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If unsure that the copying is permissible consider the following:

  •  Obtain permission from the copyright owner. See the next tab for information on how to obtain permissions.
  •  Use material in the Public Domain or with a Creative Commons license. 
  •  Provide students with a citation (rather than a copy or link)
  •  Put original items (books, print journals) on Library Reserve for students to borrow. Click here for information on placing material on course reserve. Note: during COVID-19 Course Reserves are not available.
  • Link to existing materials whenever possible. Linking to copyright materials does not violate copyright--when you are linking you are not making a copy. For information on making links to articles in the Library Research Databases click here .
  • Reproduce the minimum amount of copyrighted work needed. Don't use more than one article from a single issue of a journal or more than one chapter from a book.
  • Contact your Copyright Team at


Note:  the Library's research databases contain hundreds of ebooks, and tens of thousands of  journal and newspaper articles.

When looking for material to use in your research, project or instruction why not give them a try first?

For instructions on how to make links from course websites to articles in Research Databases click here.

How Do I Request Permission?

Permission from copyright holders is often needed when creating course materials, research papers, and web sites. You need to obtain permission when you use a work in a way that infringes on the exclusive rights granted to a copyright holder if it falls outside the boundaries of fair dealing or other exceptions under the Copyright Act.

Steps that need to be followed to obtain permission to use copyrighted material:

  1. Determine if permission is needed for the work you want to use.
  2. Exceptions to the need to obtain permission include:   material that specifically states that it can be used freely, and material in the 'publc domain' (material where the creator has been dead for over 50 years or has donated the material to the public). This material still needs to be attributed to the  owner of the work (cited).
  3. Identify the copyright holder or agent.  You can usually obtain the Permissions contact email address on the Publisher’s website.
  4. Send written request for permission to use. Remember to give yourself ample lead time, as the process for obtaining permissions can take months. Decide if you are willing to pay a licensing fee/royalty.
  5. If the copyright holder can't be located or is unresponsive (or if you are unwilling to pay a license fee), be prepared to use a limited amount that qualifies for fair dealing, or use alternative material.

When you are making a request to copy remember to include all relevant information so that your request is not delayed. Clearly state that no changes will be made to the material and that acknowledgement to the author and rights holder will be given.

Always keep a copy of the permission request and the copyright holder’s response.

Your email to the copyright  holder should include:

  • Date of your request:
  • KPU
    Course Name:
    Course Code:
    Term Start & End Date:
    Date Material will be Needed:

    Source Title:
    ISBN, ISSN or URL (if applicable):
    Year Published:
    Page Range to be Copied:
    Chapter # & Title (if applicable):
  • Number of Copies to be made: 
  • Type of Copying (Digital on a password protected site) / Print for class handouts):
    For Classroom Educational Use (Yes/No):


Permission Letter Sample  

Why Should I Make Links?

When you link you are not making a copy.  It is good practice to provide your students with links to sites or articles.

Click here for instructions on linking to articles from Library Reseach Databases.

A. Use Material From the Public Domain

What is meant by ‘the public domain’? How do I know if something is public domain?
The term “public domain” refers to works in which copyright has expired or where the copyright owner has made a clear declaration that they will not assert copyright in the work. Generally they may be freely used.  In Canada copyright of a work usually exists for the life of the author, the remainder of the calendar year in which the author dies, and for 50 years following the end of that calendar year. After that time, the work becomes part of the public domain and may possibly be copied at will. For example, Shakespeare‟s plays are part of the public domain and anyone can produce or publish them. There are, however, exceptions to the general rule of the life of the author plus 50 years: if a work that was originally published more than 50 years ago is reproduced from a source published within the last 50 years, it must be cleared through that publisher. Also, in the case of photographs, cinematographs, and sound recordings, the term is 50 years from the making of the negative or master respectively.


 What are some public domain resources?

Project Gutenberg (Canada):  Archive of free ebooks of works that are in the public domain in Canada  

Project Gutenberg — Free electronic books (Ebooks or Etexts)

The Online Books Page — 25,000+ free books

New York Public Library's Digital Collection

Many public domain resources can be found on the web.   

Note: even with Royalty-Free/Educational Use check the terms of use for each resource, as some have restrictions (e.g. non-commercial, attribution) or terms may change without notice.

Click here for a great guide on the public domain produced by UBC


B. Use Material Licenced Under Creative Commons

What is Creative Commons?  Creative Commons is a nonprofit organization that enables the sharing and use of creativity and knowledge through free legal tools.  It allows copyright owners to provide users with varying degrees of access to their works.  The author of a book, for example, can put that book online under a Creative Commons licence that allows users to copy all or part of the book, even for commercial purposes.  There is a constantly growing body of useful works online that you can find by using the search feature on the Creative Commons website, or through various search engines--for example, by using Google's advanced search feature.

 Find out more about the Creative Commons

 Specific links:

Creative Commons Educational Resources

Creative Commons Video

Try the following link for a way to search for items that are under a creative commons licence.

When using a work under a Creative Commons licence you must attribute.  Click here for information on how to attribute.


C. Consider Open Education or Open Access Resources

Examples of Open Resources 

Open Access Publishing

Open Access Publishing, in which scholars make their work freely available online, means there are over 5,000 open access journals, representing about 205 of the world's peer reviewed journals. 

The online Directory of Open Access Journals provides users with a searchable database of scientific and scholarly journals that allow users to "read, download, copy, distribute, print, search, or link to the full texts of the articles they contain.  Through this directory, you have access to a range of research to help you in preparing your course.


Materials can be placed on reserve by instructors or by library staff to make limited resources available to as many students as possible. Each campus library has a small collection of reserve materials that could include books, videos/DVDs and photocopied articles.

The following content may be placed on Reserve and, unless there is a request to retain the materials on Reserve for the course offering the next semester, will be removed when the course ends:

•    Library-owned books and other materials.
•    Books from an instructor's collection.
•    Links to e-chapters and e-articles licenced by the Library. The Library provides access to millions of journal articles and hundreds of thousands of electronic books. 
•    Links to open access content, e.g. Internet Archive.
•    Links to content in the public domain.
•    Links to content with appropriate Creative Commons licences.
•    Photocopies of material for which the instructor holds copyright.   
•    Copyright–compliant photocopies of chapters of books or journal articles, limited to what is allowed under Fair Dealing or where permission has been obtained from the copyright holder.

Note: The use of library reserve must not substitute for the purchase of books, course packs or other published materials.

Photocopies should give the full source on the first page (e.g. author, title, journal title, publisher, date). You may be asked to supply copyright permission, depending on the article.

Reserves may be searched through the on-line Library Catalogue by course name or number or instructor's name. Reserves are located at the Checkout counter. Instructors please review your options for placing items on course reserve.

Electronic Reserves

E-Reserves (linking to full text articles)

You can permanently link to specific articles from your web page or from your course reserve area on our catalogue! The articles would be available to your students from any computer with an Internet connection.

Online linking to articles is available using 2 methods:

  1. Let the Library do it for you: The advantage: the library does the linking for you and will ensure the link is kept updated. You need to tell us which course and which article of course. The on-line article will be available through our catalogue in a list with your other reserve materials.
  2. Manage it yourself:
    Link to the article directly from your Moodle Course site. The advantage: you will be able to set up the access, therefore you can change the article, or add more articles, without involving the library. If you need the article link active immediately - you now have the option to do it yourself! The link would also be a direct link to the article rather than having to go through our catalogue. Instructions for Linking to Articles.

E-Reserves (scanned material)

Material can be scanned and made available through the Library's E-Reserve system. This material must be either copyright free or copyright cleared. These types of materials include:

  • Material for which you are the author/creator, including class and lecture notes, sample tests etc.