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Copyright resources and links for staff

The information and links below provide additional resources for SFU staff using copyright protected works. 

Copyright tools and forms

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 other resources and 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.

Canadian Public Domain Flowchart
A visual tool by the Copyright Office at the University of Alberta (2017, 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.

Copyright and Social Media at SFU Guidelines
Outlines considerations for staff using social media on behalf of SFU departments or offices.

Consent and Release Form - Photos, Videos, Recordings
Release form for use by any SFU department or group photographing or recording individuals.

Consent and Release Form - Previously Created Work
Release form for use by any SFU department or group sourcing media from the public (e.g. alumni, event attendees).

Independent Contractor Agreement
Agreement for use by any SFU department or group hiring external freelance media creators.

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).

About Creative Commons licenses by the Copyright Office

SFU copyright management information

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

Copyright Poster
For posting near copiers/scanners. Print on 8.5 x 14 paper and trim off the white border.

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.

Copyright Board of Canada
The Board administers, and has the right to supervise, agreements between users and licensing bodies and issues licenses when the copyright owner cannot be located. Through its 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 materialsTo 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. For more information about Open Access at SFU and publishing your work Open Access, see the Library's Scholarly Publishing site.