Frequently Asked Questions

Text adapted from the Copyright @ Waterloo FAQ, licenced under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 2.5 Canada Licence.

The links below provide you with general information about the Canadian Copyright Act and how it affects your work within the University. In addition to this FAQ, and for more detailed information on specific topics, please see the links below and the resources listed in question 5.3 below.

  1. Copyright Basics
    General copyright information including what it covers, how long it lasts, how you get permission to use someone’s copyright material and how it works internationally.
  2. Copyright in the Classroom
    How you and your students can use other people’s copyright material in your presentations and in class.
  3. Copyright and the Library
    How the library can assist you with copyright clearance, make your course materials available in our e-reserves system without infringing copyright, check licensing of online resources, and more!
  4. Copyright Contacts Who’s available to help you with copyright issues at Memorial. 
  5. Copyright Resources

1. Copyright Basics

1.1 What are the laws and rules relating to copyright at Memorial?

1.2 What does copyright cover?

1.3 How do I know if something is protected by copyright?

1.4 What rights does a copyright owner have?

1.5 What is fair dealing and how does it relate to copyright?

1.6 How long does copyright last?

1.7 What is meant by "the public domain"? How do I know if something is public domain?

1.8 How does copyright work internationally?

1.9 Is Canadian copyright law different from U.S. copyright law?

1.10 How do I get permission to use someone else's work?

1.11 What are moral rights and what do they have to do with copyright?

1.12 Are there special rules for scanning?

1.13 Who owns copyright in the works I create here at Memorial?

2. Copyright in the Classroom

2.1 Can I make copies of copyright-protected works to hand out to students in class? Can I email copies to students enrolled in my course(s)?

2.2 Can I include copies of another person's images and materials in my presentations?

2.3 Can I post copies of copyright-protected works to a secure, password-protected site (such as the library's e-reserves system or Brightspace)?

2.4 Is there any difference between posting something on my own website versus posting something on a secure password-protected site (such as the library's e-reserves system or Brightspace)?

2.5 I've come across an article in a print journal that I want to give out to my students. Can I photocopy it and hand it out to them?

2.6 Can I play music in class?

2.7 Can I play videos in class?

2.8 Can students include copyright materials in their assignments and presentations?

2.9 Are there any databases of copyright materials that I can use for free without worrying about copyright?

2.10 Is it okay to use images or other material from the Internet for educational purposes?

2.11 I gave a PowerPoint presentation in class that includes figures, charts, diagrams and/or other images from a textbook. Can I post it on a secure, password-protected site (such as the library's e-reserves system or Brightspace)? I'll be sure to cite where the figures came from.

2.12 Do I need to ask permission to link to a website?

2.13 What about course packs?

3. Copyright and the Library

3.1 How can the library help me with copyright?

3.2 What can I post in the library's e-reserves system?

3.3 Will the library scan articles or book chapters to put on e-reserve?

3.4 What if the library does not own the book, article, or film that I would like to put on reserve?

3.5 Can I link to ebooks myself on Memorial's secure learning management system (Brightspace)?

3.6 May I post a PDF of an e-journal article or an ebook chapter I obtained through the library to Memorial's secure learning management system (Brightspace)?

3.7 How can I place items on e-reserve?

3.8 What are licences for electronic resources?

4. Copyright Contacts

4.1 Who do I talk to at Memorial if I have a copyright question?

4.2 Is there anyone available to help me obtain copyright permission?

5. Copyright Resources

5.1 How can I get more information about copyright?

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1. Copyright Basics

1.1 What are the laws and rules relating to copyright at Memorial?

Use of copyright materials at Memorial is covered by the Canadian Copyright Act and various agreements and licences entered into by the university with copyright owners and representative organizations. The Copyright Act is the legislation in Canada that sets out what you can and can’t do with other people’s copyright materials. In addition to this, the university has special agreements with copyright owners, such as subscriptions to electronic journals, which specifically define your rights to certain content.

In order to determine whether what you want to do is permissible, you need to first check that you comply with any agreements or licences covering the work in question and/or the Copyright Act. You should ask yourself:

  • Is the work in question covered by agreements or licences that the University has with publishers, or a public licence, such as a Creative Commons licence? If so, is what I want to do permissible under those agreements or licences? Check here for library licences.
  • If no agreement or licence is in place, is what I want to do covered by the Copyright Act, either under the educational exceptions or under Memorial's Fair Dealing Requirements?

If you're not covered by any agreement or licence or an exception under the Act, you'll need to get permission for what you want to do from the copyright owner. For assistance in obtaining permission, contact Memorial University Libraries.

1.2 What does copyright cover?

Copyright protects literary, artistic, dramatic and musical works, as well as sound recordings, performances and communication signals. This encompasses a wide range of things ranging from books, articles, posters, photos and images, manuals and graphs, to CDs, DVDs, software, databases and websites.

1.3 How do I know if something is protected by copyright?

Copyright protection arises automatically when any one of the above types of works is created, and generally continues for 50 years after the author’s death. However, this can depend on the type of work and where you want to use it. When you want to use a particular work in Canada, the safest approach is to assume that the work is protected by copyright unless there’s a clear indication to the contrary, or the author has been dead for at least 50 years.

1.4 What rights does a copyright owner have?

Copyright gives the copyright owner a number of legal rights such as the right to copy and translate a work, and the right to communicate a work to the public by telecommunication. These rights are qualified by certain exceptions that balance the copyright owner’s interests with the public interest in allowing use of works for purposes such as education and research.

1.5 What is fair dealing and how does it relate to copyright?

Fair dealing is a user’s right in copyright law permitting use, or “dealing” with, a copyright-protected work without permission or payment of copyright royalties. The fair dealing exception in the Copyright Act allows you to use other people’s copyright material for the purpose of research, private study, criticism, review, news reporting, education, satire or parody provided that what you do with the work is ‘fair’. Whether something is ‘fair’ will depend on the circumstances. Courts will normally consider factors such as:

  • The purpose of the dealing (Is it commercial, research or educational?)
  • The amount of the dealing (How much was copied?)
  • The character of the dealing (What was done with the work? Was it an isolated use or an ongoing, repetitive use? How widely was it distributed?)
  • Alternatives to the dealing (Was the work necessary for the end result? Could the purpose have been achieved without using the work?)
  • The nature of the work (Is there a public interest in its dissemination? Was it previously unpublished?)
  • The effect of the dealing on the original work (Does the use compete with the market of the original work?)

It is not necessary that your use meet every one of these factors in order to be fair, and no one factor is determinative by itself. In assessing whether your use is fair, a court would look at the factors as a whole to determine if, on balance, your use is fair. For more guidance on how to apply the fair dealing factors to your particular circumstances, please contact Memorial University Libraries.

If, having taken into account these considerations, the use can be characterized as ‘fair’ (and it was for the purpose of research, private study, criticism, review, news reporting, education, satire or parody) then it will fall within the fair dealing exception and will not require permission from the copyright owner. In addition, if your purpose is criticism, review, or news summary you must also mention the source and author of the work for it to be fair dealing. Note: for further clarity and additional information about limits on the amount and nature of copying permitted under fair dealing in certain contexts, please see Memorial's Fair Dealing Requirements or contact Memorial University Libraries.

1.6 How long does copyright last?

How long copyright lasts depends on which country you are in. In Canada, copyright generally lasts for the life of the author, plus 50 years. By contrast, in the U.S. and Europe, copyright generally lasts for the life of the author plus 70 years, though it can differ depending on factors such as the type of work, the manner of publication and the date of creation. Use of a work in Canada is governed by the Canadian rules for the duration of copyright protection. Once copyright has expired, you no longer need permission to make use of it. See also question 1.7.

1.7 What is meant by "the public domain"? How do I know if something is public domain?

The term “public domain” refers to works in which copyright has expired. See question 1.6 above for term. Once a work is in public domain you may use it however you wish without obtaining permission.

Modern editions of public domain works may still have copyright material in them. For example, many editions of Shakespeare's plays contain added original materials (such as footnotes, prefaces etc.) which are copyright-protected because the authors have used skill and judgment in creating the new material. This creates a new copyright in the added original material, but not in the underlying text of the original work in which the copyright had expired.

And don’t assume that everything you find on the Internet is in the public domain just because it is publicly available. Most of the material you find online is protected by copyright - consider whether your use is covered by fair dealing or the exception for educational use of material publically available through the Internet. See question 2.12 for further information about using material found on websites.

Note: While U.S. government documents are public domain, Canadian government documents are not. In Canada, the Reproduction of Federal Law Order permits anyone, without charge or request for permission, to reproduce Canadian laws and decisions of federally-constituted courts and administrative tribunals. Check federal or provincial government websites for terms of use for other documents.

1.8 How does copyright work internationally?

Copyright is recognized internationally thanks to international conventions. Works published outside Canada are given the same protection in Canada as works that are published here. In return, your copyright will be protected in other countries. But it is protected under that country’s laws so there may be some differences from the level of protection you would get in Canada. If you’re concerned about someone’s use of your work overseas, you will need to check the particular jurisdiction’s copyright laws to confirm whether they are infringing your copyright.

1.9 Is Canadian copyright law different from U.S. copyright law?

The copyright laws in Canada and the U.S. have some things in common but there are many differences.  In particular, note that the U.S. fair use exception is NOT the equivalent of fair dealing in Canadian law. As well, some works that are in public domain in the Canada are still in copyright in the U.S. and vice versa. You should consult Canadian law whenever you are copying in Canada, no matter where the work was originally published.

1.10 How do I get permission to use someone else's work?

You ask! If your use isn’t permitted by a licence, or one of the exceptions in the Copyright Act, you will need to ask for permission. For assistance with gaining permission, contact Memorial University Libraries.

The permission must come from the copyright owner so the first step is to identify who the copyright owner is.  Usually the copyright symbol © will be found next to the owner's name somewhere in the work, often at the beginning of a book, at the side of a photograph or at the bottom of a webpage.

If the copyright owner is easy to find, you may contact them directly. Many copyright owners will give permission to academic users without requiring payment. Send a written request explaining how and why you want to use the work and get a written permission in reply (email correspondence is acceptable). It is not advisable to rely on verbal permission. You should also keep a file record of who gave the permission, what was permitted, the date, and how to contact the person who gave the permission.

1.11 What are moral rights and what do they have to do with copyright?

Moral rights are additional rights held by authors of literary, dramatic, musical and artistic works. These rights protect the integrity of a work and the reputation of its author. The right of attribution is the right to always be identified as the author of a work or to remain anonymous. The right of integrity is the right not to have a work modified or associated with goods or services in a way that is prejudicial to the author’s reputation. These rights are important for authors to ensure they get appropriate recognition for their works and for prohibiting any prejudicial changes to their works.

1.12 Are there special rules for scanning?

If you want to scan a copyright work, you may do so only if the use falls within one of the exceptions in the Copyright Act such as fair dealing. If you want to post the work to a website, it must be password protected (e.g. the library's e-reserves system) and restricted to students enrolled in your course. If your use falls outside the exceptions, you will need to get the copyright owner’s permission.

1.13 Who owns copyright in the works I create here at Memorial?

Under Canadian copyright law, the employer owns copyright to the works created by employees as part of their employment unless there is a contractual agreement that says otherwise. Therefore Memorial owns copyright in works created by university staff. However, members of MUNFA, TAUMUN, and LUMUN retain copyright in the works they create for teaching purposes, e.g. course notes, handouts, exams, syllabi, because it is specified in their contracts. More information can be found in the relevant collective agreements for each union.

Ownership can also be affected by agreements with publishers, industry sponsors or joint authors, who may have an interest in the works which they have helped to create or fund. Check any contract you sign so you know what rights you retain if any.

Students retain copyright in all the works they submit as course work, e.g. theses, papers, exams, assignments, etc. Instructors cannot use examples of student work for teaching purposes without written permission from the student.

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2. Copyright in the Classroom

2.1 Can I make copies of copyright-protected works to hand out to students in class? Can I email copies to students enrolled in my course(s)?

Yes, if you adhere to the amount that may be copied under fair dealing. Please see the Fair Dealing Requirements for the copying limits. Under fair dealing you may make copies of another person’s works and distribute them to students enrolled in your course. However, it may be more efficient to post items in the library's e-reserves system and the Library can take care of copyright clearance for you.

2.2 Can I include copies of another person's images and materials in my presentations?

Yes. Under fair dealing you may include another person's work, including images, in your presentations (e.g. PowerPoint) that you display to students enrolled in your course. You must adhere to the amount that may be copied under fair dealing. Please see the Fair Dealing Requirements for the copying limits.

2.3 Can I post copies of copyright-protected works to a secure, password-protected site (such as the library's e-reserves system or Brightspace)?

Yes, you can if it is permitted under the publisher's license terms of use (for library e-journals and ebooks) and you adhere to the amount that may be copied under fair dealing. Please see the Fair Dealing Requirements for the copying limits. It may be more efficient to use the library's e-reserves system because the library can take care of all copyright clearance for you.

2.4 Is there any difference between posting something on my own website versus posting something on secure, password-protected site (such as the library's e-reserves system or Brightspace)?

Yes. Posting something on your own website means you are making the work available worldwide. Wide distribution tends towards the conclusion that the dealing is not “fair”. Further, unlimited distribution is rarely permitted by any university licences. By contrast, the library's e-reserves system is password-protected and accessible only by students enrolled in courses at Memorial. Preference should always be given to posting on a password-protected, secure website.

2.5 I've come across an article in a print journal that I want to give out to my students. Can I photocopy it and hand it out to them?

Yes. The Fair Dealing Requirements permit the copying of a print journal article. Copies may be handed out to the students enrolled in your course. However, it may be more efficient to use the library's e-reserves system because the library will scan the article for you and it will be accessible to students 24/7 for the entire semester.

2.6 Can I play music in class?

Yes! The Copyright Act allows you to play a sound recording or live radio broadcasts in class as long as it is for educational purposes, not for profit, and on the university premises before an audience consisting primarily of students. If you want to use music for non-educational purposes, e.g. for background music at a conference or in an athletic facility, a licence must be obtained from the copyright collectives SOCAN and Re:Sound.

2.7 Can I play videos in class?

You may play videos in class in the following circumstances:

  • You may show a film or other cinematographic work in the classroom as long as the work is not an infringing copy, the film or work was legally obtained, and you do not circumvent a digital lock to access the film or work. You may contact the library to request a purchase (on DVD or streaming).
  • An educational institution (or those acting under their authority) may show a live broadcast, or copy television news programs or news commentaries and play them in class. If you wish to copy documentaries or other types of television programs, contact the library.
  • You may show a work available through the Internet (e.g. YouTube videos) except under the following circumstances:
    • The work is protected by digital locks preventing their performance.
    • A clearly visible notice prohibiting educational use is posted on the website or on the work itself.
    • You have reason to believe that the work available on the Internet is in violation of the copyright owner’s rights.

2.8 Can students include copyright materials in their assignments and presentation?

Generally yes. Since fair dealing now includes education, students may include limited amounts of material in their assignments and presentations. See the Fair Dealing Requirements for details about amounts allowable under fair dealing.

2.9 Are there any databases of copyright materials that I can use for free without worrying about copyright?

Yes. There’s a wealth of material out there either in the public domain or posted with accompanying permission to use. There is a growing use of Creative Commons licensing on the internet, which make works available for free subject to reasonable conditions, such as non-commercial use only and acknowledgment of the author.

The Creative Commons website has more information as well as a search tool, and content directories which list audio, video, image and text materials. For public domain material, simply search online for ‘public domain’ and the type of material you’re interested in. Some useful sites include: Project Gutenberg (the largest collection of copyright-free books online) and Wikipedia, which has an entire page dedicated to public domain resources.

For other online materials, a recommended best practice is to check the website’s ‘Terms of Use’, or ‘Legal Notices’ section to confirm what conditions apply to use of the website’s material. In many cases, you may be able to use the material for free for non-commercial and educational purposes.

2.10 Is it okay to use images or other material from the Internet for educational purposes?

It depends on what you want to do. Materials on the Internet are treated the same under copyright law as any other copyright materials, so if you want to use them, they have to either fall within one of the Act’s exceptions (such as fair dealing or the educational use of the Internet exception), or be open access or in the public domain. If what you want to use isn’t open access or public domain and does not fall into one of the Act’s exceptions you will have to obtain permission from the copyright owner.

You should check the website’s ‘Terms of Use’, or ‘Legal Notices’ section to confirm what conditions apply to use of the website’s material, including whether educational use is explicitly prohibited. Many websites will allow non-commercial educational use of their materials. For assistance, contact a Copyright Liaison Librarian.

2.11 I gave a PowerPoint presentation in class that includes figures, charts, diagrams and/or other images from a textbook. Can I post it on a secure, password-protected site (such as the library's e-reserves system or Brightspace)? I'll be sure to cite where the figures came from.

As long as you adhere to the amounts that may be copied under fair dealing you may post charts and diagrams from textbooks, or other works, on a secure, password-protected site only accessible by students enrolled in courses at Memorial. If, for example, you wish to post multiple images from a book, you may do so as long as those images amount to no more than 10% of the book (see the Fair Dealing Requirements).

Please note that just because you acknowledge the author and source of a work doesn’t mean you won’t be liable for copyright infringement. Acknowledging the source is no defense if the way in which you’ve used the work is not permitted under the Copyright Act. So make sure you either fall within an exception or have the copyright owner’s permission.

2.12 Do I need to ask permission to link to a website?

Because no copying occurs, linking directly to content on another web page is almost always permissible. If you have reason to believe that the content is posted without the permission of the copyright owner, you should avoid linking to it. If the web page to which you link does not clearly identify the website and content owner, your link should include details about the author, copyright owner and source of the materials. This will avoid any suggestion that the link is to your own material or that your website is somehow affiliated with the other site.

2.13 What about course packs?

Memorial University Libraries is now responsible for copyright. It is our policy that we do not do copyright clearance for course packs. Please use our e-reserves system to make required readings available to your students.

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3.1 How can the library help me with copyright?

Our Librarians are very knowledgeable about copyright issues, including applying the fair dealing guidelines and the education exemptions, understanding the license terms of use for our e-journals and ebooks, obtaining permission from copyright holders to make works accessible to you and your students, and knowing what your rights are as an author. We take care of copyright clearance for any materials you wish to post in our e-reserves system, so you do not need to worry about copyright infringement.

Our Copyright Liaison Librarians are happy to answer any questions you may have.

3.2 What can I post in the library's e-reserves system?

The library has a secure, password-protected e-reserves system where you can create a "Reading List" for you course. You and your students can access it through the library website and log in using their MUN ID. If you are using Brightspace, your Reading List also displays in your course shell.

Under fair dealing and the education exemption, we can post:

  • a PDF of an article
  • a single chapter from a book (or up to 10% of a book)
  • links to entire ebooks, streaming videos, podcasts and websites
    • We can digitize a DVD
  • PowerPoint presentations or Word documents where either you are the copyright holder, or, the amount of copyright material falls within the fair dealing requirements
  • an entire artistic work (including a painting, print, photograph, diagram, drawing, map, chart, and plan) from a copyright-protected work containing other artistic works

If the amount of material you need to post exceeds the limits in the fair dealing requirements, we can usually purchase access through the Copyright Clearance Centre or contact the copyright holder directly to obtain permission. When you use our e-reserves system, you can feel secure that the library has taken care of all necessary copyright clearance for you and that your students have 24/7, online access to their course materials.

3.3 Will the library scan articles or book chapters to put on e-reserve?

Yes. Library staff are happy to scan print material for you!

3.4 What if the library does not own the book, article, or film that I would like to put on reserve?

We are able to purchase materials not in our collection that are required for course e-reserves, provided they are compatible with our collection development policies. You may also bring in a personal copy, if you have one, that we could digitize or place on physical reserve.

3.5 Can I link to ebooks myself on Memorial’s secure learning management system (Brightspace)?

Yes, however, most library ebooks are, for reasons of economy, licensed for use by only one person at a time. When the Library is made aware that an ebook will be recommended reading for a course, we are usually able to purchase an adjusted, multi-user license to avoid access problems. We recommend submitting your list of required and/or recommended readings to the library to ensure that all students can access their course materials through our e-reserves system. If you are using Brightspace, the library's e-reserves Reading List for your course displays in your course shell.

3.6 May I post a PDF of an e-journal article or an ebook chapter I obtained through the library to Memorial’s secure learning management system (Brightspace) myself?

It depends. Posting an article from an ejournal or a chapter of an ebook to a secure, password-protected site may or may not be permitted under the publisher's license terms of use. It may be more efficient to use the library's e-reserves system because the library can take care of all copyright clearance for you. The e-reserve Reading List for your course displays in your Brightspace course shell. If you do wish to do it yourself, please contact your Copyright Liaison Librarian for assistance to confirm whether the licence permits this type of use.

3.7 How can I place items on e-reserve?

To place items on e-reserve, please contact your branch.

3.8 What are licences for electronic resources?

The library has contracts with a variety of vendors and publishers that provide the campus with thousands of electronic resources (databases, ejournals, ebooks, etc.) costing millions of dollars per year.

In addition to paying for these resources, we negotiate licence agreements that stipulate how and by whom a given resource may be used. These licences provide both on and off-campus access to content for current faculty, staff and registered students. Access for the general public is provided through on-campus wifi or computers only. Some licence agreements permit us to post content in a secure, password-protected system (such as our e-reserves system or Brightspace) but some do not.

If licence terms are violated by anyone, licensors may temporarily suspend access for the entire university community. In cases where a resolution cannot be reached, the vendor may have the right to permanently revoke a licence and access to the resource.

You can help prevent such problems by adhering to good practices and avoiding improper use. Here are some rules of thumb.

Dos and don'ts

Usually OK: Not OK:
  • Making a limited number of print or electronic copies for your personal use
  • Systematic or substantial printing, copying or downloading (such as entire journal issues)
  • Using materials for personal, instructional or research needs
  • Selling or re-distributing content, or providing access to someone outside of the university community, such as an employer
  • Sharing with Memorial faculty, staff and students
  • Sharing with people other than Memorial faculty, staff and registered students
  • Posting links to specific content
  • Posting actual content or articles to third party websites or listservs
 
  • Modifying or altering the contents of licenced resources in any way

Always acknowledge your source on any published or unpublished document when you use data found on electronic resources.

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4. Copyright Contacts

4.1 Who do I talk to at Memorial if I have a copyright question?

The main contact for copyright-related matters or presentations on copyright compliance or author's rights, is:

Dr. Patrick Gamsby
Scholarly Communications Librarian
QEII Library
St. John's, NL A1B 3Y1
Tel: (709) 864-2124
pgamsby@mun.ca

Our Copyright Liaison Librarians are available to assist you with e-reserves and copyright clearance for course materials:

QEII: Kate Shore
Grenfell Campus: Crystal Rose
Health Sciences: Michelle Swab
Marine Institute: Catherine Lawton
Music Resource Centre: Becky Smith

4.2 Is there anyone available to help me obtain copyright permission?

If you are using the library's e-reserve system, we obtain all necessary copyright permissions. For other types of copyright permissions, please contact Dr. Patrick Gamsby, Scholarly Communications Librarian:
Tel: (709) 864-2124
pgamsby@mun.ca

5. Copyright Resources

5.1 How can I get more information about copyright?

Some key Memorial resources are:

There are many other websites with information about copyright. Some include:

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