This FAQ serves as a centralized source of copyright information for the Brock University community and will be updated on an ongoing basis. It is intended for information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice.
Use of copyrighted materials at Brock is covered by both the Canadian Copyright Act and various agreements and licences the University has with copyright owners and representative organizations, such as its subscriptions to electronic journals. In addition, Brock adopted a Fair Dealing Policy which covers copying by Brock instructors and staff under the fair dealing exception.
Copyright protects literary, artistic, dramatic and musical works, as well as sound recordings, performances and communication signals. Copyright encompasses a wide range of things, including books, articles, posters, manuals and graphs, CDs, DVDs, software, databases and websites. Copyright exists as soon as a work is created. The work may still be copyright-protected even in the absence of the copyright symbol ©.
Generally, copyright lasts for the life of the author, plus 70 years. After that, works are considered to be in the public domain. However, there are certain situations where works for which the original copyright has expired still have some copyright protection. For example, new original content that has been incorporated in arrangements, adaptations or editions will attract copyright protection. Also, some works have different copyright terms. For example, government works are generally protected for 50 years from the date of first publication.
Note: The copyright term for literary, dramatic, musical, and artistic works was extended from 50 years from the death of the author to 70 years on January 1, 2023. This term extension does not apply to works that were already in the public domain before the amendments came into force.
Because the extension of the copyright term extension doesn’t ‘revive’ the copyright of works that had already entered the public domain, you should follow these rules for determining whether a work is in the public domain:
- If the author died in 1971 or earlier, copyright has expired and their works are in the public domain.
- If the author died in 1972 or later, their works are protected for their life plus 70 years.
Copyright is recognized internationally as a result of international conventions. In general, your copyright will be protected in other countries. But it is protected under that country’s laws which may differ from the copyright protection in Canada.
U.S. and Canadian copyright laws differ in a number of ways. For example, the U.S. has a provision known as “fair use” which is different from Canadian “fair dealing.” If you are from the U.S. or are collaborating with an American researcher, you should keep in mind that the rules that apply to the copyrighted material you intend to use or create may differ depending on where you want to use them.
Copyright gives the copyright owner a number of legal rights, such as the right to copy and translate a work. These rights are qualified by certain exceptions in the Copyright Act such as fair dealing, which balance the copyright owner’s interests with the public interest in allowing use of works for purposes such as education and research.
- Step 1: Identify the copyright owner: The first step is to identify who the copyright owner is and whether there is an organization that represents the owner. There are a number of copyright collectives that can give you permission (in the form of a licence) on behalf of the copyright owner, but if the copyright owner is easily identifiable and locatable, it may be easier to contact them directly. Sometimes, the owner of the work will not require payment for academic use. Usually you’ll 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. The WATCH File operated by the University of Texas at Austin is also a good source for locating copyright rights holders.
- Step 2: Request permission: Once you’ve located the owner, email or write, explaining how and why you wish to reproduce the work and requesting permission. See for example, this sample permissions letter for use of material in a Brock course, these sample permission emails from Tufts University (for use in a course) or from Concordia University (for use in a thesis).
- Step 3: Keep records: The permission should be in writing. An email will suffice. It is not advisable to rely on verbal permission. It’s also a good idea to keep a record of who gave the permission and their contact information, what was permitted, and the date.
Fair dealing is an exception in the Copyright Act that allows for the use of copyrighted material for the purpose of research, private study, criticism, review, news reporting, education, parody or satire, without permission from the copyright owner, provided that the use of the work is ‘fair’. Whether something is ‘fair’ will depend on the circumstances, including the amount used, the character and purpose of the use, the nature of the work, the effect of the use on the work and whether there were any appropriate alternatives.
Brock has adopted a Fair Dealing Policy, prepared by legal counsel for the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada (AUCC), which covers what types of copying may reasonably be expected to fall under the fair dealing exception. Under this Policy, Brock instructors and staff may copy and share with students short excerpts of copyright materials, either in print handouts, on Isaak/Sakai, or in a coursepack. The policy defines short excerpts to include:
- One chapter from a book
- One article from a periodical
- Up to 10% of a copyright-protected work (including a literary work, musical score, sound recording, or audiovisual work)
- An entire artistic work (including a painting, print, photograph, diagram, drawing, map, chart, and plan) from a copyright-protected work containing other artistic works
- An entire newspaper article or page
- An entire single poem or musical score from a copyright-protected work containing other poems or musical scores
- An entire entry from an encyclopedia, annotated bibliography, dictionary, or similar reference work.
Copying beyond these limits may be referred to email@example.com for an evaluation as to whether the proposed copying could nonetheless be considered fair dealing, in light of the relevant circumstances and case law in this area.
For additional information, see sections below on Copyright and Copying, Copyright in the Classroom, and Copyright and Isaak/Sakai/Websites.
Public domain refers to works in which copyright has expired or where the copyright owner has made a clear declaration that they will not assert copyright in the work.
For more information, see the section Are there copyright-free educational materials I can use?
Copyright for scholarly work, such as academic papers, is initially held by the author. However, authors are commonly asked to agree to a copyright transfer to the publisher when their work is accepted for publication. Each copyright transfer varies in the degree of rights given to the publisher, and what rights are retained by the author, and those rights may be negotiated.
Terms relating to copyright ownership and use of materials created by faculty are set out in Article 39 of the Collective Agreement Between Brock University and the Brock University Faculty Association (BUFA). Different rules apply to materials created by Brock staff and independent contractors.
Students own the copyright in their theses and other materials they create as part of course requirements. For more information, see Brock’s Ownership of Student-Created Intellectual Property Policy.
Ownership can be affected by agreements with industry sponsors or joint authors, who may have an interest in the works which they have helped to create or fund. Ultimately, ownership will depend on the facts of your situation. You should contact the Office of Research Services if you are unsure about the ownership of your work.
Copyright and Copying
In general, you can make a copy of a work if:
- The work is public domain: in general, in Canada, if the author of the work has been deceased for more than 70 years, copyright will have expired and the work is free to use.
- The work’s licence permits copying: you may copy works which are covered by a licence that permits copying, such as the University’s e-journal or e-book licences, or a Creative Commons licence. Open Access works would fall into this category. Just make sure you stay within any limits imposed by the licence.
- The copying is fair dealing: you may use a work for the purposes of research, private study, criticism or review, education, parody or satire, provided that your use is “fair.” Under Brock’s Fair Dealing Policy, you may copy and share on Isaak/Sakai, as a print-handout or in a coursepack, short excerpts of copyrighted materials, such as one chapter per book, one article per journal issue, one artistic work from a work containing other artistic works, or up to 10% of a work. Further information about fair dealing.
- The work belongs to the government of Canada or Ontario: you may copy material of the Canadian and Ontario governments for non-commercial purposes, unless there is a specific indication to the contrary attached to the work. You must credit the author organization and the title, and acknowledge the government’s copyright.
- The copy is for display in the classroom: you may make a copy of a work to display it to students during a class on campus.
- The copy is for use in a test/examination: you may copy a work to use in a test or examination.
- The work is on the publicly available Internet, with no digital lock or clearly visible notice prohibiting your use: you may copy works available on the public web and share with your students (either in class or on Isaak/Sakai), provided:
- You properly attribute the source and author of the work;
- The work is not protected by a digital lock (e.g. password protection);
- There is no clearly visible notice, either on the website or the work itself, prohibiting what you want to do;
- The work appears to have been posted legitimately (i.e. by or with the consent of the copyright owner).
For assistance in determining whether a particular work can be copied for a particular purpose, please follow up with the appropriate contact.
How much material you can copy depends on what you are copying. For example, if the work is in the public domain, Open Access, covered by a University subscription, or a Government work, you may copy the entire work. You may also copy an entire work from the public web, subject to certain limitations. However, if you are relying on the fair dealing exception please bear in mind the following limits:
- Fair dealing limits: Brock’s Fair Dealing Policy limits faculty and staff to copying ‘short excerpts’ when providing materials to students on Isaak/Sakai, as a print handout or in a coursepack, and provides guidance as to what may reasonably be considered a ‘short excerpt’ (such as one article per journal issue, one chapter per book, or up to 10% of a work). For more information, see here.
Copyright in the Classroom
You may include copyrighted material in your classroom presentations without having to get permission. Under the educational exception in the Copyright Act, you may make copies of works to display on the University’s premises for educational purposes, provided there is no commercially available version of the work in a medium that is appropriate for the purpose. If you want to project copyrighted works in a PowerPoint presentation outside of the University or post the presentation online, this likely falls under the fair dealing exception (provided your use can be characterized as ‘fair’).
If you have any doubts, contact Brock’s Copyright Coordinator.
It depends, but often yes.
Whether you can distribute journal articles in class depends on the journal:
- If the journal is from the Library’s e-journal collection, you can find the permissions for that journal using the instructions in the guide What can I do with articles from Library e-journals? If it expressly allows handouts or if it allows fair dealing or fair use type uses, you may be able to share photocopies with students. You can contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions about what is permitted.
- If the journal is not under a Brock library licence or you are copying from a print journal from the Library, you could copy and distribute the article under fair dealing, provided your use falls within the Fair Dealing Policy (i.e. you are copying no more than one article per journal issue or multiple articles which total no more than 10% of the issue).
The Copyright Act allows you to play a recording or live radio broadcast in class as long as it is for educational purposes, not-for-profit, before an audience consisting primarily of students and/or educators.
The Copyright Act includes the right for educational institutions to play films in class, on Brock premises, provided it is for educational purposes, not-for-profit, before an audience consisting primarily of students or instructors, and provided the work is not an infringing copy or the person responsible for the performance has no reasonable grounds to believe it is an infringing copy.
- copy a television news program at the time of its broadcast and then play that copy in class under the Copyright Act. However, documentaries and films are not covered by this exception.
- play a DVD of a television program, provided the DVD is not an infringing copy or you have no reasonable grounds for believing it is an infringing copy;
- record and play excerpts from the program under the fair dealing exception. Please note that Brock’s Fair Dealing Policy limits fair dealing to 10% of audio-visual works, unless a person designated by the University has approved more extensive use. For further information, see here.
Under another exception to the Copyright Act, you have the right to play in-class materials that you find on the Internet, subject to certain exceptions and limitations. So, if you find a television program online, you may play the program in class, provided the program appears to have been posted legitimately (i.e. with the consent of the copyright owner), there is no clearly visible notice on the program or the website prohibiting you from playing the program in class, there is no technological protection measure preventing you from accessing or copying the material (e.g. it’s not on a password-protected website), and when you play it in class, you acknowledge the TV production company and the website.
There is a wealth of material which is either in the public domain or available under the Creative Commons licence, 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. All Creative Commons licensed works can be used in teaching.
- Creative Commons: directories of audio, video, image and text materials available under Creative Commons licence
- Project Gutenberg: the largest collection of copyright-free books online
- Internet Archive : text and multimedia
- Directory of Open Access Journals
- JURN: curated academic search engine, indexing over 4000 free e-journals in the arts and humanities
- Wikipedia Public Domain Resources
- Directory of Open Access Repositories: world-wide directory of links to institutional and discipline-based repositories
- Critical Commons: media for scholarship, research and teaching; provides tools for scholars, students, educators
- MIT OpenCourseWare (OCW): free online course materials
- Open Courseware Consortium: free, open, high-quality university-level educational materials
- Open Educational Resources Commons: free teaching and learning content from around the world
- Open Culture: free cultural and educational media on the web
- Health Education Assets Library: Free, high-quality digital materials for health sciences education
- Wikipedia Public Domain Image Resources
- Wikimedia Commons: media repository of over 22 million files of public domain and freely licensed educational media content
- National Science Digital Library: high-quality online educational resources in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics
- Flickr Creative Commons: images available under the Creative Commons licence
- http://www.designskilz.com/free-photos/: 30+ websites to free photos
- morgueFile: free photo image archive
- Dreamstime: high-quality, royalty-free images available for download for as low as 23 cents/image or free
- 123RF: Thousands of free graphics, digital arts and audio files available through a link on the home page
- Open Clip Art: a collection of clip art style images available for use, for free, with no restrictions
- Incompetech (royalty-free music)
- Musopen (music, sheet music)
- http://freemusicarchive.org/: high-quality, legal audio downloads.
For public domain material, you can also search online by typing the phrase “public domain” and the kind of material you’re interested in. Or you can use Google’s “Advanced Image Search” [found under the ‘settings’ link at the bottom of the page]. Simply use the ‘usage rights’ filter and select images ‘free to use or share’. For more information about these types of materials, review this presentation by Brock’s Copyright Coordinator.
Under the fair dealing exception, students may use works for the purpose of research, private study, criticism, review, or education. So, provided the student is including the work for one of these purposes, and acknowledges the author and source of the material, and the use could be characterized as fair, it will likely be covered by the fair dealing exception.
Copyright in Learning Management System ("LMS") Websites
You can post on a LMS site:
- Your own copyright materials (e.g. notes, course outlines, publications for which you have retained the right to post copies online, including your presentation slides);
- Materials covered by Brock’s Fair Dealing Policy (e.g. one article per journal issue, one chapter per book, up to 10% of a work – see here for more details);
- Public domain materials (i.e. materials whose author(s) have been deceased for more than 70 years);
- Licensed materials (e.g. materials that are covered by a University e-journal or e-book licence which allows posting, or materials covered by a Creative Commons, or Open Access licence – bear in mind that some library journals will allow you to post their articles directly to LMS, while others will require that you link to the article);
- Government of Canada or Ontario materials (provided the material doesn’t specify otherwise and you do not revise the material in any way);
- Links (there are no copyright concerns in linking to material, such as websites and library resources, so link away!);
- Scanned material (under the fair dealing exception);
- Insubstantial portions of a work (copyright infringement concerns are only triggered if you copy an entire work or a substantial portion of a work – you should consider both the quantity and quality of the excerpt in deciding whether it is substantial);
- Website materials (There is an exception to the Copyright Act allowing educational use of Internet materials, including reproducing those materials for your students, provided that the material appears to have been posted legitimately (i.e. with the consent of the copyright owner), there is no clearly visible notice or link to such a notice prohibiting you from using the material for educational purposes, there is no technological protection measure preventing you from accessing or copying the material (e.g. it’s not on a password protected website) and when you use it, you acknowledge the author and the website.
Some journals licensed by Brock will allow you to post a copy on LMS, however, providing a persistent link to journal articles is the best practice. For more information on how to prepare a persistent link email email@example.com for assistance. To see what a journal license allows, find the permissions for that journal using the instructions in the guide What can I do with articles from Library e-journals? If the journal’s record says ‘yes’ to posting on a course management system (CMS), you can post the article directly to your LMS site. Otherwise, please link to the article.
If the journal is not licensed by Brock or you are working from a print journal, you may be able to scan and upload it to LMS under Brock’s Fair Dealing Policy. This Policy allows you to copy and post one article per journal issue or multiple articles, provided they total no more than 10% of the journal issue. For further information, see here.
If you are the author of the article and retained ownership of the copyright, or the right to post copies online, then you are welcome to do so.
If you created your slides and included short excerpts of copyright materials from other sources, posting these slides on LMS is likely covered by the fair dealing exception, and the ‘educational use of Internet materials’ exception may also cover your use of copyright from other sources in this way.
It depends, but often yes!
Emailing copyrighted materials to your students may be covered by fair dealing or a University licence.
There is an exception to the Copyright Act allowing educational use of internet materials, including reproducing those materials for your students, provided that the material appears to have been posted legitimately (i.e. with the consent of the copyright owner), there is no clearly visible notice or link to such a notice prohibiting you from using the material for educational purposes, there is no technological protection measure preventing you from accessing or copying the material (e.g. it’s not on a password protected website) and when you use it, you acknowledge the author and the website.
You may also copy and share Internet materials with students under the fair dealing exception. Brock’s Fair Dealing Policy limits fair dealing uses to “short excerpts” and provides guidance as to what may reasonably be considered a short excerpt. For further information, visit here.
If you have the student’s permission.
You may only post students works online if you have obtained the student’s permission. Under Brock’s Ownership of Student-Created Intellectual Property Policy, students own the copyright in works they create as part of course requirements. The University does have the right to make copies of the work for internal use and to circulate the work as part of the Library’s collection but this right does not extend to making it available online on LMS or an instructor’s website. Accordingly, you should ask students in advance whether they consent to have their work posted online and keep written records of the permissions given.
Canadian courts have held that linking to websites is not a reproduction of copyright materials. Links just direct users to material that is being reproduced and communicated on another website. Therefore, there are no copyright concerns with linking to websites. As a matter of best practice, it is generally not advisable to link to material that appears to be infringing (e.g. material which has been posted online without the consent of the copyright owner).
Copyright in the Library (Reserves and Interlibrary loan)
This process generally takes about two weeks at the beginning of term.
Print reserves may include multiple copies of articles provided that:
- The articles are covered by Brock’s Fair Dealing Policy – i.e. one article per journal issue or multiple articles which total no more than 10% of the journal issue.
Excerpts or book chapters
Reserves may also include multiple copies of excerpts provided that:
- the excerpts / book chapters are covered by Brock’s Fair Dealing Policy – i.e. one chapter per book (regardless of length) or multiple chapters or excerpts which total no more than 10% of the book
You can always put original materials, such as the book or the original print journal edition on reserve as this does not involve copying and therefore doesn’t raise any copyright concerns.
If the use does not fall under the Fair Dealing Policy, you will need to obtain permission. For instruction on how to obtain permission, see here. Library Reserves staff do not obtain permissions for paper materials. Instructors must be able to show Reserves staff that permission has been obtained in these cases before these materials may be placed on reserve.
Please note that the full citation of the work, i.e. author/s, title, and publication information must be included when submitting material for reserve.
Paper reserves generally take about two weeks to process if submitted at the beginning of a term.
If you only want to copy a portion of an out-of-print work, then your use may be covered by the fair dealing exception. Brock’s Fair Dealing Policy provides that you can copy one chapter of a book or up to 10% of a book, although there is the ability to request an override to copy beyond these limits where you believe that the copying is nonetheless fair dealing.
Yes, as long as the sound recording is in the form in which it was purchased. Copying is allowed only by permission of the copyright owner, or, in some cases, under fair dealing. Please note the University Library subscribes to databases to thousands of recordings that can be listened to over the internet. For example, for classical music, visit Naxos Music Library or Classical Music Library.
Copyright and Course Packs
You don’t have to!
Brock uses Canadian Scholars’ Press (CSPI) for course pack production. If the work you want to include is covered by the Fair Dealing Policy, it can be included in a coursepack without requiring further permission or payment. In some cases the copying may exceed the amount allowed under the Fair Dealing Policy and Brock’s licence subscriptions, in which case the CSPI will obtain permission for you and incorporate the cost of permission into the price of the course pack.
In addition, some articles from the Library’s electronic journal subscriptions may be included in course packs under the terms of Library licences, though to avoid additional costs to you and your students, these articles can generally be made available through Isaak/Sakai, either as a PDF or a link.
For more information contact the campus store.
Copyright Contacts and Resources
There are many websites with abundant information about copyright. Some useful resources include:
Canadian Intellectual Property Office –
Canadian Association of Research Libraries – Copyright Project –
Creative Commons – http://creativecommons.org/
Canadian Copyright Board’s list of copyright collective societies –
World Intellectual Property Organization – http://www.wipo.int/portal/index.html.en
This webpage is adapted from The University of Waterloo’s Copyright FAQ with permission.