Copyright resources and links for instructors

The information and links below provide additional resources for instructors using copyright-protected materials.

Copyright tools and forms

Copyright tips for moving your teaching online
Provides tips and information for instructors shifting in-person courses to online delivery during COVID-19.

Copyright Information Graphic
Explains how much can be copied for teaching purposes under SFU's Fair Dealing Policy and the Copyright Act's exceptions for educational institutions.

Copyright Information Graphic (text version)

Using copyright protected materials for teaching at SFU

SFU employees are responsible for abiding by Canada's Copyright Act and the University's copyright policies. These guidelines apply to teaching at SFU only. All works copied must be legally obtained. Works must be properly cited.

Licenses for online resources govern how they can be used. See Article Databases and A-Z Journals on the SFU Library website.

Using a short excerpt? Follow these fair dealing guidelines

Under fair dealing you may copy or distribute a short excerpt of a copyright protected work for the purposes of research, private study, education, parody, satire, criticism, review or news reporting, as a:

  • class handout,
  • email message,
  • posting in Canvas, or
  • part of a course pack sold through the SFU Bookstore.

Copying multiple short excerpts from the same copyright protected work, with the intention of reproducing amounts beyond the fair dealing limits, is prohibited.

Textual materials

You can copy up to 10% of the work OR

  • 1 chapter from a book (Note: you may not copy an entire poem or short story from a collection),
  • 1 article from a journal issue,
  • 1 article or page from a newspaper issue, or
  • 1 entry from a reference work (e.g. encyclopedia, dictionary).

Audio and video

You can copy up to 10% of the work OR 1 track from an album, as long as you are not breaking a technological protection measure (TPM). Examples of TPMs include passwords and regional encoding.


You can copy 1 image from a compilation (e.g. coffee table book, atlas) OR up to 10% of a stand-alone image (e.g. painting, poster, wall map). You cannot copy an entire stand-alone image.

Internet materials

You can copy a short excerpt up to the fair dealing limits according to the type of media.

Want to use more? Use one of these exceptions from the Copyright Act

Textual materials

You can reproduce the entire work for display in the classroom or for use in exams if a copy in the required format is not readily commercially available.

Audio and video

You can play the entire work (e.g. DVD, CD) in the classroom.


You can reproduce the entire image for display in the classroom or for use in exams if a copy in the required format is not readily commercially available.

Internet materials

You can reproduce an entire work from the Internet as long as you are not breaking a technological protection measure and there is no "clearly visible notice" prohibiting copying.

If you don't see your use on this chart contact the SFU Copyright Office for assistance ( and visit

Copyright Decision Tree
Provides steps to determine whether you can use a copyright protected work in the way you would like to, both for teaching and for other purposes. Use this in conjunction with the Copyright Information Graphic above and other information on this website.

Copyright Decision Tree (text version)

SFU employees have the responsibility to abide by Canada’s Copyright Act and by the University’s own copyright policies.

This decision tree will help you determine whether you can use a copyright protected work in the way you would like to.

Is the work protected by copyright? 

Material not protected by copyright includes material in the public domain and material lacking in creativity or originality such as data, facts or ideas. The FAQs at can help you.

  • Yes (go to next step)
  • No (use the work)

Are you the creator of the work? 

If so, do you own copyright in the work? Or have you retained the right to use it for this purpose, or to use a different version (e.g. a pre-print)?

  • Yes (use the work or the specific version allowed)
  • No (go to next step)

What do you want to do with the work? Is the work licensed for this type of use? 

(E.g. Library license, Open Access, Creative Commons)

  • Yes (use the work and comply with conditions of license)
  • No (go to next step)

Is there a licensing agreement or statement specifically disallowing this use of the work? 

(E.g. website terms of use, restrictions on Library license)

  • Yes (find a different source for the same work without the restriction OR go to "If you are unable to use this material")
  • No (go to next step)

Is the work protected by a technological protection measure (TPM)? 

(E.g. password or download-blocker)

  • Yes (find a different source for the same work without TPM (e.g. scan a print version instead of downloading a pdf) OR go to "If you are unable to use this material")
  • No (go to next step)

Does fair dealing or another Copyright Act exception apply? 

See the Instructors section at for what you can do with copyright protected works for teaching purposes, or contact the Copyright Office ( with any questions.

  • Yes (use the work and comply with conditions in the Act)
  • No (go to next step)

If you are unable to use this material

You could:

  • ask the copyright holder for permission to use the work in this way,
  • adapt the material, repurpose the data in your own way or paraphrase (with attribution in each case),
  • provide a link to the work instead,
  • remove the work, or
  • use a different work.

All works must be legally obtained. Works must be properly cited. 07/2019.

Copyright for SFU Students tutorial in Canvas
This tutorial introduces students to copyright and how it affects their course work. It describes options for including third-party material in assignments and presentations, including applying fair dealing and other Copyright Act provisions, requesting permission from copyright owners, and finding openly-licensed and copyright-free material. The tutorial also explains students' rights as owners of copyright in their papers and other works, and limits on what students can do with instructors' teaching materials. This tutorial is available for importing into any course from the Canvas Commons. In the Canvas Commons, search for the tutorial by title (Copyright for SFU Students) and follow the instructions here to import it.
Note: the tutorial was last updated in July 2018--please import it again to make sure you're using the latest version.

Canadian Public Domain Flowchart
A visual tool by the Copyright Office at the University of Alberta (2020, licensed CC BY) to help determine when the copyright term for a work expires, the work enters the public domain in Canada and it can be used freely (within Canada) without permission or payment of royalties.

Technological Protection Measures (TPM) Fact Sheet
Describes what technological protection measures are and their copyright implications.

Sample Syllabus Text
​For instructors wanting to inform students of their copyright rights and responsibilities, specifically relating to use and sharing of the instructor's teaching materials.

Fair Dealing Statement
When reproducing material for your classes under fair dealing, please include the following statement:
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.

Copyright and 3D Printing
Provides guidelines for creating your own 3D printing designs and objects, or using others' 3D files to print objects.

Departmental Re-use of Educational Resources
A Memorandum of Agreement to be used and modified by instructors and departments who want a more formal agreement covering the sharing and re-use of educational materials developed by an instructor.

Provenance Document for Tracking Changes to Educational Resources
If two or more colleagues wish to share teaching materials, it is important to keep track of contributions, changes, and permissions. Please use this provenance document as a place to record all of this information.

Mysterious and perplexing SFU Copyright Office posters
Information about this SFU Copyright Office campaign using magic show posters in the public domain, created by SFU Library Communications.

Copyright workshop videos and slides

The Copyright Office welcomes requests for presentations or workshops for your department or class year-round in any length and format, such as full-length workshops, shorter meeting presentations or more casual "lunch & learns."

Copyright Workshop Videos by the Copyright Office
These videos are based on our faculty workshops, and include Copyright Basics (an introduction to the basic elements of copyright law in Canada), and Teaching and Copyright (a two-part look at finding and sharing material in your courses).

Copyright in the Virtual Classroom by the Copyright Office
These slides (and version with detailed notes) were developed to support instructors teaching remotely during COVID-19.

Copyright in the Classroom workshop for instructors slides by the Copyright Office.

About Creative Commons Licenses by the Copyright Office.

SFU copyright management information

SFU Copyright Policies, including the Fair Dealing Policy
Informing you of the University's and your responsibilities regarding copyright and your work (as a student, instructor or staff member) at SFU.

Copyright Provision Recordkeeping Survey
Describes the purpose and process of this copyright statistics survey, which will be sent to a small random sample of instructors using Canvas each semester. The survey is anonymous, and an instructor won't be selected for the survey more than once per year.

SFU copyright resources

Copyright clearance service for material in Canvas (SFU Bookstore)
Need to digitize and post in your Canvas shell a textual work that is in excess of SFU's fair dealing guidelines? The SFU Bookstore, in conjunction with the SFU Copyright Office, is piloting a service to request copyright clearance and cover the associated fees on behalf of instructors, for a single document when they need to post material in Canvas that exceeds the University's fair dealing guidelines and is not covered by another exception in the Copyright Act. This is not intended to cover the majority of readings for a course, but to provide for one-off, occasional needs. This is a temporary measure until direct billing is possible through Canvas. Please send your requests to the Course Materials Coordinator at the SFU Bookstore,

Electronic Collection Information for Librarians and Faculty (SFU Library)
Describes the suitability of certain non-journal electronic resources for use on Library Reserves. The Library subscribes to, or owns outright, myriad non-journal electronic resources. Search for them by format using the "Find Databases by database title and description" search box at Journal Articles & Databases. These resources can be linked to in course listings, electronic reserves, course websites and the learning management system. Additionally, terms of use information for journals and article indexes and databases licensed by the SFU Library can be viewed via the Electronic Journals listing and the Journal Articles & Databases links. Descriptions specify the allowable terms of use to copy material for use in electronic reserves, course packs and interlibrary loan.

Making Readings Available to Students (SFU Library)
Describes several different ways to make required and supplementary readings available to students and suggests the benefits and cautions associated with each option.

External links

The SFU Copyright Office provides links to external sites for informational purposes only, and does not guarantee the validity of information found on these sites.

CAUT Guidelines for the Use of Copyrighted Material (Canadian Association of University Teachers)
Describes in plain language the ways in which instructors can make use of exceptions in the Copyright Act to copy materials for teaching.

Copyright Board of Canada
The Board administers, and has the right to supervise, agreements between users and licensing bodies, and issues licenses when a copyright owner cannot be located. Through the Board's website you can find a variety of resources for users of copyright protected material, including information on what to do if you cannot locate the copyright owner of a work.

Copyright Clearance Center
The Copyright Clearance Center is an organization authorized by many publishers to handle granting of permission for use of their published works. If you are interested in licensing a journal article or other published work for a use that is not covered by fair dealing or the educational institution exceptions, search for it through the Copyright Clearance Center's Get Permissions page.

Creative Commons
Creative Commons is a non-profit organization that promotes and enables the sharing of knowledge and creativity throughout the world. The organization produces and maintains a free suite of licensing tools to allow anyone to easily share, reuse and remix materials with a fair "some rights reserved" approach to copyright. To find Creative Commons licensed materials, check out their content directories, which list audio, video, image and textual materials, and their Search page.

Public domain materials
To find materials in the public domain (in which copyright has expired), simply search online for 'public domain' and the type of material you're interested in. Some useful sites include Project Gutenberg and Project Gutenberg Canada (the largest collections of copyright-free books online) and Wikipedia, which has an entire page dedicated to public domain resources. Vancouver Public Library has made many public domain historical photographs available through its photostream in the Commons on Flickr, and the City of Vancouver Archives has made public domain and City-owned digitized materials free for use on its website. A number of American cultural organizations have also made digitized public domain works available online, including the New York Public Library and the Metropolitan Museum of Art; please note that Canadian and U.S. copyright laws differ, and while works in the public domain in the United States will most likely also be in the public domain in Canada, you should always confirm this before using such works.

Open Access publications
Open Access publishers make their contents freely available online. Generally, these materials are also free from most copyright restrictions (usually by way of Creative Commons licensing), meaning they can be copied, built upon and redistributed. To find Open Access materials, see the Directory of Open Access Journals and the Directory of Open Access Books. Much work has been done in BC around open educational resources (OER). For more information about this, see the BCcampus OpenEd site, and their digital repository of open online learning resources, SOL*R. For more information about Open Access at SFU and publishing your work Open Access, see the Library's Scholarly Publishing site.