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What is Copyright?

In general, copyright means the sole right to produce or reproduce a work or a substantial part of it in any form. It includes the right to perform the work or any substantial part of it or, in the case of a lecture, to deliver it. If the work is unpublished, copyright includes the right to publish the work or any substantial part of it.

Copyright commonly protects the following:

  • literary works, e.g., books, pamphlets, computer programs and other works consisting of text;
  • dramatic works, e.g., films, plays, screenplays, scripts, etc.;
  • musical works, e.g., musical compositions; and.
  • artistic works, e.g., paintings, drawings, maps, photographs, sculptures, plans, etc.

Copyright also applies to performer's performances, sound recordings and communication signals (radio waves).

Generally, copyright lasts for the life of the author, the remainder of the calendar year in which the author dies, plus 50 years following the end of that calendar year.

Copyright in publications with multiple authors lasts until December 31 of the 50th year after the last author dies. Copyright in government publications lasts for the remainder of the calendar year in which the work is first published and for 50 years after that. Different rules apply to performer's performances, sound recordings and communication signals. Please note that other exceptions also exist.


Course Packs

Course Packs 

Course packs by faculty must be in a digital format and meet the fair dealings provision of the copyright act. Printed course packs are no long acceptable or permissible at UCN. To prepare a digital course pack, use any of the electronic resources available through the library, or submit a printed portion of a copyright work to the library to prepare in a digital format. Contact the Dean of Library and Instructional Services for details on preparing a digital course pack.    
Follow the guidelines below to protect yourself against legal action, and to fulfill your obligations as a student, faculty, or staff member of UCN.



Works protected by copyright may be copied on the library photocopier only if authorized by
(a) the Copyright Act for the purpose of fair dealing or under specific exceptions set out in that Act;
(b) the copyright owner, or
(c) a licence agreement between this institution and a collective society or a tariff, if any.
The Copyright Act provides for civil and criminal remedies for infringement of copyright.

Fair Dealing

Fair Dealing

A fundamental component of the Copyright Act is fair dealing, which allows a person to make copies of short excerpts of works without the permission of the copyright owner, if the purpose of the copying is one or more of the following: research, private study, education, parody, satire, criticism, review or news reporting, and the dealing is “fair”.  However, the precise amount of copying permitted by fair dealing requires an interpretation of the Copyright Act and the decisions of Canadian courts. Accordingly, when determining whether copying falls within the fair dealing exception, one must consider all of the relevant factors, including the following:

    1. the purpose of the proposed copying, including whether it is for research, private study, education, parody or satire, criticism, review or news reporting;
    2. the character of the proposed copying, including whether it involves single or multiple copies, and whether the copy is destroyed after it is used for its specific intended purpose;
    3. the amount of the dealing from the individual user’s perspective, including the proportion of the work which is proposed to be copied and the importance of that excerpt in relation to the whole work;
    4. alternatives to copying the work, including whether there is a non-copyrighted equivalent available;
    5. the nature of the work, including whether it is published or unpublished; and
    6. the effect of the copying on the work, including whether the copy will compete with the commercial market of the original work.

In addition, if the purpose of your copying is for criticism, review or news reporting, you must also mention the source and author of the work for it to be fair dealing.

Copyright Resources

Sam Trosow's Blog

Samuel Trosow is an Associate Professor at The University of Western Ontario working at the intersection of information policy, librarianship and digital media.

Dr. Michael Geist's Blog

Dr. Michael Geist is a law professor at University of Ottawa and a weekly columnist.  Like Dr. Trosow, he is a fervent advocate for Canadian's rights to fairly use Copyrighted material.  

Copyright Act