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Copyright at TWU - DRAFT POLICY: Copyright Basics

Canadian copyright for academics at TWU

Copyright Basics

What May I Copy, How Much, and What May I Do With It?

At TWU, what may be copied, how much, and what may be done with it is determined according to the following:

  1. The Canadian Copyright Act C-42, in particular the section on Fair Dealing. Closely related are cases decided by the Supreme Court of Canada in which they clarify fair dealing. See the Fair Dealing page for detailed information.
  2. The licences the library signs with the providers of our electronic databases.
  3. The agreement TWU signed with Access Copyright.

Insubstantial Copying

The Copyright Act C-42 states: "3. (1) For the purposes of this Act, 'copyright', in relation to a work, means
the sole right to produce or reproduce the work or any substantial part thereof."

Therefore, insubstantial use of copyrighted material does not violate copyright. Insubstantial use varies depending on the source material, but copying a few snippets of text from a book or article and a short excerpt of video or audio, is generally considered "insubstantial". Note that short excerpts of video or audio must be obtained without breaking a technological protection measure (digital lock).

Fair Dealing

Fair Dealing is a provision in the Copyright Act (Section 29) that allows people to copy insubstantial amounts of a work for the purpose of research, private study, education, parody, satire, criticism, or review, without seeking the permission of the rights holder. More information is available on the Fair Dealing page.

Copyright & the Internet

Much of the material on the Internet is protected by copyright. This includes:

  • postings to news groups,
  • e-mail messages,
  • images,
  • photographs,
  • music,
  • video clips, and
  • computer software.

The general rule is that to use material outside of what is permitted under Fair Dealing, you must get permission from the owner (usually the person or organization that created the material) to use text, graphics, images, sound and video that have been created by others.

There are some things that are not usually protected by copyright, for example, facts, information, titles, ideas, plots, and short word combinations; neither are works in the public domain or those published under a Creative Commons Licence.

Public Domain

Public domain works are those on which copyright has expired or which the creator or copyright owner has chosen to release as public domain.

According to the Copyright Act C-42:

Term of Copyright

6. The term for which copyright shall subsist shall, except as otherwise expressly provided by this Act, be the life of the author, the remainder of the calendar year in which the author dies, and a period of fifty years following the end of that calendar year.

For example, Robert Service died September 11, 1958, so copyright on his works expired in Canada on December 31, 2008. There are a number of exceptions, however.

Note that materials in the public domain may still contain copyright material, e.g., if an editor has added an introduction, notes, or commentary. In such cases, the material in the public domain may be copied freely, but the editorial material may not be copied beyond what is permitted by fair dealing.

Note also that every edition, translation, or adaptation of a work has its own copyright. For example, a translation of a work by Balzac would enter the public domain in Canada 50 years after the death of the translator.

More Copyright Basics

User-Generated Content

User-Generated Content (UGC) is broadly defined to include materials such as blogs, videos, audio files, online forum postings, etc. For the purpose of the law, it cannot simply be a copy of others' copyrighted material, but needs to contain creative elements as is often seen when people create audio or video mashups.

The new copyright act (section 29.21) allows individuals to use published copyright works to create and distribute a new work which will in itself be copyrighted. This means that your creation must contain enough of your own work that it is a new work that will qualify for copyright protection. All this is subject to the following limitations:

  1. It must be for non-commercial purposes.
  2. The source should be mentioned whenever possible.
  3. The source material must be to the best of your knowledge a legal copy of the work.
  4. The publication of your content does not have a significant negative effect on the source material.

Government Publications

With regard to government publications, anyone can copy federal laws and judicial decisions without charge, and without asking permission, provided the copy is accurate and it is not represented as an official version. "Permission to reproduce Government of Canada works, in part or in whole, and by any means, for personal or public non-commercial purposes, or for cost-recovery purposes, is not required, unless otherwise specified in the material you wish to reproduce" (GoC). See this page for more information on permissions for Government of Canada publications.

The statutes, regulations and judicial decisions of the Province of Ontario may be copied without permission for non-commercial use. At this time, copying other provincial or territorial laws or judicial decisions requires the permission of the appropriate government. If you have any doubt, contact the government publisher and ask for permission.

You may seek permission to use or reproduce works of the Province of British Columbia through this form.

Reader Responses & Advertising

In the case of letters to the editor or advertisements, the individual who wrote the letter and the company that commissioned the advertisement holds the copyright, not the publication.