Introduction to Copyright
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about Copyright
- What does copyright cover?
- How do I know if something is protected by copyright?
- Is the author of a work always the copyright holder?
- Who owns the copyright in material I create as part of my work for Northern Lights College?
- What rights does a copyright owner have?
- What are the laws and rules relating to using copyright at Northern Lights College?
- What happens if I violate copyright laws?
- What is fair dealing and how does it relate to copyright?
- Does fair dealing cover teaching?
- How long does copyright last?
- What is meant by ‘the public domain’? How do I know if something is public domain?
- How does copyright work internationally?
- How do I get permission to use someone else’s work?
- What are moral rights and what do they have to do with copyright?
- Are there special rules for scanning?
- What are licences for electronic resources?
- What is a Creative Commons licence? Can I use material that has a Creative Commons licence in the classroom?
- What is “Open Access”? Can I use material from Open Access sources in the classroom?
- Is it okay to use images or other material from the Internet for educational purposes? Am I legally using images?
- Do I need to ask permission to link to a website?
- Who do I talk to at Northern Lights College if I have a copyright question?
- Is there anyone available to help me obtain copyright permission?
- How can I get more information about copyright?
- Copyright protects literary, artistic, dramatic and musical works, as well as sound recordings, performances and communication signals. This encompasses a wide range of things, ranging from books, articles, posters, manuals and graphs, to CDs, DVDs, software, databases and websites.
- Copyright protection arises automatically when any one of the above types of works is created and generally continues for 50 years after the author’s death, though this can depend on the type of work and where you want to use it. When you want to use a particular work in Canada, the safest approach is to assume that the work is protected by copyright, unless there’s a clear indication to the contrary or the author has been dead for at least 50 years.
- Most often the author of an article or book has assigned the copyright to a publisher. When the contract expires, copyright may revert to the author or her/his heirs or may be re-assigned to another publisher or person. It may take some sleuthing to find who actually owns the copyright. Sometimes an author will grant permission to use their work without realizing that they no longer have that right. Consult the Copyright Assistant who will research it and request permission if necessary.
- The Northern Lights College owns the copyright. Therefore, if you want to use your own work for another purpose, you must first obtain permission from the College.
- Copyright gives the copyright owner a number of legal rights, such as the right to copy and translate a work and the right to communicate a work to the public by telecommunication. These rights are qualified by certain exceptions which balance the copyright owner’s interests with the public interest in allowing use of works for purposes such as education and research.
- Use of copyright materials at Northern Lights College is covered by the Canadian Copyright Act and various agreements and licences entered into by the College with copyright owners and representative organizations. The Copyright Act is the legislation in Canada that sets out what you can and can’t do with other people’s copyright materials. In addition to this, the College has special agreements with copyright owners, such as subscriptions to electronic journals, which give you additional rights to certain content.
- In order to determine whether what you want to do is permissible, you need to check that you comply with any agreements or licences covering the work in question and/or the Copyright Act. You should ask yourself:
- Is the work in question covered by an agreement or licences that the College library has with publishers or a public licence such as a Creative Commons licence? If so, is what I want to do permissible under those agreements or licences?
- If not, is what I want to do covered by the Copyright Act, either under the educational exceptions or under the fair dealing exception?
- If you’re not covered by any agreement or licence or an exception under the Act, you’ll need to get permission for what you want to do from the copyright owner. (see #10 below)
- The person who made available the infringing material (usually the instructor) and the institution are both liable for any infringement. Fines for non-commercial copyright infringement are limited to a maximum of $5,000 per infringing item. Fines for commercial copyright infringement are capped at $20,000. In 2014, Access Copyright sued York University and four of its professors for infringement. The case will be heard by the Supreme Court of Canada in 2016. The Statement of Claim is available here: http://www.iposgoode.ca/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/Statement-of-Claim-T-578-13.pdf
Fair dealing is a user’s right in copyright law permitting use, or "dealing" with, a copyright-protected work without permission or payment of copyright royalties. The fair dealing exception in the Copyright Act allows you to use other people’s copyright material for the purpose of research, private study, criticism, review, news reporting, education, satire or parody provided that what you do with the work is "fair". Whether something is "fair" will depend on the circumstances. Courts will normally consider factors such as:
- the purpose of the dealing (Is it commercial or research / educational?)
- the amount of the dealing (How much was copied?)
- the character of the dealing (What was done with the work? Was it an isolated use or an ongoing, repetitive use? How widely was it distributed?)
- alternatives to the dealing (Was the work necessary for the end result? Could the purpose have been achieved without using the work?)
- the nature of the work (Is there a public interest in its dissemination? Was it previously unpublished?)
- the effect of the dealing on the original work (Does the use compete with the market of the original work?)
It is unnecessary that your use meet every one of these factors in order to be fair and no one factor is determinative by itself. In assessing whether your use is fair, a court would look at the factors as a whole to determine if, on balance, your use is fair. For more guidance on how to apply the fair dealing factors to your particular circumstances, please view the University of Waterloo's Fair Dealing flowchart.
If, having taken into account these considerations, the use can be characterized as "fair" and it was for the purpose of research, private study, criticism, review, news reporting, education, satire or parody then it will fall within the fair dealing exception and will not require permission from the copyright owner. In addition, if your purpose is criticism, review, news summary, or if you found the material on the internet, you must also mention the source where you found it and the author/creator of the work for it to be fair dealing. Best practice is always to include a full citation for the material you use, as well as the source. Note: for further clarity and additional information about limits on the amount and nature of copying permitted under fair dealing in certain contexts, please see the Fair Dealing Guidelines prepared by legal counsel for the Association of Canadian Community Colleges (ACCC).
- Please note as well; it’s important to distinguish "fair dealing" from "fair use". The fair use exception in U.S. copyright law is NOT the equivalent of fair dealing in Canadian law. The wording of the two exceptions is different. It is important to make sure that you consider the Canadian law and aren’t relying on U.S. information.
- Yes. While fair dealing doesn't specifically mention teaching it does mention education. The Supreme Court of Canada has also ruled that a teacher may make copies of short excerpts of copyright-protected works and distribute them to students as part of classroom instruction without prior request from the student under the fair dealing exception. (See the ACCC Fair Dealing Guidelines in the Tools Tab).
- How long copyright lasts depends on which country you are in. In Canada, copyright generally lasts for the life of the author, plus 50 years. By contrast, in the U.S. and Europe, copyright generally lasts for the life of the author plus 70 years, though it can differ depending on factors such as the type of work, the manner of publication and the date of creation. Use of a work in Canada is governed by the Canadian rules for the duration of copyright protection.
The term "public domain" refers to works in which copyright has expired.
- For example, although the copyright in Shakespeare's plays expired long ago, many of the published editions of his plays contain added original materials (such as footnotes, prefaces etc.) which are copyright protected because the authors have used skill and judgment in creating the new material. This creates a new copyright in the added original material, but not in the underlying text of the original work in which the copyright had expired.
- Never assume that everything you find on the internet is in the public domain just because it is publicly available. Most of the material you find online is protected by copyright; however, you may nonetheless be able to use it for educational purposes because many uses will be covered by fair dealing or the exception for educational use of material publicly available through the Internet. See #16 below for further information about using material found on websites.
- Note: Some copyright owners have made clear declarations that certain uses of their copyright works may be made without permission or payment. The Reproduction of Federal Law Order, for example, permits anyone, without charge or request for permission, to reproduce Canadian laws and decisions of federally-constituted courts and administrative tribunals in Canada.
- Copyright is recognized internationally thanks to international conventions. So, generally, your copyright will be protected in other countries. But it is protected under that country’s laws so there may be some differences from the level of protection you would get in Canada. If you’re concerned about someone’s use of your work overseas, you will need to check the particular jurisdiction’s copyright laws to confirm whether they are infringing your copyright.
- If your use isn’t permitted by a licence, or one of the exceptions in the Copyright Act, you will need to ask for permission. The permission must come from the copyright owner so the first step is to identify who the copyright owner is and whether there is an organization that represents the owner. There are a number of copyright collectives that can give you permission (in the form of a licence) on behalf of the copyright owner to use their work. So, for example, if you want to use music and your use doesn’t fall within any of the Copyright Act’s exceptions, you may be able to obtain permission from copyright collectives such as the Society of Composers, Authors and Music Publishers of Canada (SOCAN), Canadian Musical Reproduction Rights Agency (CMRRA) or Re:Sound that administer copyright in music.
- But if the copyright owner is easily identifiable and locatable, it can sometimes be easier to contact them directly as many copyright owners will give permission to academic users without requiring payment. Usually you’ll be able to identify the owner somewhere on the work by looking for the copyright symbol ©, which should have the copyright owner’s name next to it. You’ll often find this at the beginning of a book, at the side of a photograph or at the bottom of a webpage. Once you’ve located the owner, simply email or write to him/her, explaining how and why you want to use the work and requesting permission. The permission should be in writing. An email will suffice. It is not advisable to rely on verbal permission. You should also keep a file record of who gave the permission, what was permitted, the date, and how to contact the person who gave the permission. Send a copy of this information to David Leggett, Library Assistant - Copyright to file.
- Moral rights are additional rights held by authors of literary, dramatic, musical and artistic works. They consist of rights that protect the integrity of a work and the reputation of its author. The right of attribution is the right to always be identified as the author of a work or to remain anonymous. The right of integrity is the right not to have a work modified or associated with goods or services in a way that is prejudicial to the author’s reputation. These rights are important for authors to ensure they get appropriate recognition for their works and for prohibiting any prejudicial changes to their works.
- If you want to scan something, you may do so only if the use falls within one of the exceptions in the Copyright Act, such as fair dealing, or where no permission is required, such as scanning a public domain work. If you want to scan a work that is still in copyright and add it to a website you need to be sure that the website is password protected, e.g. D2L, and restricted to students enrolled in your course. If what you want to do falls outside the exceptions and is not in the public domain, you will need to get the copyright owner’s permission. See also question 10.
- The NLC Library has contracts with a variety of vendors and publishers that provide the campus with thousands of electronic resources (databases, e-journals, e-books, etc.) costing tens of thousands of dollars per year.
- In addition to paying for these resources, the Library negotiates licence agreements that stipulate how and by whom a given resource may be used. Users must be currently registered faculty, students, or staff. Only these individuals will be registered with the proxy server for off-campus access. Access for the general public is made available through terminals within the Library.
- If licence terms are violated by anyone, licensors may temporarily suspend access for the entire College community. In cases where a resolution cannot be reached, the vendor may have the right to permanently revoke a licence and access to the resource.
- You can help prevent such problems by adhering to good practices and avoiding improper use. Here are some rules of thumb.
- making a limited number of print or electronic copies for your personal use
- using materials for personal, instructional or research needs
- sharing with NLC faculty, staff and students
- posting links to specific content
- systematic or substantial printing, copying or downloading (such as entire journal issues)
- selling or re-distributing content, or providing access to someone outside of the college community, such as an employer
- sharing with people other than registered NLC faculty, staff and students
- posting actual content or articles to third party web sites or listservs
- modifying or altering the contents of licensed resources in any way
- Check the end of an article for a statement that may restrict use, e.g., “Copyright of … is the property of … and its content may not be copied or emailed to multiple sites or posted to a listserv without the copyright holder’s express written permission. However, users may print, download, or email articles for individual use.
Always acknowledge your source on any published or unpublished document when you use data found on electronic resources.
- Grey areas: Some licence agreements make express allowances for electronic reserves, course packs, multiple copies for classroom use and interlibrary lending. Other licences may prohibit one or more of these activities. If you have questions about a particular resource, please contact David Leggett, Library Assistant – Copyright.
- Open Access works are published under a Creative Commons licence and distributed free of charge to the public. They provide immediate access to original work that may be reused, copied, and distributed as long as the author and source are cited. There has been a lot of controversy over the reputability of some Open Access publishers, so check the authority of the web publisher before using material.
Are You Legally Using Images?
We are all using images more than ever, whether in our presentations, blog, or on FaceBook, but how often are we considering whether we need permission to use those images? Below are 6 essential considerations prior to using any photographs, tables, illustrations and other images.
6 Tips for Legally Using Images
1. Start with the assumption that all images are protected by copyright. This includes images that are found through a Google search. See Copyright Law + Using Photos and Images from Google.
2. Copyright-wise, it is always less risky to link to a photo or other image than it is to copy and paste that image onto your website or social media platform.
3. When possible, use photos that you have taken yourself. Unless you are employed and are taking photos as part of your job, you own the copyright in your own photos. (Don't forget to obtain a model release from any persons in your photographs. This is not a copyright issue but is a privacy/publicity issue.)
4. Use and re-use images which have a Creative Commons (CC) license. However, be aware that a CC license is just that: a license. You will need to read the terms and conditions of the license and see what is allowed or not. Not all CC licenses allow the same uses. A CC license may allow use as-is, or in a remix or as part of a new work, and in most cases requires attribution of the copyright owner.
5. Purchase images from stock photo agencies and follow the license terms; you are not outright buying the image from a stock agency but are paying for certain uses of the image. Read the specific terms and conditions (to which supposedly you have agreed.) For example, you may be able to post the image on your website but you may require additional permission (and make additional payment) to use the image on the front cover of a print book.
6. When you seek permission from the copyright owner of an image, always ask first if they actually own the copyright in the image. The image's creator may have assigned their rights to someone else, or the photographs or other images may have been created at work as part of their work duties. In these latter cases, the photographers or other image creators do not have the right to provide you with permission to the use their work.
- Content on the web is copyrighted in the same way as print and other formats, even if there is no copyright symbol or notice. Linking directly to the web page containing the content you wish to use is almost always permissible, although you need to make sure the content you are linking to is not in itself infringing copyright. In addition, if the web page does not clearly identify the website and content owner, you should also include the full details of the author, copyright owner, and source of the materials by the link. This will avoid any suggestion that the website is your own material.
- Contact David Leggett, Library Assistant - Copyright.
- David Leggett, your Library Assistant - Copyright, obtains permissions for materials posted in D2L and print copies used in the classroom. He will also pay any royalties assessed and will keep records of transactions. For material that requires permission and payment, the request for permission must be submitted each time the course in which it is used is offered.
- To create print course packs, please contact one of the NLC bookstores or Canadian Scholars’ Press Inc.. Many textbook publishers now also create custom packages for courses.
Some key NLC resources are:
- The copyright information found in the "Instructors" and "Students" tab headings of this guide
- ACCC Fair Dealing Guidelines
- ACCC Student Copying Poster
There are many other websites with information about copyright. Some include:
|Canadian Association of Research Libraries|
|Canadian Copyright Act|
|Canadian Copyright Board’s list of copyright collective societies|
|Canadian Intellectual Property Office|
|World Intellectual Property Organization|
For more information about Copyright, see the Government of Canada’s A Guide to Copyright.
© Northern Lights College is licenced under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 2.5 Canada Licence.