The Copyright Provision Recordkeeping Survey

This page describes the SFU Copyright Provision Recordkeeping Survey, which consists of two surveys (Survey A and Survey B), each of which is sent to a small random sample of instructors using Canvas each fall and spring semester.


In order to comply with Copyright Policy Appendix R30.04D (Application of Appendix R30.04A [the Fair Dealing Policy] to Learning Management Systems), each fall and spring semester a random sample of instructors using Canvas will be asked to complete one of two anonymous surveys (Survey A and Survey B) which will record the various copyright provisions under which they have posted copyright protected third-party material in Canvas. Third-party materials are any materials in which the user (i.e. instructor) does not own copyright. This usually means they were not created by the instructor, but could also mean the instructor created them but transferred copyright to someone else, such as a publisher. Third-party materials might include images added to your PowerPoint slides, diagrams or images pasted into assignments, or a journal article, map or film clip uploaded individually. Uploading copyright protected material to Canvas is copying the work and therefore instructors posting such material must either have the permission of the copyright holder or be using an eligible exception in the Copyright Act, such as fair dealing.

Copyright Policy Appendix R30.04D (s 6.1 (vi)) 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 such work or excerpt (e.g. permission obtained from the copyright holder, public domain, fair dealing, other exemption under the Copyright Act). For certain content posted to the LMS (e.g. classroom presentations containing excerpts from a number of works) multiple reasons could apply."

The only information that will be provided to the Copyright Office about respondents is their department name, the semester and their survey responses. Additionally, for Survey B the Copyright Office will be provided with citations for a small number of files the respondents have uploaded to Canvas.

See the Copyright for Instructors at SFU section of the copyright website for more information about how you can copy and use copyright protected materials in your teaching. Please direct any questions about the survey to the Copyright Office at


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

Survey A

A small percentage of instructors using Canvas will be randomly selected each semester, and those instructors will be asked to complete an anonymous web survey (Survey A) based on their practices when selecting and uploading materials to Canvas for their students (see Figure 1 below). (Please note that if you use an alternate learning management system or password-protected website, limited only to students in a specific course, to distribute course materials, you should respond to the questions as they relate to that system rather than Canvas. This does not apply to a publicly accessible website, however.)

The survey asks what types of materials the instructor has uploaded (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's awareness of copyright as it relates to course materials, and what copyright provisions have allowed the instructor to copy and distribute third-party materials to students.

question 4 of the survey

question 14 of the survey

Figure 1: screenshots of Survey A questions

Survey B

Another small percentage of instructors using Canvas will be randomly selected and asked to complete the anonymous Survey B. This survey will look at a small number of specific uploaded files (readings, images or audiovisual materials) containing third-party materials in a Canvas course administered by that instructor, and will ask the instructor to indicate the specific copyright provision(s) used for each file.

The copyright provisions

Fair dealing. The fair dealing provision in the Copyright Act permits the use of a portion of a copyright protected work in certain situations, without permission from the copyright holder or the payment of royalties. SFU faculty, staff and students using the fair dealing provision are obliged to adhere to the Fair Dealing Policy and its guidelines, which are summarized in the Copyright and Teaching Infographic.

Another exception in the Copyright Act. Additional exceptions in the Copyright Act, such as the educational institution provisions, also allow certain uses of copyright protected works in specific situations. Information on these exceptions can be found in the Copyright for Instructors at SFU section of the website, and are summarized in the Copyright and Teaching Infographic.

Item is in the public domain. Works in the public domain are those for which there is no copyright protection, usually because the term of copyright has expired. Works in the public domain can be freely used by anyone for any purpose. Generally, copyright protection in Canada lasts for the life of the creator plus 70 years, after which copyright protection expires. For assistance in determining whether a work is in the public domain, use the Canadian Public Domain Flowchart. The creator of a work can also waive copyright and give their work public domain status (e.g. with a Creative Commons "CC0" license). Material made available online is not necessarily in the public domain.

Open Access publication or Creative Commons-licensed source. Open Access publications and organizations permit and promote the free distribution and use of their content, with appropriate attribution. You must adhere to the terms of the specific Open Access source in order to use the work. For further information, see Copyright Resources and Links for Instructors. Note that not all material found online is "open access." Creative Commons licenses are applied by the creator of the material, and allow copyright protected works to be used in many ways. However, you must adhere to the terms of the specific license in order to use the work.

Allowed by an existing library license. The SFU Library licenses thousands of electronic journals, books and other resources for use by instructors and students. Many of these licenses allow for uploading or linking in a learning management system. See the Electronic Collection Information page as well as individual licenses in the electronic journals database for specific terms.

Allowed as part of purchased course materials. Some textbooks or other course materials are accompanied by a digital component. The terms of use for these materials may allow them to be posted in a learning management system. See the individual item's terms of use or contact the publisher for more information.

Obtained permission from the copyright holder/licensed the material directly. You may contact a copyright holder directly to ask for permission to use their work in a specific way. For many published materials such as journal articles, you can apply and pay for a one-time license through the Copyright Clearance Center. This provision also includes materials made available by the author/creator with terms of use permitting educational copying, such as a website statement.

I own copyright in the work. If you created the work and copyright has not been assigned to another entity (e.g. a publisher or employer), you hold copyright in it. At SFU, you retain ownership of copyright in your research and your teaching materials, such as PowerPoint presentations, lecture notes and course syllabi. If your work was co-authored and/or has been published, check your agreement or contact the other parties to determine what rights you have beyond fair dealing.

Other/unsure. Use this selection if there is a copyright rationale not listed above which allows you to use this work in Canvas, or if you are not sure which provision applies. You may be asked to explain any responses of "Other/unsure."

Some content adapted with permission from Copyright and CLEW by the University of Windsor.