. If your use is not 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 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 which 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 does not fall within any of the Copyright Act’s exceptions, you may be able to obtain permission from copyright collectives such as 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 will 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 will 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, though an email will suffice. It is not advisable to rely on verbal permission because there is no documentary evidence to prove what was agreed to between you and the copyright owner. You should also keep a record of who gave the permission, what was permitted, the date, and how to contact the person who gave the permission. Leave plenty of time for this process, since you can't control how quickly the copyright owner might respond.

    Remember that copyright owners have the right to say no, charge a fee or impose conditions on the use of their work.

    Feel free to contact the Copyright Office (copy@sfu.ca) with any questions you might have about obtaining copyright permissions.

Copyright for students

Coursework

  • Yes. If you are copying material for use in a course, fair dealing allows for limited copying of short excerpts of copyright protected works. SFU has fair dealing limits for copying for educational purposes set out in the policy Application of Fair Dealing under Policy R30.04. The material copied can only be distributed to students engaged in a specific course of study at SFU and cannot be made available to those not in the class. The short excerpt can be made available as a class handout (or email); in Canvas; or as part of a coursepack. See below, and refer to the Copyright Information Graphic for details.

    The amount of a short excerpt that can be copied for educational purposes under fair dealing at SFU is:

     (i) Up to 10% of a copyright protected work,

    (ii) One chapter from a book,

    (iii) A single article from a periodical,

    (iv) An entire artistic work from a copyright protected work containing other artistic works,

    (v) An entire newspaper article or page,

    (vi) An entire single poem or musical score from a copyright protected work containing other poems or musical scores,

    (vii) An entire entry from an encyclopedia, annotated bibliography, dictionary or similar reference work.

    The limits described above are mutually exclusive. Use the one that works best in the specific situation.

    NOTE: Copying or communicating multiple short excerpts from the same copyright protected work, with the:

    (i) Effect of exceeding the copying limits set out in Section 4.4 of this Appendix or

    (ii) Intention of copying or communicating substantially the entire work,

    is prohibited.

    If you are copying material for use on a website, in publicity materials, for publication or any other use outside a course, you may need the permission of the copyright holder. See the Instructors' resources page for sources of less copyright-restricted materials, or contact the Copyright Officer (copy@sfu.ca) with a specific question or for help obtaining permission.

  • Most images you find on the Internet, in books and elsewhere are protected by copyright. The act of creating something automatically gives it copyright protection. For example, you own the copyright in the photographs you take with your smart phone.

    The use of copyright protected images in student assignments and presentations for university courses is covered by Copyright Act exceptions for fair dealing and educational institution users. The fair dealing exception allows you to use excerpts of copyright protected material in certain circumstances without asking permission. The educational institution exceptions permit specific uses of copyright protected material by instructors in the classroom. See the FAQ "Is there a limit to how much I can copy?" for a simple break down of how much you can copy under SFU's Fair Dealing Policy, which is the University's guidelines for working under fair dealing. See the Copyright Office's infographic describing both fair dealing and the educational institution exceptions for instructors, to find out what you can do when presenting to your class, handing things out to your classmates, or otherwise acting like an "instructor" in your course.

    In general in your course assignments you can, under fair dealing for purposes of research, private study and education, use one entire image from a compilation of images (e.g. a gallery of images on the Web, a coffee table book), or up to 10% of a stand alone image (an image that is not part of a larger compilation but is on its own such as a photograph pinned up on your wall). The educational institution exceptions will allow you to display an entire work (even a whole stand alone image) in the classroom (e.g. in your PowerPoint slides), but not to hand out copies.

    In certain circumstances you may be able to use more than a "short excerpt" (e.g. 10%) of a work under fair dealing. SFU's Fair Dealing Policy sets out "safe harbour" limits for working under fair dealing at SFU, but the Copyright Act does not impose specific limits. See the FAQ "What is fair dealing and how does it relate to copyright?" for more information. If you want to use more than is outlined in the policy, and your use doesn't fall under the educational exceptions, contact the Copyright Office to ask for a fair dealing assessment to be performed.

    It is also an excellent idea to look for images that come with re-use rights, which you can freely use within the limits of any license terms. Examples are materials posted to the Web under a Creative Commons license, or materials that are out of copyright and now in the public domain. You can search for such material using the Creative Commons search engine.

    Please contact the Copyright Officer at copy@sfu.ca if you have questions.

  • The SFU Library provides access to ebooks from many different publishers on a variety of platforms.  Some of the ebook platforms include DRM (Digital Rights Management) to protect the content of their ebooks from copyright abuse. This means that you will encounter a variety of limitations in how much you can print, download and save from an ebook.

    Access to ebooks on third party platforms is an agreement between the platform and the publisher; the library has no involvement, except for the right to purchase (or lease) the ebook on an ebook platform. 

    It is common for a publisher, or an author, to request additional DRM limits (on top of the platform's standard DRM restrictions). Unfortunately, there is no way to know for sure which ebooks these additional limits apply to -- except when you attempt to do something that is beyond the limits, such as print 20 pages in one session if the publisher has set the limit to 15 pages on that platform.

    MyiLibrary

    • Allows eighty (80) pages of printing and ten (10) pages of downloads.
    • You must use the "print" and "save" buttons on the MyiLibrary toolbar - not the commands in the "file" menu of the browser
    • Please note that publishers may apply additional restrictions to these default printing and saving options.

    ebrary

    • The copy and print limits on most ebrary books are based on a percentage of the number of pages in the book.  (per book, per user session) Pages you can print = 30% and pages from which you can copy = 15%.
    • Allows full book download for two weeks (14 days) using Adobe Digital Editions
    • You must register for an account

    Ebook Collection (EBSCOhost)

    Gale Virtual Reference Library

    • Allows PDF downloads of a single article or portions of a single article at a time

    Safari Books Online

    • Allows one chapter section to be printed at once (usually 2-4 pages) and does not permit PDF downloads.
    • Limited to eight (8) simultaneous users

    Related:

  • Yes. The Copyright Act specifies that “every original literary, dramatic, musical and artistic work” is protected by copyright, and this includes student work as well as your thesis. This means that your permission is required in order for an instructor to keep a copy to share it with future students.

    Additionally, SFU's Intellectual Property Policy specifies that "IP created exclusively by a student Creator in the course of completing the requirements for an academic degree or certificate is owned by the student Creator." Remember that if you are collaborating with a faculty member, or anyone else, you should discuss the intellectual property rights and any necessary agreements before beginning the project.

Theses

  • It all depends on the wording of the Author/Publisher Agreement, sometimes called a Copyright Transfer Agreement, that you signed with the publisher of your work. Often times these agreements transfer most copyright in your work to the publisher, leaving you with very few rights to the work. If your Author/Publisher Agreement does not allow for you to re-publish the material in your thesis, you will need to contact the publisher and ask them for permission to use the work.

    If you are planning on submitting work to be published, and you already know that you will want to later include this material in your thesis, try to ensure that you get wording in the Author/Publisher Agreement that allows you to include the material in your thesis. You can see examples of author addendums for this purpose at SPARC Canadian Author Addendum.

  • If the thesis includes reproductions of copyright protected images, including but not limited to, figures, drawings, paintings, photographs, logos, maps, diagrams, tables or charts, the author of the thesis must in most cases obtain written authorization from the copyright holder in order to reproduce this material for inclusion in the thesis. If fair dealing applies, the material is usable under a Creative Commons or similar license or the material is not protected by copyright, permission may not be necessary, but documentation of the exception may be required. Contact the Copyright Office (copy@sfu.ca) for more information.

    The request for permission from the copyright holder must state that the thesis will be available in full-text format on the internet for reference, study and / or copying and that the electronic version of the thesis will be accessible through Summit, the SFU Digital Research Repository and through the Library’s online catalogue.

    For theses and dissertations (but not projects or extended essays) the letter also needs to state that Library and Archives Canada will be granted a non-exclusive license to reproduce, loan, or distribute single copies of the thesis by any means and in any form or format.

    A template letter prepared by the Copyright Officer is available for you to modify and use when requesting permissions.

  • Copyright does not last forever. The main purpose of copyright law is to allow for creators of works to be reasonably rewarded for their creative efforts. To that end, there are statutory rules to determine when copyright protection of a work comes to an end (e.g., the "life plus 50” rule). When the term of copyright expires, the work is said to come into the "public domain" and is then available for anyone to use and copy without seeking permission from the copyright owner (the author retains no rights in the work). This is the reason that Emily Carr's paintings and Stephen Leacock's writings no longer are protected by copyright. 

    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. 

    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 fair dealing or the exception for educational use of material publicly available through the Internet will cover many uses related to teaching. See the FAQs under Instructors – Using copyright protected material from the Internet for further information about using material found on websites. 

    Works can also be in the public domain because the work was either not eligible for copyright protection in the first place or the copyright owner has given copyright in the work to the public. Some copyright owners have made clear declarations that uses of their copyright works may be made without permission or payment. Such a declaration may be found on the work itself or the website where it is found. 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. However, restrictions can be placed on the uses that can be made of works and, in this case, you must be sure to use the material accordingly. 

    Project Gutenberg is a good resource for finding literary works in the public domain. See the Instructors' resources for more suggestions about how to locate works in the public domain.

    For more information about duration of copyright protection in Canada see the Government of Canada’s About Copyright publication and the Canadian Public Domain Flowchart.

  • Yes, all government documents created in Canada are protected by copyright. Federal, territorial and provincial government documents are protected by Crown copyright and the term of Crown copyright is 50 years after the date of publication.

    Municipal government documents are not covered by Crown copyright, but instead fall under the normal copyright term of life of the creator plus 50 years. Check the website of the municipal government whose documents you wish to reproduce to see if they allow for reproduction for educational, non-commercial, or research purposes.

    For further information on the use of federal government documents that are under Crown copyright see About Crown Copyright.

    For further information about the use of BC government documents that are under Crown copyright see BC Government copyright page, Guidelines Covering the Reproduction of Provincial Legislation, and the Crown copyright section of the Ministry of Finance procurement handbook.

  • Creative Commons is a non-profit organization that has developed a suite of licenses that authors and other creators can apply to their works to permit sharing and distribution. Applying a Creative Commons (CC) license to your written, artistic, musical or multimedia work means that you retain ownership of copyright but you permit certain uses of your work without the user needing to contact you for permission each time. You also waive your moral rights, to the extent required for users to use your works according to the applied license. Please note that users of copyright protected works (including those under CC licenses) have certain rights in Canada’s Copyright Act; these rights will supersede the terms of a CC license where applicable.

    You must be the copyright holder of the work and any other works contained within it (such as photographs, diagrams, articles, video clips, etc.), or have license or permission to include these works, in order to apply a CC license. Once you make your work available under a specific CC license, you cannot revoke or change the license associated with that specific work (though of course you may stop distributing the material).

    There are six different CC licenses, each with various parameters and requirements, ranging from extremely open and permissive to slightly less so. All CC licenses will permit typical teaching uses such as displaying in the classroom, distributing to students or posting in Canvas. These licenses are described below.

    by  CC BY (Attribution)

    The most open of Creative Commons licenses, this option permits others to copy, distribute, adapt and otherwise use your work in any way without contacting your for permission. However, they are required to credit you in any use they make of your work.

    by-sa  CC BY-SA (Attribution-ShareAlike)

    This license permits others to copy, distribute, adapt and otherwise use your work in any way without contacting you for permission. However, they are required to credit you in any use they make of your work, and also to license any derivative work (e.g. an adapted version) under the same license.

    by-nd  CC BY-ND (Attribution-NoDerivs [No Derivatives])

    This license permits others to copy and distribute your work without contacting you for permission. However, they are required to credit you on the copies they make and they are not permitted to change your work in any way.

    by-nc  CC BY-NC (Attribution-NonCommercial)

    This license permits others to copy, distribute, adapt and otherwise use your work without contacting you for permission. However, they are required to credit you in any use they make of your work and they are not permitted to use the work for commercial purposes. Non-commercial purposes are defined by Creative Commons as those “not primarily intended or directed towards commercial advantage or monetary compensation.”

    by-nc-sa  CC BY-NC-SA (Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike)

    This license permits others to copy, distribute, adapt and otherwise use your work without contacting you for permission. However, they must credit you in any use they make of the work; they are not permitted to use the work for commercial purposes; and they must license any derivative work (e.g. an adapted version) under the same license. Non-commercial purposes are defined by Creative Commons as those “not primarily intended or directed towards commercial advantage or monetary compensation.”

    by-nc-nd  CC BY-NC-ND (Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs [No Derivatives])

    This license permits others to copy and distribute your work without contacting you for permission. However, they must credit you on any copies they make; they are not permitted to use the work for commercial purposes; and they are not permitted to change your work in any way. Non-commercial purposes are defined by Creative Commons as those “not primarily intended or directed towards commercial advantage or monetary compensation.”

     

  • You ask. If your use is not 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 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 which 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 does not fall within any of the Copyright Act’s exceptions, you may be able to obtain permission from copyright collectives such as 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 will 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 will 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, though an email will suffice. It is not advisable to rely on verbal permission because there is no documentary evidence to prove what was agreed to between you and the copyright owner. You should also keep a record of who gave the permission, what was permitted, the date, and how to contact the person who gave the permission. Leave plenty of time for this process, since you can't control how quickly the copyright owner might respond.

    Remember that copyright owners have the right to say no, charge a fee or impose conditions on the use of their work.

    Feel free to contact the Copyright Office (copy@sfu.ca) with any questions you might have about obtaining copyright permissions.

  • Yes. However, when submitting your thesis, you will be required to grant a partial copyright license allowing the University Library to post your thesis in Summit, the University’s digital research repository, and allowing Library and Archives Canada to make your thesis available on the Internet and in searchable databases. These license clearly stipulates that you own the copyright to your thesis, but that you have allowed "non-exclusive" use of your thesis by the University Library and by Library and Archives Canada.

Copyright for authors and other creators

  • Intellectual property (IP) protects the intangible or intellectual nature of a work and is the legal rights that result from intellectual activity in the industrial, scientific, literary and artistic fields. For example, copyright protects many types of works and only the copyright owner has the right to reproduce an entire work or a substantial part of it. Intellectual property (IP) includes:

    • Copyright
    • Patents (inventions)
    • Trade-marks (logos, words, symbols)
    • Industrial designs (“pretty” shapes or designs of useful items)
    • Confidential information and trade secrets (ideas, concepts, facts)
    • Integrated circuit topography (microchips)

    The rights above are granted for intellectual creativity.

  • No. Copyright in a work exists automatically when an original literary, artistic or dramatic work is created, or a performance, sound recording or broadcasting signal is created or published, so the owner is protected under copyright common law. Under Canadian copyright law, the work does not need to be registered and the symbol © is not required to appear on the work. There may not even be any reference to copyright protection. It is possible for the work to be registered under a voluntary government registration system, such as that of the Canadian Intellectual Property Office (CIPO). Registration with the Canadian Intellectual Property Office does not preclude or enhance protection. However, it is still a good idea to register your copyright and to indicate notice of copyright on your works.

  • In Canada, an original work is automatically protected by copyright as soon as it is created in a fixed form (e.g., written down on paper, saved on a computer, recorded, videotaped or painted on canvas), except for a sound recording, performer’s performance or communication signal, which may be transmitted instead of fixed. The work does not have to be in its final form.

  • Copyright owners have the sole legal right to:

    • produce or reproduce the work
    • perform the work in public
    • publish the work
    • translate the work
    • adapt the work to another format (e.g. novel to film, film to play)
    • record a literary, dramatic or musical work
    • broadcast the work
    • exhibit an artistic work
    • rent out a computer program, or a recording of a musical work
    • sell a work in the form of a tangible object (in certain circumstances)
    • authorize others to do any of these acts

    A copyright owner can license any or all of these rights to another entity (individual or organization) temporarily, or assign them to another entity permanently.

    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, such as fair dealing.

  • Economic rights are held by the owner of the copyright and include the right to produce, reproduce, present, communicate or publish the work, or to authorize others to do these things, depending on the type of work, and to benefit financially from the work. 

    Economic rights can be licensed (temporarily) or assigned (permanently) to another entity.

  • Separate from economic rights, the creator of a copyright protected work is also entitled to moral rights, which include the right of paternity (to claim authorship, remain anonymous or adopt a pseudonym); the right of integrity (to prevent distortion, modification or mutilation of a work); and the right of association (to control activities associated with a work). 

    Even if a creator has assigned his or her copyright in a work to another entity, the creator would continue to hold the moral rights to the work. Moral rights can be waived or bequeathed but cannot be assigned (transferred).

  • Creative Commons is a non-profit organization that has developed a suite of licenses that authors and other creators can apply to their works to permit sharing and distribution. Applying a Creative Commons (CC) license to your written, artistic, musical or multimedia work means that you retain ownership of copyright but you permit certain uses of your work without the user needing to contact you for permission each time. You also waive your moral rights, to the extent required for users to use your works according to the applied license. Please note that users of copyright protected works (including those under CC licenses) have certain rights in Canada’s Copyright Act; these rights will supersede the terms of a CC license where applicable.

    You must be the copyright holder of the work and any other works contained within it (such as photographs, diagrams, articles, video clips, etc.), or have license or permission to include these works, in order to apply a CC license. Once you make your work available under a specific CC license, you cannot revoke or change the license associated with that specific work (though of course you may stop distributing the material).

    There are six different CC licenses, each with various parameters and requirements, ranging from extremely open and permissive to slightly less so. All CC licenses will permit typical teaching uses such as displaying in the classroom, distributing to students or posting in Canvas. These licenses are described below.

    by  CC BY (Attribution)

    The most open of Creative Commons licenses, this option permits others to copy, distribute, adapt and otherwise use your work in any way without contacting your for permission. However, they are required to credit you in any use they make of your work.

    by-sa  CC BY-SA (Attribution-ShareAlike)

    This license permits others to copy, distribute, adapt and otherwise use your work in any way without contacting you for permission. However, they are required to credit you in any use they make of your work, and also to license any derivative work (e.g. an adapted version) under the same license.

    by-nd  CC BY-ND (Attribution-NoDerivs [No Derivatives])

    This license permits others to copy and distribute your work without contacting you for permission. However, they are required to credit you on the copies they make and they are not permitted to change your work in any way.

    by-nc  CC BY-NC (Attribution-NonCommercial)

    This license permits others to copy, distribute, adapt and otherwise use your work without contacting you for permission. However, they are required to credit you in any use they make of your work and they are not permitted to use the work for commercial purposes. Non-commercial purposes are defined by Creative Commons as those “not primarily intended or directed towards commercial advantage or monetary compensation.”

    by-nc-sa  CC BY-NC-SA (Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike)

    This license permits others to copy, distribute, adapt and otherwise use your work without contacting you for permission. However, they must credit you in any use they make of the work; they are not permitted to use the work for commercial purposes; and they must license any derivative work (e.g. an adapted version) under the same license. Non-commercial purposes are defined by Creative Commons as those “not primarily intended or directed towards commercial advantage or monetary compensation.”

    by-nc-nd  CC BY-NC-ND (Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs [No Derivatives])

    This license permits others to copy and distribute your work without contacting you for permission. However, they must credit you on any copies they make; they are not permitted to use the work for commercial purposes; and they are not permitted to change your work in any way. Non-commercial purposes are defined by Creative Commons as those “not primarily intended or directed towards commercial advantage or monetary compensation.”

     

  • This depends on whether your works have been published and if so, the agreements that you signed with the publisher. If you retained copyright, you can copy, distribute, adapt, translate, republish and do all the other things protected by copyright. You can also give or withhold permission for others to do these things, at your discretion. If you signed copyright over to a publisher, then the publisher has the right to allow copies or uses to be made of the work, and you must request permission from the publisher to reproduce it. Sometimes publishers will grant some rights back to authors in their agreements; check your agreement or contact your publisher to see what rights you may have retained.

  • Sometimes, but not necessarily. The author or creator holds copyright in their work as soon as it is created, unless and until they assign that right to another entity. Publishing a work and creating a work during the course of employment are two situations in which copyright is often transferred.

    In most cases, the publisher holds copyright of a published work unless the publisher works with an open access model, or the author has exercised the option to retain some rights through an author's addendum, by self-publishing, or through other licensing arrangements such as a Creative Commons license.

    For works created during the course of employment, the Copyright Act specifies that, in the absence of an agreement to the contrary (i.e. unless specified in the employment contract), the employer owns copyright. At SFU, however, generally employees retain copyright ownership in their research and teaching materials (see here for details).

  • Yes. Copyright can expire (the “life plus 50” rule) and works will become part of the public domain. Material in public domain may be freely copied without permission or payment of royalties. There are also exceptions to the rights of copyright owners built into the Copyright Act, such as "fair dealing." The fair dealing exception attempts to balance the rights of the copyright owner with the needs of others, for example students and researchers, who require access to copyright protected material to pursue their studies and research activities.

  • Generally, the creator of a work owns copyright in that work unless it has been assigned to another entity, such as a publisher or other person. However, if the work was created in the course of employment, the employer may own the copyright.  

    SFU Policy R30.03 Intellectual Property Policy describes how the University manages the intellectual property rights of members of the university community who create works in a scholarly, professional or student capacity. Members include employees, students, post-doctoral fellows and research grant employees affiliated with the University and who use facilities, resources or funds administered by the University in the course of University-related research and other creative activities. 

    Simon Fraser University faculty and non-faculty staff own copyright in their own scholarly works, including research information and teaching materials. In some cases, an employee's contract may specify a different copyright ownership arrangement. Undergraduate students retain copyright in all works created during their course of study. Graduate students retain copyright in their own works (including theses) unless a research contract in support of the student’s work stipulates otherwise.

  • Under section 29.21 of Canada's Copyright Act, an individual may "use an existing work... or copy of one... in the creation of a new work or other subject-matter in which copyright subsists." This is colloquially known as the "mashup provision," as it was designed to allow things like recording a home video with music playing in the background, or creating a collage of photos or video clips, and uploading these resulting works online.

    There are a number of conditions to this provision. First, the resulting new work must be created "solely for non-commercial purposes." This means you can't use this provision to create advertising or sell something. You must also cite the source, if it is "reasonable" to include this in your resulting work. You must be reasonably sure that the work you are using was not an infringing (illegal) copy of the original work (e.g. a pirated song or film). Finally, your resulting work must not negatively affect the market (i.e. serve as a substitute) for the original work.

    For example, you might want to create a collage of photos and video clips of SFU events, with music in the background. This must not serve as an advertisement (whether for fundraising, to attract enrollment, or to sell anything relating to SFU or tickets to an event). You should attribute the creators of the photos, videos and music in your credits. Your photos, videos and music must come from legitimate sources. And your creation must be an original work, not a replacement for any of the original videos or music you have used.

    SFU Archives is a great source for photos, footage and other material to work from.

  • Fair dealing is a user’s right in copyright law permitting use of, 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 protected material for the purpose of research, private study, education, satire, parody, criticism, review or news reporting, provided that what you do with the work is ‘fair’. If your purpose is criticism, review or news reporting, you must also mention the source and author of the work for it to be fair dealing.

    SFU has a Fair Dealing Policy which lays out how much you can copy for purposes of education, research and private study.

    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 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?)
    • The amount of the dealing (How much was copied?)
    • Alternatives to the dealing (Was the work necessary for the end result? Could a different work have been used instead?)
    • 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 satisfy 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, education, satire, parody, criticism, review or news reporting, 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 reporting you must also mention the source and author of the work for it to be fair dealing. 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 Application of Fair Dealing under Policy R30.04. These limits are also outlined in the left column of the Copyright Infographic.

    Please note as well; it is 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 are not relying on U.S. information, which has no jurisdiction in Canada.

  • Copyright is recognized internationally thanks to international conventions. 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. For example, in the United States copyright protection generally lasts for 70 years after the creator's death, rather than 50 years as 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. Similarly, if you are publishing internationally and your work contains the work of others, you must make sure you abide by the laws in the country your work will be published in.

Compliance

  • Use of copyrighted materials is protected under the law in Canada and we are subject to the Canadian Copyright Act. Additionally, the University has implemented policies, standards and guidelines that, as members of the university community, we are required to follow.

    Simon Fraser University respects intellectual property and intellectual property laws, and will take appropriate steps to ensure consistent application of legal requirements throughout the University. It is the responsibility of each member of the university community to comply with copyright law and respect copyright ownership and licensing.  

    Please note that staff at the University Library, Archives, Bookstore, Centre for Online and Distance Education, Teaching and Learning Centre, Creative Services and Document Solutions have a professional responsibility to respect copyright law and may refuse to copy or print something if it is thought to be an infringement of copyright law.

  • A person who does something with a copyright protected work that only the copyright owner is entitled to do, and does so without the permission of the copyright owner, infringes copyright and can be held liable. Either civil or criminal penalties can be imposed for copyright infringement. Criminal penalties can include fines and/or imprisonment and depend on the seriousness of the infringement. While criminal penalties are usually reserved for those engaged in piracy for profit, civil penalties, including an order to pay damages or an injunction to cease infringing, can be imposed for other types of infringement. Monetary damages could be awarded to the copyright owner for loss of income occasioned by the infringement or for other losses. Statutory damages for all infringements for all works involved are limited to $5,000 if the infringements are for a non-commercial purpose. However, statutory damages increase to a maximum of $20,000 for all infringements of each work involved when the infringements are for a commercial purpose. 

    Generally, the person who actually infringes the rights of the copyright owner will be held liable for the infringement. In the absence of the fair dealing exception or a license, anyone who copies a copyright protected work (e.g. scans a book, photocopies an article) without permission will be held liable for that infringement, whether that person be a student, staff member or faculty member. Staff may copy materials at the request of others (e.g., a faculty member or a student). In that case, both the person who actually infringes copyright (the staff member) and the person who requested the staff member to so infringe (the faculty member or the student) can be held liable for the infringement. In addition, you may place liability on the University if as an employee you copy works in an infringing manner in the course of your employment. Before you engage in any copying or use of copyright protected materials, please consider the parties whom you might be impacting. Please follow all University policies to ensure proper use of equipment for copying works. 

    In addition to potential liability, staff at the University Libraries, Archives, Bookstore, Centre for Online and Distance Education, Teaching and Learning Centre, Creative Services and Document Solutions have a professional responsibility to respect copyright law and may refuse to copy or print something if it is thought to be an infringement of copyright law.

  • Simon Fraser University copyright policies align with the Government of Canada’s copyright legislation (Copyright Act) and outline the institution’s requirements of faculty, staff and students to comply with all legal requirements. 

    Simon Fraser University is committed to compliance in all copyright matters. It is the responsibility of each individual to comply with copyright laws and respect copyright ownership and licensing. The use of copyright protected materials without proper consent may be actionable under both the Copyright Act and the Criminal Code. In addition to any actions that might be taken by any copyright owner or its licensing agent, the University will take any breaches of its copyright policy very seriously. In the case of employees, disciplinary procedures may be applied. In the case of students, disciplinary action for academic and/or non-academic misconduct may be applied.

Copyright contacts

  • The Bookstore obtains copyright permissions for course packs; the Library obtains permissions for its electronic collection of non-journal materials (e-books, streaming video, music, etc.) as well as journals and article indexes and databases; and the Centre for Online and Distance Education (CODE) obtains permission for fully on-line and distance education courses offered through that program. For other uses, you may obtain permission yourself by simply emailing or writing a letter to the copyright owner.