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Using information in an ethical and legal manner is essential when engaging in any educational activity.

Information in this guide is intended for the purpose of increasing copyright literacy.

It is not to be seen as legal advice.

What Rights Do I Have As A Student?

Under the Canadian Copyright Act, students at post-secondary institutions are covered by several educational exceptions and have the right:

  • to show legally acquired DVDs and videos or play legally acquired sound recordings in classroom presentations,
  • to use publicly available material from the internet in assignments, projects and presentations,
  • to play live broadcasts or podcasts in the classroom.

In addition, students have all general user rights, including:

  • reproduction for private purposes,
  • fair dealing for the purposes of research, private study, education, parody, satire, criticism, review, and news reporting,
  • the right to create new works from other copyright protected works, subject to the following limitations: non-commercial, sources are listed, original works are legal copies, and no adverse financial or other effect on original works.


Once students graduate or otherwise leave the institution, educational exceptions cease to apply, but they retain all individual user rights.

How Does Copyright Apply To My Work?

Original works created by students are protected by copyright and students must authorize further use of their works.

As students own the work they create, their works cannot be photocopied or reproduced in any way without their permission. Student authors can refuse to share their work with other students. The original work could be circulated in a physical classroom but not reproduced to share. (The preceding is true unless there is a written agreement to the contrary or there is an employee-employer relationship) 

What About Material On the Internet?

Under Fair Dealing you may copy a short excerpt of material found on the internet (short excerpt is determined by the type of material you find from the Internet); see the box "Are There Limits to How Much I Can Copy?" to see what constitutes a short excerpt.

Under other exceptions in the Copyright Act you can reproduce an entire work from the Internet (image or text) and communicate it to other students as long as you are not breaking a TPM or there is no clearly visible notice prohibiting copying; TPMs or Technological Protection Measure includes passwords or regional encoding.

What About Using Images?

Most images you find in print material or on the Internet are copyright protected. Under exceptions in the Copyright Act you can make some use of copyrighted images in your course assignments. 

Under Fair Dealing you can use one entire image from a compilation of images (e.g. a gallery of images on the Web; a book with images) or up to 10% of a stand-alone image (an image that is not part of a larger compilation but is on its own). 

Under other educational exceptions in the Copyright Act you can reproduce an entire image from the Internet, as long as there is no clearly visible notice prohibiting copying and as long as you are not breaking a TPM (Technological Protection Measure).

An alternative to using images under the Fair Dealing exception is to make use of images that are posted to the Web under a Creative Commons license or to use images that are in the public domain.

For more info on Images refer to the Images Tab on the Library Copyright Guide.

Where Can I Find Images That I Can Use Without Permission?

  • Some websites allow you to search specifically for images that have been licensed for reuse or that are in the public domain. There are some excellent resources for finding these types of images, including:
    • Wikimedia Commons: A database of nearly 20 million freely usable image, sound, and video files. To find any specific instructions for reusing or attributing images, check the "licensing" section on the image page.
    • Flickr Commons: A wonderful collection of public domain images from a variety of libraries, archives, and museums, including the Library of Congress, NASA, the Getty Research Institute, the Museum of Photographic Arts, the Biodiversity Heritage Library, and many more.
    • Creative Commons Search: A meta-search tool which can be used to find CC-licensed images on Google Images, Fotopedia, Europeana, etc., as well as other CC-licensed works.

Can I Use Google Images?

Sometimes Yes, sometimes No.

Copyright Statement from Google: “The images identified by the Google Image Search service may be protected by copyright. Although you can locate and access the images through our service, we cannot grant you any rights to use them for any purpose other than viewing them on the web. Accordingly, if you would like to use any images you have found through our service, we advise you to contact the site owner to obtain the requisite permissions.”

To use images retrieved through Google Images you must go to the original site so you can see if there is any notice prohibiting use.

You can also use the feature in Google Image Search that limits the search to only those images that can be freely used.

To look for Creative Commons licensed photographs you can filter from the “Search Tools” menu on the search results page, choose 'Usage rights' , and select one of the  'filtered for.......'. choices from the drop down menu.

What About Journal Articles From Library Research Databases

To use material from journals accessed through a Library Research Database you must abide by the terms of the license, which can vary from database to database.

To look up the permitted uses for a particular journal, search for the journal on the Journals page.  Permitted Uses will be shown beside each provider for that particular journal.

See the E-Resources Tab on the Library Copyright Guide for more details.

What Rights Do Students With Perceptual Disabilities Have?

Students with perceptual disabiltiies, including blind and visually impaired students and students with learning or physical disabiltiies can be provided with alternative formats such as audiobooks, Braille, & e-text, through production centres such as CAPER-BC (formerly CILS).

Students and educational institutions on behalf of students, may make a copy in an alternative format of a literary, dramatic, musical or artistic work (but not an audiovisual work) in a format designed for a person with a perceptual disability.

Translation, adaptation, and performance in public for the purpose of serving students with perceptual disabilities, as long as the work is not commercially available in that format, are permitted.

Note: making a large print book is not permissible without permission from the copyright holders.

What Can I Legally Copy?

You may copy materials for which you have the copyright holder's permission, either through a Creative Commons license or through written or spoken permission.

You may copy materials found in the Public Domain.

You may copy using the fair dealing exception in the Copyright Act. Fair Dealing allows you to make copies for yourself for the purposes of education, private study, research, review, criticism, parody, satire, or news reporting, so long as your dealing is fair.

All works copied must be legally obtained.

Are There Limits To How Much I Can Copy?

Under Fair Dealing you can copy and communicate in paper or digital format up to 10% of the work or:

  • one chapter from a book
  • one article from a journal issue
  • one article or page from a newspaper issue
  • one entry from a reference work (e.g. encyclopedia, dictionary)

Can be in the form of a class handout, email, or posting in Moodle

 Under Fair Dealing you can:

  • copy up to 10% of an audio or video work or one track from an album (as long as you are not breaking a TPM)
  • copy one image from a compilation (e.g book, atlas) or up to 10% of a stand-alone image (e.g. painting, poster, wall map). You cannot copy an entire stand-alone image.
  • copy a short excerpt of material found on the internet (short excerpt is determined by the type of material you find from the Internet)

Under Exceptions in the Copyright Act you can:

  • reproduce an entire textual work (book, journal article) or image for display in class if a copy in the required format is not readily commercially available

As A Student at KPU Can I......

Include copyrighted materials in my assignments and presentations? 

Generally yes. The fair dealing exception allows students to use works for research, private study, education, parody, satire, criticism, review and news reporting. So provided you are including the work for one of these purposes, and acknowledge the author and source of the material, and the use could be characterized as fair, bearing in mind the fair dealing factors, it will likely be covered by the fair dealing exception.

Play a video/DVD (legal copy only)  or project a streamed video in class?


 Link to an online video in my presentation?


Make handouts for other students in my class?

You can make copies of your own work to distribute or share with other students in your class.

You can display a work that is not your own for a presentation or discussion in class.

You can make copies of work that is not your own for a presentation or discussion in class, but the handouts can only be given to students in your class.

Perform a play on the premises of the institution?

Yes, under the following conditions:

  • it must be for educational or training purposes
  • It must not be for profit
  • It must take place before an audience consisting primarily of students of the educational institution, persons acting under its authority, or a person who is directly responsible for setting a curriculum for the educational institution
  • It must not involve a 'motive of gain'

An example is the performance of a play in a drama class.

Can I record my instructor’s lecture to watch later?

Instructors are the copyright owners of their lecture notes, PowerPoint presentations and exams, and thus control what can be done with their course materials. You may not record an entire lecture or copy entire lecture notes or exams without the prior permission of your instructor.

What Is Not Permissible?

Posting of copyright protected works to a publicly accessible website is not permissible.

Copying multiple short excerpts from the same copyright protected work is not permissible.

What About Student Portfolios?

Caution must be exercised if you are using copyright protected material in a student portfolio that may be displayed on a publicly accessible website. Many exceptions, such as Fair Dealing, are applicable for use in a classroom or on a course management system, but not when a work that contains copyright protected material is given wide distribution.