Q: Where do I go to get started?

A: There are five questions that must be considered before you copy material for teaching, learning, or research purposes. See Getting Started.


Q: What are the laws around copyright that apply at StFX?

A: Use of copyrighted material at StFX is covered by the Canadian Copyright Act, as well as the Supreme Court of Canada rulings on Fair Dealing and its applications.


Q: What license agreements or relevant access terms may apply to copyright at StFX?


  • Digital Licenses: StFX has various agreements and licenses with copyright owners often negotiated through consortial agreements, such as subscriptions to electronic journals and e-books.  Use of copyrighted material is indicated in the terms of use for each agreement and is not uniform across all licenses. See How to Check Copying Restrictions for a Specific Journal, or you may contact your Liaison Librarian
  • Creative Commons License: Check to see if the work comes under a creative commons license. Look for this symbol: Copyright
  • Open Access: Check to see if the work is being published via an Open Access Journal or resides on an institutional repository.  Both are sources that are free to use without copyright clearance.
  • Web Content: Websites are publicly published and can be copied unless there is a clearly visible notice prohibiting it. Some websites such as YouTube offer an embedding tool that will enable you to embed the video into a website.  Most of the licensed journals via StFX offer a persistent URL that can be embedded into Moodle courses or a protected website. These persistent links bring users directly to the work and include required authentication. For more information, see the guide on how to create reliable links to articles in library subscribed databases.


Q: What does copyright cover?

A: 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, 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 ©.


Q: How long does copyright last?

A: Generally, copyright lasts for the life of the author, plus 50 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.


Q: How does copyright work internationally?

A: 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. See Berne Convention for more information.


Q: How is copyright different in the United States?

A: U.S. and Canadian copyright laws differ in a number of ways. For example, the U.S. has a longer copyright term (in general, life of the author + 70 years) and 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.


Q: What is fair dealing?

A: 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. See Relevant Supreme Court Rulings for more information on fair dealing.


Q: What is meant by public domain?

A: The term public domain refers to works in which copyright has expired or where the copyright owner has made a clear declaration that s/he will not assert copyright in the work.  In Canada, the public domain comprises all works whose authors have been deceased for more than 50 years.


Q: Who owns copyright in scholarly work? 

A: 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 2.11 (3.0), Works, of the StFX AUT Collective Agreement.


Students own the copyright in their theses and other materials they create as part of course requirements. For more information, see the StFX Student Intellectual Property Guidelines.

Library News

Mon, July, 8, 2019

Please be advised that some features of the Library Novanet search will be unavailable from 4:00 pm on Tuesday, July 9th for the rest of the week. This is a scheduled maintenance that will affect the... Read more

Wed, June, 19, 2019

We are happy to announce that access to Gaelstream has been partially restored on a new host ( Read more

Mon, June, 17, 2019

Please be advised that we are migrating our Digital Collections to a new platform over the next few weeks and access to these collections will be limited. If you have an urgent need for items from any of these... Read more

Wed, April, 24, 2019

In an effort to provide a higher level of service to our patrons, the Angus L. Macdonald would like to inform all users that our hours of operation for 2019-20 will change for each academic semester, effective... Read more

Tue, March, 19, 2019

Please be advised that Google Scholar is not working for off-campus users when accessed via the the Angus L. MacDonald Library website.  Off-campus users will not see the “Check for full text @ X” link, however... Read more