Research and publishing

As part of a research project, you may need to copy and share copyright materials with your project team members. Fortunately, under the fair dealing exception in the Copyright Act, using copyright materials for research purposes is permitted, provided your use of the material is fair (such uses may also be covered by library licences).

In most cases, you should be able to exercise your own personal judgment to determine whether what you want to do is fair, taking into account factors like, how much you want to copy/share, how widely you intend to distribute it, whether you intend to distribute the materials on a systematic or ongoing basis or whether this is merely a one-off, whether you’re impacting the market of the works you’re dealing with, and whether you have any reasonable alternatives. If you have any questions, contact

As you may have noticed, when you submit an article for publication, or once an article has been accepted for publication, you’ll generally be asked to sign or agree to some sort of copyright assignment or licence. Under these agreements, you’ll often either assign copyright to the publisher or grant it exclusive publishing rights. You may retain some rights to use the article in your teaching and research, but these rights can often be limited to pre-print versions or be subject to conditions or embargo periods.

Open Access publications take the opposite approach. For these publications, you’ll usually get to retain your copyright and will be granting the publisher non-exclusive rights, which means you can publish and distribute your article in other forums and publications.

For a more detailed overview of copyright and journal publishing, see this presentation from June 2012.

Publishing a scholarly text or a textbook raises a range of copyright concerns. Your book publishing contract should set out in detail how copyright is being dealt with otherwise ask your publisher representative to clarify.

Some of the main copyright questions you should be asking yourself are:

  1. What happens if the book goes out of print or the publisher goes bankrupt/into receivership?
  2. Do you need to obtain permission (and pay any fees) for including third party materials in the book and can excerpts ever be included under fair dealing without requiring permission?
  3. Do you have any control or right of first refusal over subsequent revisions?
  4. Who is liable if a copyright infringement claim is brought?
  5. Is there a non-compete clause?

For more information, see this presentation by a university press publisher from November 2012.