Q: What can be copied?
A: 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 50 years, copyright will have expired and the work is free to use.
- 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." For more information, see Fair Dealing.
- The work is under license and the license permits copying:
- Licenses such as the University’s e-journal or e-book licenses through the library's CRKN databases, and similar products, may permit copying. This license information is available through the Library website by searching individual journal titles. See How to Check Copying Restrictions for a Specific Journal, or you may contact your Liaison Librarian.
- A Creative Commons license may permit copying. Open Access works would fall into this category. Just make sure you stay within any limits imposed by these licenses.
- Government of Canada works: You may copy material of the Canadian government for non-commercial purposes, unless there is a specific indication to the contrary attached to the work. You must indicate the title of the work, credit the author organization, and acknowledge the government's copyright. Permission is required when the work is revised, adapted, or translated for any purpose, or if the work is being distributed for commercial purposes. For more information, see Industry Canada's page on Copyright Permission.
- 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 or to display via a course management system, such as Moodle.
- 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 Moodle), 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; and
- The work appears to have been posted legitimately (i.e. by or with the consent of the copyright owner).
- The work is available from one of our CRKN databases: This license information is available through the Library website by searching individual journal titles. More information is available on this guide, or you may contact your Liaison Librarian.
Q: How much copyrighted material can be copied?
A: How much material you can copy depends on what you are copying. For example, if the work is in the public domain, Open Access, or a Canadian federal government publication, 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 or one of the University's licenses, please bear in mind the following limits:
- Fair dealing limits: The copying must pass the two part test for fair dealing as established by the Supreme Court of Canada. For more information, see Fair Dealing.
- License limits for e-Resources: See limits applicable to each license. More information is available on this guide, or you may contact your Liaison Librarian.
Q: What are the consequences of violating copyright? Can I go to jail?
A: When copyright infringement occurs, the first line of action is usually a cease and desist letter. However, if an amicable settlement cannot be reached the offender may be taken to court. Remedies for copyright infringement include awards of damages or injunctions to stop the infringing conduct. Copyright owners may choose to receive damages based on actual damages suffered, including lost profits, or prescribed statutory damage amounts. In addition, the Copyright Act creates criminal offences and imposes penalties which include, for indictable offences, fines and imprisonment.
Q: Am I permitted to copy music scores?
A: A single music score is considered an individual work, so should NOT be copied in its entirety without permission. However, it is permitted to copy an entire score from a work that contains other scores using Fair Dealing. The works of many composers lie within the public domain. These scores may be used without permission. For a list of public domain scores, please visit: International Music Score Library Project .
Q: Am I permitted to copy government documents?
A: Federal Government Documents: The Canadian federal government makes a clear statement allowing reproduction, in whole or in part, of any Government of Canada work without permission, as long as it is for personal or public non-commercial use. You must indicate the title of the work, credit the author organization, and acknowledge the government's copyright. The recent Supreme Court rulings also allow copying for educational purposes. This applies to all federal government documents, whether print or electronic. See Industry Canada's page on Copyright Permission.
Nova Scotia Provincial Government Documents: Nova Scotia does not have an overall statement regarding Crown copyright. However, similar to Canadian federal documents, the Supreme Court rulings allow copying for educational purposes. You must indicate the title of the work, credit the author organization, and acknowledge the government's copyright. If there are questions regarding copyright for Nova Scotia government documents contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Other Provincial and Territorial Government Documents: In general, provinces allow legislative material to be copied for non-commercial use as long as you acknowledge the Crown copyright. Additionally, some provinces allow website material, including all documents, images, etc., to be reproduced without permission for non-commercial use, as long as you acknowledge the Crown copyright; while other provinces may require a permission request form. If you intend to alter the material you need to request permission. You can find the guidelines for copying on the copyright information page(s) for each province or territory.
- British Columbia
- New Brunswick
- Newfoundland and Labrador
- Northwest Territories
- Prince Edward Island
Q: Are there alternatives to using copyrighted material? Is free material available?
A: Yes, there is a wealth of material available in the public domain or under Open Access and Creative Commons. These works are freely available; however, may be subject to certain conditions, such as acknowledgement of the author.
Q: Is it permissible to share copyrighted material on my website?
A: It is permissible to share/post copyrighted material on your website if:
- you obtain permission from the copyright holder, or
- your website is password protected, restricted to those in your course, and the copy is within the limits of fair dealing, or
- your website is password protected, restricted to those in your course, the material is publicly available on the Internet, and the source is cited. Works must be legitimately posted on the Internet, with no technological protection measure or clearly visible notice prohibiting such actions.
Posting a link on your website is permissible, and in most cases preferable because linking does not constitute copying. When posting a link to StFX library materials, add the library proxy prefix http://stfx.idm.oclc.org/login?url= to the URL so students can access the document from off campus. See the guide on How to Create Reliable Links to articles in library subscribed databases. Consider using Moodle rather than your website for your course content.
The following notice can be provided to students when distributing copyrighted materials: "This work has been copied under a StFX University Library license, or an exception in the Copyright Act or under license from the copyright owner."