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  • 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 Educational Excellence, 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.

  • 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.

  • 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. The application of these limits to teaching at SFU is 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.

  • 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.

  • The publisher Springer makes available for purchase to individual end-users for personal use only, a print on demand copy of Springer ebooks in a black-and-white softcover version under the MyCopy program.

    MyCopy purchases are for individual use only. SFU Library patrons may purchase a MyCopy version of a SpringerLink ebook at their own discretion.

    Please read the FAQs provided by Springer when you click on the "Buy a Print Copy of this Book for $24.95 Including Shipping" link above the ebook's Table of Contents.

    For further details, you can review the MyCopy webpage from Springer.

  • Peer-reviewed (or refereed) journals

    Peer-reviewed or refereed journals have an editorial board of subject experts who review and evaluate submitted articles before accepting them for publication. A journal may be a scholarly journal but not a peer-reviewed journal.

    Peer review (or referee) process

    • An editorial board asks subject experts to review and evaluate submitted articles before accepting them for publication in a scholarly journal.
    • Submissions are evaluated using criteria including the excellence, novelty and significance of the research or ideas.
    • Scholarly journals use this process to protect and maintain the quality of material they publish.
    • Members of the editorial board are listed near the beginning of each journal issue.

    How to tell if a journal is peer-reviewed

    • If you are searching for scholarly or peer-reviewed articles in a database, you may be able to limit your results to peer-reviewed articles. 
    • If you're looking at the journal itself, search for references to their peer-review process, such as in an editorial statement, or a section with instructions to authors. 
    • You can also search for your journal title in Ulrichsweb (a directory of periodicals worldwide, previously called Ulrichs], which includes basic information about each publication, including whether it is peer-reviewed/refereed.


    For an overview of the different types of journals, see What is a scholarly (or peer-reviewed) journal?

  • Also known as the checkout counter, the circulation desk is where you can borrow materials, pay fines, and pick up requests (or holds). You will need your library card to borrow materials.

    The circulation desk is located near the library entrance at all SFU Library locations

  • Reference books are frequently consulted and usually contain brief factual information, e.g. encyclopedias, dictionaries, and handbooks.

    The Reserves collection houses books and articles which are normally in the stacks but are currently being used in courses and therefore a high demand is anticipated by faculty. There is a limit of 6 Reserves items checked out at a time.

    See also: What are Reserves? and  What Are Reference Books?


  • The plagiarism tutorial is a Canvas module to help students learn to recognize plagiarism and develop skills to avoid it, such as correct citation of sources, note-taking, and paraphrasing.

    You can import the tutorial into your Canvas course, or link to the open version

    Le tutoriel est également disponible en français.

  • The Public Knowledge Project (PKP) is a multi-university initiative developing (free) open source software and conducting research to improve the quality and reach of scholarly publishing.

    Based at the SFU Library, PKP is best known for its Open Journal Systems (OJS) software, currently used to publish over 10,000 open access journals around the world.