PLEASE NOTE: The information on this page is meant to serve as a guideline and cannot be considered legal advice.
What is copyright? What does it do?
Copyright protects works (e.g. books, photographs, films) from being copied, performed or distributed without the permission of the copyright holder, usually the author or the creator of the work, and provides exceptions for special circumstances (e.g. educational use), in an attempt to balance the rights of creators and users. In Canada, copyright is governed by the Copyright Act (R.S.C. 1985, c. C-42). NOTE: Owning a work, or a copy of a work, especially if you didn't create it, does not mean that you can copy, distribute, or perform (especially for profit) that work.
Neither an idea nor facts can be copyrighted; only the expression of an idea or fact can be copyrighted. The expression of an idea is a work, and for a work to be copyrighted it must be fixed (or published) either as a physical object or a digital one. This covers literary works, dramatic works, artistic works, music, sound recordings, performer's performances and communication signals (including the Internet).
How long does copyright last?
In Canada, copyright generally lasts for 70 years past the death of the creator, at which time the copyright is no longer held by their estate, and the work shifts into the public domain. However, some or all of a copyright may be transferred to another person or entity such as a corporation or a society, which may extend the period of copyright coverage.
What is "Creative Commons?"
Creative Commons is a form of licensing that bridges the gap between "all rights reserved" or complete copyright protection and the public domain. For more information see the Creative Commons section of this guide.
What is "Open Access?"
Open Access is a growing movement in the scholarly community. As a publishing initiative, it provides free availability of scholarly publications, including peer-reviewed material. An excellent overview of Open Access is available from the MSVU Open Access Guide.
What is "Fair Dealing?"
The Canadian Copyright Act defines fair dealing as the rights of an individual to use material with attribution for the purpose of education, research, private study, parody, satire, criticism, review, or news reporting. For more information see the fair dealing section of this guide.
What is the purpose of the fair dealing policy?
The purpose of the policy is to translate some of the high level principles of fair dealing into practical rules applicable to the university setting. It outlines some of the user rights under the fair dealing exceptions that do not infringe copyright.
Can I make copies of all or part of a book that is no longer in print, but where the author has not been dead for 70 years or has otherwise assigned copyright?
Permission would need to be sought from the publisher.
Do the same copyright guidelines apply to on-line teaching and in-person teaching?
Most of the legal issues related to copyright are the same in both contexts (provided you're using an LMS such as Brightspace). Generally, if it was okay to do in class, it is usually okay to do online – especially when your online access is limited to the same enrolled students. To be more sure, check the answers to the questions below, consult the Fair Dealing page, or contact a library staff person through our Syllabus Service.
Does the fair dealing policy permit the making of multiple copies to hand out to students?
Yes. A faculty member or his or her proxy may make copies of a work that meets the definition of a short excerpt found in the Fair Dealing Policy to distribute as a handout to students in his or her class. See: Application of the Fair Dealing Policy for Universities to Teaching and Research by University Faculty, CAUT Guidelines for the Use of Copyrighted Material February, 2013, and the Alberta (Education) vs Acess Copyright Supreme Court Decision.
Can I place a required textbook on library reserve?
Yes, on a physical reserve shelf. But for on-line teaching, you may either provide a link to a legal digital copy of the textbook, or you may provide a digital copy of no more than 5% of the content of the textbook.
Can I place copies of readings on library reserve?
Yes, you may place copies of required, supplemental, and/or optional readings on reserve if one of the following applies to the copies:
1) they meet the definition of a short excerpt as laid out in the Fair Dealing Policy;
2) you have obtained permission and made arrangements with the rights holder of a reading to place a copy on reserve for your class if the copy exceeds the limits of a short excerpt as defined in the Fair Dealing Policy; or
3) the works you would like to make copies of are in the public domain.
Alternatively, or additionally, you may place the original books / journals which contain the readings for your students on reserve. Students are legally able to make copies for their own use from the original source as long as they follow fair dealing copying guidelines.
What if the Library does not have a copy of the book(s) I'd like to place on reserve?
The Library collection supports the curriculum and student and faculty research. Please contact Rebecca Young if you would like to request material for purchase. There may also be online versions of books available which assist in making readings available to your students; please check with the library for more information.
• Create online reading lists which incorporate web links or online articles/book chapters from material licensed or owned by NSCAD. If you would like assistance in adding digital material to your reading list using our subscriptions, please contact Rebecca Young or check out our Syllabus Service. Please keep in mind that auditing (Extended Studies) students are not able to access electronic reserve materials from off campus as they are not given a NSCAD email account.
• Use reading materials in the public domain
• Incorporate readings licensed through a Creative Commons license
• Obtain permission directly from the rights holder
Can I upload a PDF of a journal article or other copyright-protected work to Brightspace or another password-protected Course Management System?
You can only do this in instances where you have confirmed that the source in question grants you the rights to do so. A link is always preferable. In instances when uploading a PDF is permissible, the content must be posted in a password-protected environment that is only accessible to students registered in your course.
Can I provide my students with a link to a digital journal article or eBook?
Yes. The Library can assist you with the creation of properly-functioning links, or see the Syllabus Service section of this guide.
Can a copy be made where it is prohibited by the fair dealing policy, but is expressly permitted under an agreement with the publisher?
Yes. However, the reverse may not be true. If a copy can be made under the fair dealing policy, but is prohibited under an agreement with the publisher, assume the provisions of the agreement apply and that making the copy is prohibited. It is currently accepted that the terms of an agreement with a publisher trump the fair dealing policy.
Reproduction for instruction
29.4 (1) It is not an infringement of copyright for an educational institution or a person acting under its authority for the purposes of education or training on its premises to reproduce a work, or do any other necessary act, in order to display it.
Can I screen DVDs and videos in class?
Yes, but there are differences in what's allowed under copyright legislation between in-person and online teaching. For in-person classes, as per section 29.5 of the Copyright Act, you can screen (i.e. perform, not copy) audiovisual works for educational purposes provided that the DVD or video was legally obtained, is not an infringing copy, no profit is made, a digital lock is not circumvented in order to view the work, and the audience is primarily students, other instructors, or staff responsible for curriculum development.
For online teaching, it can be a bit more complex. Section 29.5 of the Copyright Act generally doesn't apply when playing the same media online.
If you can limit audio and video use for your course to relatively brief clips, you may be able to include those in lecture recordings or live-casts using AUCC's fair dealing guidelines for audiovisual works based on the Copyright Act. That allows you to use up to 10% of a copyrighted work to be distributed to students in your class only.
To use longer than brief clips of a sound recording or audiovisual work, there are some options, such as:
For help with providing students access to audiovisual resources, please check out the library's Syllabus Service.
Can I show a YouTube video in class?
Yes, you may link to a YouTube video and show it in a classroom setting as this does not constitute making a copy. However, permission is required if the user downloads a copy of a video for viewing, posting or distribution. It is a faculty member's responsibility to ensure the legitimacy of a YouTube video before showing it in the classroom. YouTube videos and videos from other sources online may contain content that infringes copyright. It's best to search for the official version of a video which was uploaded by the content creator, or that was created using a Creative Commons License, which explicitly allows for public use and distribution under certain conditions set by the creator.
Reproduction for examinations, etc.
29.4 (2) It is not an infringement of copyright for an educational institution or a person acting under its authority to
(a) reproduce, translate or perform in public on the premises of the educational institution, or
(b) communicate by telecommunication to the public situated on the premises of the educational institution a work or other subject-matter as required for a test or examination.
Can I email or post to my course website copies of articles or digital files downloaded from a database like JSTOR, etc.?
Maybe, if it is for educational purposes and it is a short excerpt from a work, and your course site is password-protected. However, doing so may be subject to the terms and conditions of the license agreement between the University and the database provider(s) or publisher. Best practice would be to email a link to the article, or post the link to your reading list in your Brightspace course environment.
Can I print materials from the Internet to hand out to my students in class?
Yes, if the materials are not protected by a digital lock, if there is no clearly visible notice (not just a copyright symbol) on the website or the work itself expressly prohibiting such use, or if you have obtained permission from the copyright holder or they have given permission for use under either a Creative Commons license or developed them as Open Educational Resources (See the Creative Commons & Open Educational Resources sections of the Copyright Subject Guide for details). Attribution must be given, and you must be sure that work you are using is not violating the copyright holder's rights. For online teaching, you can post a link in an email or within your Brightspace course environment for your students to access.