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Copyright & You

Copyright Guidelines

The copyright law of Canada governs the copying and communicating of copyright-protected material. Certain copying and communications may infringe copyright law.

The Canadian Copyright Act and Supreme Court of Canada decisions are the foundation of Copyright at KPU. All members of the KPU community are affected by changes to the legislation and by copyright case law. This guide is intended to facilitate understanding of the implications of these developments for teaching, learning and research. It is updated regularly to provide the campus community with information and suggestions for best practices in using copyrighted material.

KPU respects and values the works of creators. The goal is to balance encouraging access to works with ensuring that the rights of creators are respected, both in accordance with copyright law.

While copyright issues can be complex, all students and employees are responsible for knowing their rights and responsibilities. All must abide by the requirements of the Copyright Act and are only permitted to make lawful copies of works.

The KPU Library will continue to monitor developments in Canadian copyright legislation and in case law pertaining to copyright.  These pages will be updated as new developments occur.

Any copyright-related questions or concerns should be directed to


These Copyright Guidelines have been prepared by the Library and efforts have been made to ensure accuracy and currency. 

However, they are intended for the education of the KPU community and should not be construed to be legal advice nor KPU policy.


Copyright is the sole and exclusive right of a copyright owner to produce, reproduce, perform, publish, adapt, translate and telecommunicate a work, and to control the circumstances in which others may do any of these things.

Copyright law in Canada protects a wide range of works including  films, music, artistic works as well as books.

Copying or scanning can be carried out under any one of the following circumstances:

  1. The work is in the public domain (see Unsure? tab to the left)
  2. Copying is explicitly allowed by the rights holder through a Creative Commons or Open Access licence or similar statement. A condition of using items under a CC licence is proper attribution. Click here tor how to correctly attribute.
  3. The work is appropriately licensed by the library. Click here for information on linking to articles in subscription databases.
  4. Permission has been granted by the rights holder (usually the author or publisher). Click here for information on obtaining permissions.
  5. The copying falls within one of the educational exceptions or fair dealing provisions of the Copyright Act.The Copyright Act provides exceptions which allow copying, in paper or electronic form, under certain circumstances for universities or persons acting under the authority of a university. 

Click here for information on copying under Fair Dealing.

The following activities are permissible in an educational institution and by persons acting under the authority of an educational institution without obtaining permission from the copyright holder:

  • Reproduce a work, or do any other necessary act, in order to display the work for education or training purposes. However, this exception is not available for works that may be located with reasonable effort, are commercially available on the Canadian market within a reasonable time and for a reasonable price, in a medium appropriate for education or training purposes; except in the case of manual reproduction (e.g. onto a dry-erase board, flip chart or other surface intended for displaying handwritten material).
  • Copy, translate, perform or communicate by telecommunication a work for an examination or test on the premises of the educational institution, unless the work is 'commercially available' in a medium or format appropriate for the instructor's purpose or unless a 'motive of gain' is involved.
  • Reproduce enactments and consolidations of enactments of the Government of Canada, and decisions and reasons for decisions of federally-constituted courts and administrative tribunals, provided due diligence is exercised in ensuring the accuracy of the reproduced materials and the reproduction is not represented as an official version.
  • Copy an entire work (other than a cinematographic work) into an alternative format including translation, adaptation and performance in public (except the making of a large-print book) for the purpose of serving students with perceptual disabilities as long as such an adaptation is not already commercially available in that format.
  • Live performances primarily by students are permissible if the performance takes place on the premises of the educational institution, is for educational or training purposes, is not for profit, takes place primarily before an audience consisting primarily of students and instructors of the educational institution, and does not involve a motive of gain.
  • Sound recordings protected by copyright can be played in the classroom with the same conditions as live performances. 
  • Radio and television programs can be played in the classroom but only at the same time as the program is aired. For example the movie could be viewed in the classroom at the same time as it was being broadcast by CBC. The same conditions as for live performances also must exist plus the playing must not be for profit.
  • Broadcasts: make a single copy of a work at the time that it is communicated to the public by telecommunication; and keep the copy for up to 30 days to decide whether to perform the copy for educational or training purposes. After 30 days the work must be destroyed unless royalties are paid and any terms and conditions, fixed under the Copyright Act for the making of the copy are complied with.


  • Note: If there is a need to copy outside the above exceptions & guidelines, other sources of permission, including asking permission from the copyright holder, can be considered.

You May Not Copy or Scan:

  • any published work where the publication containing the work does not contain other works. For example, no copy may be made of a play from a publication containing the play but no other work
  • unpublished works
  • proprietary workbooks, work cards, assignment sheets, tests and examination papers
  • instruction manuals
  • newsletters with restricted circulation intended to be restricted to a fee-paying clientele
  • business cases which are made available for purchase

The premise for the above is that copying is not intended to substitute for the purchase of a work that is commercially available in a medium that is appropriate for the purpose.

Note: Copying or communicating multiple short excerpts from the same copyright-protected work, with the intention of copying or communicating substantially the entire work, is prohibited.

Note: You cannot use logos or trademarks without prior permission from the owner. These are not covered under copyright law and do not have any educational exceptions

Some Other Do Nots:

  •  Don’t post copyrighted material to the open web.
  •  Don’t re-digitize material. First check to see if it is already available from the University Library and create a persistent link
  •  Copies cannot be used to replace or to substitute for the purchase of a Work.

Decisions from the Supreme Court

On July 12, 2012, the Supreme Court of Canada simultaneously released its decisions in five cases, cases which had been heard together in a series of oral hearings in December 2011. The impact of the decisions will become clearer over time but they do provide guidance and clarity in the application of fair dealing. Many feel they provide substantial leeway in interpreting fair dealing language.

Copyright Modernization Act (Bill C-11)

Bill C-11, the Copyright Modernization Act (CMA), received Royal Assent June 29th, 2012. The bill became S.C. 2012, c.20, the Copyright Modernization Act., and was proclaimed November 7th, 2012. Most sections of the legislation have been enacted, including the educational use of the internet amendment and the expansion of the fair dealing provision. What has not become law are the provisions relating to the WiPO Digital Copyright Treaties, WCT and WPPT, and the Internet service provider notice-and-notice provisions.

Some important changes for educators as a result of Bill C-11:

  • Works available on the Internet can be reproduced, sent over the internet and performed in public before students, provided it is for an educational purpose & provided it has been legitimately posted and there is no expressly worded prohibition stated on the site (just a copyright symbol is not enough to prevent such use). 
  • A legal copy of a video or DVD can be shown in public on the premises of an educational institution, for educational purposes, before an audience comprised primarily of students; this seems to remove the need to purchase public performance rights for classroom use. As was the case previously the video/DVD must be a legal copy or have been legally uploaded. 
  • Off air recordings of news or commentary can be shown to students for educational purposes, on the premises of the educational institution without having to be destroyed after one year or pay royalties.
  • New exception created: the "mashup" exception.
  • Changes to the statutory damages rules that distinguish between commercial and non-commercial infringement. The law now includes a cap of $5000 for all non-commercial infringement.  
  • Technological Protection Measures (TPMs) or digital locks are expressly protected by Bill C-11 and it is illegal to circumvent them for any purpose.  
  • Expands fair dealing to include new categories of education and parody or satire.  

Fair Dealing under C-11

Fair dealing, which applies to all types of works, allows limited and non-commercial copying or use of a work for the purposes of research or private study, criticism, review, and news reporting and is expanded under Bill C-11(Section 29) to include new categories of education, parody or satire. Education is not defined, but is likely to be limited to classroom or distance courses through a course management system. 

Although the recent Supreme Court Decisions and the Copyright Modernization Act have clarified and expanded fair dealing, this does not mean that you can copy freely nor can you copy large amounts nor can you circumvent digital locks. Limits to the amount of an item that you can copy still apply.