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

Tue, April, 27, 2021

Please be advised that all in-person services and space bookings will be cancelled until further notice.  We will offer curbside pickup of physical materials, as well as online and phone support, from 9am to 4pm... Read more

Thu, April, 1, 2021

Please be advised that our online catalogue will be undergoing maintenance on Monday, April 5th, beginning at 8pm and lasting approximately 1 hour.  Users will still be able to search the catalogue during the... Read more

Fri, February, 26, 2021

The Angus L Macdonald Library and our University Librarian, Sandy Iverson, are pleased to introduce our new blog, "... Read more

Thu, October, 1, 2020

The Angus L. Macdonald Library is excited to announce the removal of late fees on all materials and equipment in our collection effective immediately.  Late fees have also been eliminated on items borrowed from... Read more