Copyright law applies to works you create as well as works you use. To ensure your work does not violate the copyright on others' work, review:
Copyright Basics - This gives an overview of copyright and should have enough information to answer most of your copyright questions.
Plagiarism - is failing to follow the academic convention that requires authors to cite other authors' ideas. It's possible to commit plagioarism without breaking copyright law. For example, it's legal to remix snippets of music to create a mashup for non-commercial use under Canadian copyright law. However, if you turned in your mashup without documenting whose snippets of music you borrowed, you'd be guilty of plagiarism.
When you write a paper, you must document where you got quotations, ideas, images, etc. Otherwise, you have committed plagiarism. It can be tempting to view writing a paper as just a mashup of others' ideas, although a good paper will always include contributions from the student-author that move the paper away from being a mashup to being something that adds their ideas to the scholarly discussion of the topic.
For more information on plagiarism, see this tutorial.
When writing papers and theses, make sure that:
In most academic writing, you'll be using only insubstantial portions of books and papers, so all you need to do is to correctly cite the works you use.
However, if you are using larger amounts from a particular work, you may need to review whether your use needs to be evaluated using Fair Dealing Policy below.
The Fair Dealing Policy defines a short excerpt as follows:
A short excerpt means:
(a) up to 10% of a copyright-protected work (including a literary work, musical score, sound recording, and an audiovisual work)
(b) one chapter from a book
(c) a single article from a periodical
(d) an entire artistic work (including a painting, print, photograph, diagram, drawing, map, chart, and plan) from a copyright-protected work containing other artistic works
(e) an entire newspaper article or page
(f) an entire single poem or musical score from a copyright-protected work containing other poems or musical scores
(g) an entire entry from an encyclopedia, annotated bibliography, dictionary or similar reference work
provided that in each case, no more of the work is copied than is required in order to achieve the allowable purpose.
For amounts that fall within short excerpts as defined by Fair Dealing, there is no need to get permission from the copyright owner. However, if you are planning on publishing your thesis, check with your publisher as they may have a different policy.
For information regarding the Fair Dealing Policy and Canada’s copyright law, contact Darcy Gullacher.