Copyright at SFU: Frequently asked questions

 We are currently updating our webpages to reflect upcoming changes to the term of copyright in Canada. For more information: Read about upcoming changes to the term of copyright protection in Canada.

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

Copyright basics

What is copyright?

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.

What are the laws and rules relating to copyright at Simon Fraser University?

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 the rights of copyright owners as well as 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. The Copyright Decision Tree and the Copyright and Teaching Infographic can help you determine how you can use copyright protected works. 

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. 

What materials are protected by copyright?

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 in most types of works, when used in Canada, lasts for the life of the creator plus 70 years.* After that time, copyright expires and the work enters the public domain; works no longer under copyright can be freely used in any way by anyone, without permission.

*Due to a change in copyright term introduced in 2022, all works whose creators died in 1971 or earlier are no longer protected by copyright.

How do I know if something is protected by copyright?

Copyright protection arises automatically when a work is created and generally subsists until 70 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 70 years. 

The Canadian Public Domain Flowchart can help you determine whether a work's copyright has expired.

What materials are NOT protected by copyright?

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 expired 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.

Who owns copyright in a work?

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 (at SFU, however, generally employees retain ownership of copyright in their research and teaching materials - see here for details). Similarly, if a work has been commissioned the copyright will belong to the person or entity that commissioned the work (depending on the terms of the contract). Finally, ownership of copyright can be transferred to another entity, such as a publisher in the case of an article or book.

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.

What rights does a copyright owner have?

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.

How long does copyright last?

Copyright does not last forever. In Canada, copyright generally lasts for the life of the author, plus 70 years (i.e., the "life plus 70" rule). This varies by country, and it can also 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, 2105. 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 70 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.

If a work does not have a copyright notice (or © symbol), is it protected by copyright?

Most likely. Copyright protection exists as soon as a work is created. 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 not necessary but it is possible for the work to be registered under a voluntary government registration system, such as with the Canadian Intellectual Property Office (CIPO). Copyright does expire, however, after which the work is no longer protected regardless of any copyright notice or symbol.

Other countries have different laws and regulations which govern copyright protection, but due to international treaties most countries offer similar protection. Works created in most other countries are protected in Canada under Canadian copyright law.

What is the “public domain” and can I copy works from the public domain freely?

Copyright does not last forever - it does expire. 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 permission or payment. In Canada, copyright protection generally lasts for the life of the creator plus 70 years past their death (though some specific types of works such as sound recordings may have different terms).

However, content in which copyright has expired may be republished or re-released with additional material. For example, although Shakespeare's plays are not protected by copyright, many of the published editions of his plays contain added original materials (such as footnotes, prefaces etc.). There is a separate copyright in the added original material, based on the life of its creator, but the underlying text of the original work is still in the public domain.

Works can also be in the public domain because 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. 

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 other Copyright Act exceptions 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.

For more information about duration of copyright protection in Canada see the Government of Canada’s About Copyright page and the Canadian Public Domain Flowchart by the Copyright Office at the University of Alberta (2020), licensed CC BY.

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

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).

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

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. 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 or caption of a photograph or at the bottom of a webpage. For published works, such as books and journal articles, the publisher or journal is usually the best place to start - they likely own copyright, or they can direct you to the correct contact.

If the copyright owner is easily identifiable and locatable, simply email or write to them, explaining how and why you want to use the work and requesting permission. The permission should be in writing so that there is evidence of 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.

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. 

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

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

Copyright for instructors

Is there a limit to how much I can copy?

Yes. If you are copying material for use in teaching 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 and summarized in the Copyright and Teaching infographic. Generally, you can copy up to 10% of a work or one chapter of a book; see the Copyright and Teaching infographic for details.

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. Copying under fair dealing cannot exceed the limits in the Copyright and Teaching infographic per course and per semester, i.e., copying chapter after chapter from one book throughout the semester will not qualify.

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. Contact the Copyright Officer (copy@sfu.ca) with a specific question or for help obtaining permission.

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

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

Does citing a work make it okay to copy it?

No. Citing the source of a work you use is good academic practice and helps you avoid plagiarism, but citation alone does not mean you are permitted to copy the work.

In order to legally copy a copyright-protected work for use in teaching materials, assignments, or theses/dissertations, your use must be permitted by one of the following:

  • explicit permission from the copyright owner;
  • use of an "insubstantial" amount, e.g., a typical short quote of a few sentences;
  • a users' rights exception in the Copyright Act, such as fair dealing;
  • the terms of a license, like those the SFU Library has for ejournals and ebooks [note: these licenses typically don't permit use in a thesis/dissertation]; or
  • the terms of an open license, such as a Creative Commons license, applied to the work by its copyright owner.
What is fair dealing and how does it relate to copyright?

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 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 top section 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.

Am I allowed to copy fair dealing amounts from more than one edition of the same textbook?

No. Although each textbook edition is its own copyright protected work, the differences between the editions are often marginal and do not justify copying allowable amounts from multiple editions of the same textbook.

For example: You cannot copy chapter 3 from the 2nd edition and chapter 4 from the 3rd edition, and make those available to your students.

Are there special rules for scanning copyright protected material?

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.

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

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 search their Openverse. Content in the Wikimedia Commons is almost entirely Creative Commons-licensed. Google Images has a filter (under "Tools" > "Usage Rights") to select Creative Commons-licensed results only (note: you should always check the content's original site to confirm its license), and content sites like Flickr and YouTube also have such filters.

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.

SFU Library also subscribes to a number of image databases. These contents can typically be used for teaching and learning purposes.

What are Creative Commons licenses?

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.”

 

Can I photocopy a recent journal article and hand it out to my students?

Yes. The Application of Fair Dealing under Policy R30.04 permits the copying of an entire journal article. Copies may be handed out to the students enrolled in your course or you may post a copy of the article to Canvas. See the Copyright Infographic for further details on how you can share copyright protected materials for teaching.

What if a book I want to copy is out of print?

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 and Teaching 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. The Copyright Clearance Fund may be able to support payment of copyright license fees for this copying - details about the Fund and eligibility are on this page.

Are government documents protected by copyright?

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 70 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 the federal Crown Copyright Request page.

For further information about the use of BC government documents that are under Crown copyright see the provincial Copyright page.

How does copyright apply to data?

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. If you are depositing to a research data repository, such as FRDR, you should ensure you have the right, or permission, from any copyright owners, to deposit copyright-protected material (more information about copyright considerations for data deposits 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

 

What non-journal electronic resources does the university have and how do I access them?

The Library subscribes to or owns outright numerous non-journal electronic resources. Search for them by format using the "Find Databases by database title and description" search box at Article Databases. These resources can be linked to in course listings, electronic reserves, course websites and the learning management system (Canvas). See the Electronic Collection Information for Librarians and Faculty (SFU Library) for the suitability of certain resources for use on Library Reserves. 

Additionally, terms of use information for journals and article indexes and databases licensed by the SFU Library can be viewed via the A-Z Journals Listing in the Library Catalogue. Journal descriptions specify the publishers' terms of use with regard to copying material for use in electronic reserves, course packs and interlibrary loan.

Why am I not able to download or print this entire ebook?

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.

Ebook Central

  • The copy and print limits on most Proquest Ebook Central 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.

Related:

What do my students need to know about copyright?

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 the Copyright 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 pages and via email (copy@sfu.ca). We also provide a sample copyright statement for instructors to use in course syllabi.

Are students allowed to film my lectures?

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 Accessible Learning (CAL) 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 Accessible Learning (formerly: 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.

Can I record my lecture for students if it contains copyright protected content (including images/audiovisual material)?

Just as it is legal to show slides containing images in class, it is generally legal to show them in a lecture recorded for students, as long as the video is shared only with students in the class through a password-protected course website such as Canvas.

As with slides shown in person, you should incorporate material within the fair dealing and related guidelines or license agreements for the content (such as those for content held by SFU Library). Using openly-licensed images, such as those with Creative Commons licenses, makes this easy by providing broad permission for use.

Use of brief clips of films or audio recordings (i.e., up to 10% of the work) may be permitted under fair dealing but you should not record an entire show, film, or audio recording within a lecture recording.

The Library has streaming audiovisual collections that you can link to for students to access themselves, and if we don't have the material you need we can convert a DVD to a streaming file and make it available to the students in your class. This is done under the distance and online education exception (s. 30.01) and in accordance with the technological protection measures section (s. 41.1) of the Copyright Act.

Can I include copies of another person’s images and materials in my PowerPoint presentations?

Under fair dealing you may generally copy up to 10% of another person’s work, including images, for inclusion 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 work in the classroom, including a 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). You may also copy an entire work found online as long as there is no technological protection measure and no "clearly visible notice" prohibiting the use.

See the Copyright and Teaching Infographic for full details.

What if I hand out copies of my PowerPoint slides and there are copyright protected images/material on the slides?

SFU 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 guidelines outlined on the Copyright and Teaching Infographic 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 the fair dealing policy or other exceptions, 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 fair dealing or another 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.

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

It depends on what you want to do. Materials on the Internet are treated the same under copyright law as any other copyright 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 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.

Is everything on the Internet in the public domain, and therefore fair game?

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, as outlined in the Copyright and Teaching Infographic, 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.
Do I need to ask permission to link to a website?

Content found online 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. 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 website may contain content posted without the permission of the copyright owner, you should avoid linking to it.

If you want to copy content from a website, rather than link to it, you must comply with statements prohibiting copying of material on the site or indicating that permission is required to copy the content. Such statements are typically found in sections titled ‘Terms of Use’ or ‘Legal Notices,’ and are often linked from the very bottom (footer) of the page.

Can I show a YouTube video in class?

If a video is freely available on the open Internet (e.g., on YouTube), then displaying such a video in an educational class or workshop is acceptable, provided that it is played live from the Internet rather than copied or downloaded. Similarly, displaying a live website (i.e., in the browser) 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. To determine that the material was posted legally, with the permission of the copyright owner, check on the creator's or owner's own website or channel, or check for ads before or during the video (ads often indicate that the copyright owner has given permission after the fact, even if the video was posted by someone else).

Can I embed YouTube videos in my course website?

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.

Can I post copies of copyright protected works to SFU’s learning management system or email them to students?

Yes, you can do both if you adhere to the amount that may be copied under fair dealing or another exception in the Copyright Act. Refer to the Copyright and Teaching Infographic for details and limits.

Include a clearly visible notice on all materials you post or email, 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.

May I upload a PDF of a journal article I obtained through the library’s e-journals to Canvas for my students to read?

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.

That said, the licenses for some e-journals provided by the Library allow instructors to upload articles into secure learning management systems (LMS) such as Canvas. In the library catalogue, look in the "Access It" section and click "Show license" to see the details about what is permitted for that specific resource.

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. 

No matching FAQs found.
Can I post my slides in Canvas if they contain figures, diagrams and other images from a book?

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.

Additionally, slides provided by textbook publishers can almost always be posted, according to their Terms of Use.

Is there any difference between posting something on my own website and posting it in Canvas?

Yes. Canvas, like many learning management systems (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), detailed in the Copyright and Teaching Infographic, 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 an LMS 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 Library's subscriptions to ejournals and ebooks specifically permit articles and other materials to be posted only in restricted course management systems.

Can I embed YouTube videos in my course website?

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.

May I post examples of my students’ work to my SFU learning management system course or on my personal website?

Under SFU Policy R30.03 Intellectual Property Policy, students own the copyright in the works they create, so you may only copy and distribute such works with their permission. The University does have the right to make copies of student works for academic purposes, but this right does not extend to making them available online. Accordingly, you should ask students in advance whether they give permission for their work to be posted online and keep written records of the permissions given. However, you may be able to use the work in certain ways under fair dealing or another exception in the Copyright Act - see the Copyright and Teaching Infographic for details and limits.

How does the Canvas copyright survey work?

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. To upload copyright protected material to 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.

The Copyright Office is required by Appendix R30.04D Application of Appendix R30.04A (Fair Dealing Policy) to Learning Management Systems to collect statistics on faculty and staff use of copyright protected material in Canvas. The policy 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."

A small sample 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., readings such as articles and book chapters, 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. Both surveys are anonymous - we will not be contacting or "investigating" anyone based on their responses. 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 Copyright and Teaching 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.

Can I put a textbook for my course on Library Reserves?

Yes, original works can be placed on reserve without concern for copyright clearance. The Library currently reviews course textbook lists and places items held in the collection on reserve to ensure the best access for students. See Reserves Services for Faculty

You may add a paper copy of a work to the library reserve system according to the Application of Fair Dealing under Policy R30.04, another exception under the Copyright Act or a Library license, up to a maximum of 3 copies for every 30 students.

No matching FAQs found.
Are there any restrictions on posting an instructor’s notes on Library Reserves?

Instructors may have their notes posted on Library Reserves. In addition they may provide notes that include copyright protected material as long as they have the right under fair dealing or another exception to include the material. Send the material to be posted to lib-reservesurl@sfu.ca for courses at SFU Burnaby and SFU Vancouver and to fraser_library@sfu.ca for courses at SFU Surrey.

What materials can be scanned and placed on Library Reserve?

Articles, single book chapters, lecture notes, and any other material that qualifies for copying under the SFU Fair Dealing policy (Application of Fair Dealing under Policy R30.04). Please see the Copyright Infographic for the copying limits.

Access to the scanned documents is restricted to those students who are enrolled in the course for which they are on Reserve. Links to reserve material have also been added to SFU Connect and Canvas to allow better access for students.

Can the library send me electronic copies of articles using the interlibrary loan service?

Yes. Almost all articles requested via interlibrary loan are delivered to the requestor using a secure post-to-web service that complies with Canada’s Copyright Act.

Can I just link to the electronic journal article myself on SFU's learning management system and skip using Library Reserves?

Yes, you can create a direct link yourself. 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.

What are licenses for electronic resources?

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 A-Z Journals Listing in the Library Catalogue. 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.

Where can I find more information about the Library Reserves service and how to use it?
What is a course pack? Can I use a course pack in my course?

A course pack is a compilation of works (typically readings) from more than one source. Paper course packs are no longer available, but the Bookstore can produce a digital course pack. Please contact the Custom Course Materials Coordinator for more information on how to create a course pack as well as important deadlines.

Why is there sometimes a fee for copyright protected material in a course pack?

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.

If I only have a couple of readings, are there other options?

If the readings you need fall within the fair dealing and related guidelines (detailed on the Copyright and Teaching infographic), you can copy them yourself and post them in Canvas, or place them on reserve through the Library. If you only need one or two readings that exceed fair dealing but are not enough to put together a course pack, you may be eligible for the Copyright Clearance Fund which will pay for any copyright clearance fees for the readings. See details on the Copyright Clearance Fund page to determine if this service fits your needs.

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 I am the author or creator of a work, can I copy the work for my students?

As the author or creator of the work, you likely own copyright in it unless you have assigned (i.e., transferred) ownership of copyright to someone else such as a publisher.

If you own copyright in the work you can use it in any way you like, such as posting it in your Canvas course, including it in a course pack, or handing out copies in class.

If you transferred copyright to a publisher or another party, you can copy the work within the limits on the Copyright and Teaching infographic or contact the copyright owner to request permission to use it.

If I have permission to post something to Canvas does this mean I can also include it in my course pack?

If you posted the content in Canvas under fair dealing or another exception in the Copyright Act (i.e., within the guidelines detailed on the Copyright and Teaching Infographic), it can be included in a course pack without further permission.

If, however, the content was posted in Canvas under the license terms on a journal subscription or other content through SFU Library, you should check the license terms in the Library catalogue to see whether inclusion in a course pack is also permitted. Some copyright holders will grant permission to put material on password-protected websites such as Canvas or another learning management system, but not to copy the material in a course pack. The SFU Bookstore can confirm whether separate permission is required for use in a course pack.

No matching FAQs found.
No matching FAQs found.
Can I play films and videos in class?

You may play videos in class in the following circumstances:

  • You may show a film or other cinematographic work in the classroom as long as the work is not an infringing copy, the film or work was legally obtained, and you do not circumvent a 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.
Can I play music in class?

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

  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.

Can I show a YouTube video in class?

If a video is freely available on the open Internet (e.g., on YouTube), then displaying such a video in an educational class or workshop is acceptable, provided that it is played live from the Internet rather than copied or downloaded. Similarly, displaying a live website (i.e., in the browser) 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. To determine that the material was posted legally, with the permission of the copyright owner, check on the creator's or owner's own website or channel, or check for ads before or during the video (ads often indicate that the copyright owner has given permission after the fact, even if the video was posted by someone else).

Can I bring a movie from home or from the Library and show it in class?

Yes, as long as it is a legal, commercial copy played for the purpose of education, the audience is primarily students, and no profit is gained. There is no longer the need to ensure a public performance license is in place.

Can I embed YouTube videos in my course website?

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

What is copyright?

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.

Is there a limit to how much I can copy?

Yes. If you are copying material for use in teaching 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 and summarized in the Copyright and Teaching infographic. Generally, you can copy up to 10% of a work or one chapter of a book; see the Copyright and Teaching infographic for details.

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. Copying under fair dealing cannot exceed the limits in the Copyright and Teaching infographic per course and per semester, i.e., copying chapter after chapter from one book throughout the semester will not qualify.

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. Contact the Copyright Officer (copy@sfu.ca) with a specific question or for help obtaining permission.

What is "non-commercial user-generated content," and what can I do under this Copyright Act provision?

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.

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

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 search their Openverse. Content in the Wikimedia Commons is almost entirely Creative Commons-licensed. Google Images has a filter (under "Tools" > "Usage Rights") to select Creative Commons-licensed results only (note: you should always check the content's original site to confirm its license), and content sites like Flickr and YouTube also have such filters.

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.

SFU Library also subscribes to a number of image databases. These contents can typically be used for teaching and learning purposes.

What are Creative Commons licenses?

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.”

 

What do I need to know about copyright when licensing media (e.g. photos, video, music) from an external source?

If your department needs photographs, video footage or music for promotional uses, check SFU's Image Library. This eliminates copyright concerns because the copyright in these images 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. 

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; this license should give SFU the right to use that material in any way and for all time. The SFU Copyright Office can provide a template license or help you craft one.

Keep all signed agreements on file in your office.

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

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. 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 or caption of a photograph or at the bottom of a webpage. For published works, such as books and journal articles, the publisher or journal is usually the best place to start - they likely own copyright, or they can direct you to the correct contact.

If the copyright owner is easily identifiable and locatable, simply email or write to them, explaining how and why you want to use the work and requesting permission. The permission should be in writing so that there is evidence of 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.

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. 

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

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

Who owns copyright in the works I create at Simon Fraser University?

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 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.

Copyright for students

Coursework

As a student of Simon Fraser University, what can I legally copy?

Under copyright law, fair dealing allows you to make a copy of part of a work for the purposes of education, private study, research, parody, satire, review, criticism or news reporting. Please see the Copyright and Teaching infographic for guidelines as to how much of a work you can copy for purposes of your course assignments at SFU under fair dealing and other exceptions in the Copyright Act. You may also find the Copyright Decision Tree helpful for determining whether you can copy material in a certain situation, and what limits or restrictions may be involved.

Also, you may copy materials for which the university (e.g. the Library) has negotiated licenses according to the terms of the agreement. Details about the licenses for electronic resources such as ebooks and ejournals are available through an item's description in the Library catalogue.

Is there a limit to how much I can copy?

Yes. If you are copying material for use in teaching 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 and summarized in the Copyright and Teaching infographic. Generally, you can copy up to 10% of a work or one chapter of a book; see the Copyright and Teaching infographic for details.

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. Copying under fair dealing cannot exceed the limits in the Copyright and Teaching infographic per course and per semester, i.e., copying chapter after chapter from one book throughout the semester will not qualify.

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. Contact the Copyright Officer (copy@sfu.ca) with a specific question or for help obtaining permission.

I want to use another person's images and materials in my assignment or class presentation. What am I able to do under copyright?

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 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.

Does citing a work make it okay to copy it?

No. Citing the source of a work you use is good academic practice and helps you avoid plagiarism, but citation alone does not mean you are permitted to copy the work.

In order to legally copy a copyright-protected work for use in teaching materials, assignments, or theses/dissertations, your use must be permitted by one of the following:

  • explicit permission from the copyright owner;
  • use of an "insubstantial" amount, e.g., a typical short quote of a few sentences;
  • a users' rights exception in the Copyright Act, such as fair dealing;
  • the terms of a license, like those the SFU Library has for ejournals and ebooks [note: these licenses typically don't permit use in a thesis/dissertation]; or
  • the terms of an open license, such as a Creative Commons license, applied to the work by its copyright owner.
What are Creative Commons licenses?

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.”

 

How does copyright apply to data?

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. If you are depositing to a research data repository, such as FRDR, you should ensure you have the right, or permission, from any copyright owners, to deposit copyright-protected material (more information about copyright considerations for data deposits 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

 

Is there a certain way I have to cite a copyright protected work that I reproduce in an assignment or thesis?

Not usually. Generally, you should follow the style guide recommended by your instructor or used in your discipline to identify all material you did not create, in any medium. Your readers will assume that you have adhered to any applicable copyright laws and policies.

However, there are circumstances in which you may be requested or required to include certain information in a citation. Creative Commons licenses require that you indicate which license applies, and link to the license details if possible. An individual license or permission from a creator or publisher may also require that you include certain information. In these cases you should fit this information into your discipline's style guide if possible. You can ask a librarian for assistance with citations.

What are the rules about making handouts for other students in my class?

You have the right to make copies of your own work to distribute or share in any way you like. If you want to make a handout for the rest of your class that includes material that you did not create (or in which you no longer own the copyright, such as a published article), you may be able to include excerpts of the work under fair dealing or another Copyright Act exception - see the Copyright and Teaching infographic for details. If your use does not fall within the guidelines on the infographic, you may need the creator's or copyright owner's permission to include their work.

What if I hand out copies of my PowerPoint slides and there are copyright protected images/material on the slides?

SFU 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 guidelines outlined on the Copyright and Teaching Infographic 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 the fair dealing policy or other exceptions, 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 fair dealing or another 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.

Why am I not able to download or print this entire ebook?

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.

Ebook Central

  • The copy and print limits on most Proquest Ebook Central 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.

Related:

Can I record my instructor's lecture to watch later?

Instructors are the authors and copyright owners of their course materials (this includes things like lecture notes, PowerPoint presentations and exams). The written version of a lecture as well as the verbal delivery (i.e. performance) of that lecture are both protected by copyright. Since a copyright owner has the right to control what can be done with their works, you may not record an entire lecture (or copy entire lecture notes or exams) without the prior permission of your instructor.

There are, however, certain users' rights included in the Copyright Act which allow the copying of a copyright protected work, in specific situations. Under fair dealing, you may copy a short excerpt of a copyright protected work for purposes including private study, education and research.

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

Please note that if you require your course materials in a different format due to a disability you can contact the Centre for Accessible Learning (CAL) (formerly: the Centre for Students with Disabilities) for assistance with such accommodation.

As a student, are works I create (such as assignments and research) protected by copyright?

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

Can I include in my thesis works I have already published?

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. The Canadian Association of Research Libraries (CARL) provides an author addendum and information about negotiating your publishing agreement here.

Does citing a work make it okay to copy it?

No. Citing the source of a work you use is good academic practice and helps you avoid plagiarism, but citation alone does not mean you are permitted to copy the work.

In order to legally copy a copyright-protected work for use in teaching materials, assignments, or theses/dissertations, your use must be permitted by one of the following:

  • explicit permission from the copyright owner;
  • use of an "insubstantial" amount, e.g., a typical short quote of a few sentences;
  • a users' rights exception in the Copyright Act, such as fair dealing;
  • the terms of a license, like those the SFU Library has for ejournals and ebooks [note: these licenses typically don't permit use in a thesis/dissertation]; or
  • the terms of an open license, such as a Creative Commons license, applied to the work by its copyright owner.
Do I need to obtain permission to include a chart, diagram, map or other image in my thesis?

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 some 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.

How does copyright apply to data?

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. If you are depositing to a research data repository, such as FRDR, you should ensure you have the right, or permission, from any copyright owners, to deposit copyright-protected material (more information about copyright considerations for data deposits 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

 

Is there a certain way I have to cite a copyright protected work that I reproduce in an assignment or thesis?

Not usually. Generally, you should follow the style guide recommended by your instructor or used in your discipline to identify all material you did not create, in any medium. Your readers will assume that you have adhered to any applicable copyright laws and policies.

However, there are circumstances in which you may be requested or required to include certain information in a citation. Creative Commons licenses require that you indicate which license applies, and link to the license details if possible. An individual license or permission from a creator or publisher may also require that you include certain information. In these cases you should fit this information into your discipline's style guide if possible. You can ask a librarian for assistance with citations.

What is the “public domain” and can I copy works from the public domain freely?

Copyright does not last forever - it does expire. 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 permission or payment. In Canada, copyright protection generally lasts for the life of the creator plus 70 years past their death (though some specific types of works such as sound recordings may have different terms).

However, content in which copyright has expired may be republished or re-released with additional material. For example, although Shakespeare's plays are not protected by copyright, many of the published editions of his plays contain added original materials (such as footnotes, prefaces etc.). There is a separate copyright in the added original material, based on the life of its creator, but the underlying text of the original work is still in the public domain.

Works can also be in the public domain because 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. 

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 other Copyright Act exceptions 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.

For more information about duration of copyright protection in Canada see the Government of Canada’s About Copyright page and the Canadian Public Domain Flowchart by the Copyright Office at the University of Alberta (2020), licensed CC BY.

Are government documents protected by copyright?

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 70 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 the federal Crown Copyright Request page.

For further information about the use of BC government documents that are under Crown copyright see the provincial Copyright page.

What are Creative Commons licenses?

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.”

 

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

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. 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 or caption of a photograph or at the bottom of a webpage. For published works, such as books and journal articles, the publisher or journal is usually the best place to start - they likely own copyright, or they can direct you to the correct contact.

If the copyright owner is easily identifiable and locatable, simply email or write to them, explaining how and why you want to use the work and requesting permission. The permission should be in writing so that there is evidence of 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.

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. 

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

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

Do I own copyright in my thesis?

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.

Should I be worried about misuse of my thesis/dissertation once it's openly available in Summit?

You likely don't need to worry. In fact, your thesis or dissertation (and other scholarship) being openly available can increase readership and citation rates, among other benefits.

Here are some concerns you may have heard, and some evidence for why they are mostly unfounded.

Plagiarism: What if someone takes credit for my work?

The fact that your publicly-available thesis or dissertation might be copied also means that it is easy to find in order to compare texts and check for plagiarism. A work being openly available as soon as possible - and clearly dated and time-stamped - deters plagiarism by providing proof of the earlier appearance of one work compared to another similar work (see Suber 2012; Cirasella and Thistlethwaite 2017).

Predatory publishers: What if someone publishes my thesis in a questionable journal?

We have not encountered any data or anecdotal evidence to justify a concern about predatory publishers taking publicly-available theses or dissertations and publishing them without the author's consent. SFU grad students own copyright in their theses and dissertations; it would be an illegal act of copyright infringement for a publisher to publish one without the author's permission. If you have been contacted by a publisher about publishing your thesis or dissertation, the Library provides information and tools for assessing a publisher or journal.

Ability to publish: Will a publisher reject my manuscript because my dissertation is already available?

A number of surveys of publishers with offices in North America and the UK have found that only a small percentage of publishers across disciplines would outright reject a manuscript based on a thesis or dissertation (see Gilliam and Daoutis 2019; Ramirez et al 2013; Ramirez et al 2014). In most cases an article, chapter or book will be significantly reworked from the earlier version: Harvard University Press has said that "we expect that the final product will be so broadened, deepened, reconsidered, and restructured that the availability of the dissertation is irrelevant."

Still have concerns? Talk to your supervisor or contact the Digital Scholarship Librarians at digital-scholarship@sfu.ca.

 

Copyright for authors and other creators

What is intellectual property?

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)
Do I have to do anything to be protected by copyright?

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.

No matching FAQs found.
What rights does a copyright owner have?

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.

What are my economic rights?

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.

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

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).

What are Creative Commons licenses?

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.”

 

What rights do I have to distribute or allow copies of works that I myself have created?

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.

If you created the work as part of your employment (at SFU or another employer), your employer may own the rights. See Who owns copyright in the works I create at Simon Fraser University? for more information.

No matching FAQs found.
Are there any limits on the rights of copyright owners?

Yes. Copyright does expire and then works will become part of the public domain. Material in the 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 permits users, including students and researchers, to use copyright protected material in certain ways to pursue their studies and research activities.

Who owns copyright in the works I create at Simon Fraser University?

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 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.

What is "non-commercial user-generated content," and what can I do under this Copyright Act provision?

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.

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

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 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 top section 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.

How does copyright apply to data?

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. If you are depositing to a research data repository, such as FRDR, you should ensure you have the right, or permission, from any copyright owners, to deposit copyright-protected material (more information about copyright considerations for data deposits 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

 

How does copyright work internationally?

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, the term (length) of copyright protection varies in different countries. 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.

Should I be worried about misuse of my thesis/dissertation once it's openly available in Summit?

You likely don't need to worry. In fact, your thesis or dissertation (and other scholarship) being openly available can increase readership and citation rates, among other benefits.

Here are some concerns you may have heard, and some evidence for why they are mostly unfounded.

Plagiarism: What if someone takes credit for my work?

The fact that your publicly-available thesis or dissertation might be copied also means that it is easy to find in order to compare texts and check for plagiarism. A work being openly available as soon as possible - and clearly dated and time-stamped - deters plagiarism by providing proof of the earlier appearance of one work compared to another similar work (see Suber 2012; Cirasella and Thistlethwaite 2017).

Predatory publishers: What if someone publishes my thesis in a questionable journal?

We have not encountered any data or anecdotal evidence to justify a concern about predatory publishers taking publicly-available theses or dissertations and publishing them without the author's consent. SFU grad students own copyright in their theses and dissertations; it would be an illegal act of copyright infringement for a publisher to publish one without the author's permission. If you have been contacted by a publisher about publishing your thesis or dissertation, the Library provides information and tools for assessing a publisher or journal.

Ability to publish: Will a publisher reject my manuscript because my dissertation is already available?

A number of surveys of publishers with offices in North America and the UK have found that only a small percentage of publishers across disciplines would outright reject a manuscript based on a thesis or dissertation (see Gilliam and Daoutis 2019; Ramirez et al 2013; Ramirez et al 2014). In most cases an article, chapter or book will be significantly reworked from the earlier version: Harvard University Press has said that "we expect that the final product will be so broadened, deepened, reconsidered, and restructured that the availability of the dissertation is irrelevant."

Still have concerns? Talk to your supervisor or contact the Digital Scholarship Librarians at digital-scholarship@sfu.ca.

 

Compliance

Why should I care about copyright?

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 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.

Who in the University is responsible for ensuring that faculty, staff and students comply with the University’s copyright policy?

Everyone. Faculty, staff and students should always seek to comply with the Copyright Act as a best practice of academic professionalism. You are only permitted to make lawful copies of works, and use works in lawful ways. Failure to comply with the Copyright Act could lead to personal liability, as well as liability for the University. Ensure that you use copyright protected materials appropriately. Advise students and colleagues to use copyright protected materials appropriately. Contact the Copyright Officer if you have questions.

What is copyright infringement?

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 caused 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, or $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, a student, staff member or faculty member who copies a copyright protected work (e.g., scans a book, photocopies an article) without permission will be held liable for that infringement. Staff sometimes 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. Employees are responsible for following all University policies.

In addition to potential liability, staff at the University Libraries, Archives, Bookstore, Centre for Educational Excellence, Communications and Marketing 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.

What will happen if I don’t comply with the university’s copyright policies and licensing agreements?

Simon Fraser University's 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

No matching FAQs found.
How can I get more information about copyright?

See the pages for Instructors, Staff, Students or Authors and other creators on the Copyright website for FAQs, links and resources.

Is anyone available to help instructors obtain copyright permission?

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.

Who can I contact at SFU for help with locating and contacting copyright holders?

For help with locating and contacting authors, publishers or other copyright holders for materials you wish to include in your thesis or other work, contact the liaison librarian for your department. A template letter prepared by the Copyright Officer is available for you to modify and use when requesting permissions for works included in your thesis.

Who can I contact at SFU for help with finding audio and video media for teaching?

Looking for a specific film or other media to use in your classroom?

Instructors can contact the Library's Media Booking Service at media@sfu.ca.

Who can I contact at SFU for help with creating a course pack?

For help creating a custom paper course pack for your course, including selecting materials (both copyright protected and otherwise), contact the SFU Bookstore.

Who can I contact at SFU for more information about authors' rights when publishing?

For more information about authors' rights, copyright transfer agreements and negotiating with publishers, see the Scholarly Publishing & Open Access pages. Contact the Copyright Office with questions.