- What is copyright? What rights does it grant the copyright owner?
- What does copyright apply to?
- How long does copyright last?
- How do I know if something is protected by copyright?
- What is not subject to copyright?
- What does "copyrighted work" and "public domain" mean?
- What is copyright infringement?
- Is the copyright owner the same person as the author of a work?
- Who owns the copyright in an article written by several authors?
- What is fair dealing and how does it relate to copyright?
- Does fair dealing include teaching?
- What are licences for electronic resources?
- How do I lawfully use someone else's work?
- Are there special rules for scanning?
- Who do I talk to at Carleton if I have a copyright question?
- Is there anyone available to help me obtain copyright permission?
When any person creates an original "work", the law of copyright automatically governs who has the right to copy, produce, perform, publish, adapt, translate or telecommunicate that work.
The term "work" means any literary, artistic, dramatic or musical work, including papers, reports, graphs, charts, photographs, films, songs, drawings, plans, computer programs etc. It also means a translation of a work, a compilation of others' works, a recording of any kind, and a performance of a work.
Generally, the author of the work is the copyright owner. This gives them the right to control if and how the work will be copied, performed, translated etc.
The rights of the copyright owner, however, are subject to certain user rights, which permit people to copy, perform etc. works in certain limited circumstances, without the copyright owner's knowledge or permission.
Copyright is created and governed by the Canadian Copyright Act and Canadian court decisions. Canada is a party to various international copyright treaties, which have been implemented by the Copyright Act, and which influence court decisions.
Copyright applies to a wide range of works, including published and unpublished books, articles, photographs, charts, manuals and graphs, to CDs, DVDs, software, and the contents of databases and websites.
Copyright applies once a work is put into a fixed form (e.g. written down on paper, saved on a computer, recorded, videotaped, or painted on canvas) except for a sound recording, performer's performance or communication signal (which may be transmitted instead of fixed). The work does not have to be in its final form – copyright applies to drafts too.
In Canada, a work is protected by copyright automatically when created and the protection continues for 50 years after the creator's death.
When you want to use a particular work, assume that the work is protected by copyright, unless there is a clear indication to the contrary or the creator has been dead for at least 50 years.
Under Canadian copyright law, the work does not need to be registered and the symbol © is not required to appear on the work. There is no need to have any reference to copyright protection on the work itself. Other countries have different copyright laws and regulations but most countries offer similar protection in line with the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) treaties and conventions.
Generally, facts and ideas are not subject to copyright. The laws of thermodynamics, the plotline for a story, or an idea for a new line of research, are not copyrightable; but the text, story-board or research proposal that sets out your particular expression of those ideas, are subject to copyright.
The rights of copyright owners expire after a set time (generally 50 years after the death of the creator). A "copyrighted work" means a work for which the exclusive copyright has not expired and has not been waived;
Copyright owners can also waive (or give up) their copyright, making their works available for anyone to use, free, and without permission. A work in the "public domain" means a work for which the copyright has expired or been waived.
For example, copyright in Shakespeare's plays expired long ago and therefore, Shakespeare's plays are in the public domain. However, not all the published editions of his plays are in the public domain. Many contain added original materials (such as annotations, translations, footnotes, prefaces etc.) that are copyright protected.
If you have questions about whether something is in the public domain, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
A person who does something with a copyrighted work that only the copyright owner is entitled to do, and does so without the permission of the copyright owner, infringes the copyright of the owner.
Both the person who performs the infringing act and the person who authorizes the infringing act can be held liable for infringement. For example, if a patron asks a copy shop to make an unauthorized copy of a book, the patron may be liable for authorizing the copy, and the copy shop may be liable for making the copy.
Civil and criminal penalties can be imposed for copyright infringement. Criminal sanctions can include fines and/or imprisonment and depend on the seriousness of the infringement. Civil sanctions include an order to pay damages and an injunction to prevent continued infringement. Criminal penalties are usually reserved for those engaged in piracy for profit. Civil sanctions are the most common form of penalty for copyright infringement.
Not always. The author (or creator) is generally the first owner of the copyright. It is common for an author to assign (or give) their copyright to the publisher of a journal in exchange for publication. This can mean that the author loses the right to handout copies of the paper they wrote, or post them on institutional repositories.
Pay close attention to the agreements you sign with a publisher and be aware of what rights you are giving up and what rights you retain. Contact the Scholarly Communications Librarian, Pat.Moore@carleton.ca for more information.
All the authors share the copyright as co-authors and must agree on how to use it.
Fair dealing is a user right contained in the Copyright Act. Fair dealing allows you to copy from a copyrighted work, without the copyright owner's permission, if:
- the copy is for one these purposes: research, private study, education, parody, satire, criticism, review or news reporting; and
- your dealing (use) is fair.
Neither the Copyright Act, nor the decisions of the courts interpreting fair dealing set out exactly what is fair in any particular instance. Rather, to determine whether a particular copy qualifies as a fair dealing, one must consider all of the relevant factors, including the following:
- the purpose of the proposed copying, including whether it is for research, private study, education, parody or satire, criticism, review or news reporting;
- 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;
- 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;
- alternatives to copying the work, including whether there is a non-copyrighted equivalent available;
- the nature of the work, including whether it is published or unpublished; and
- the effect of the copying on the work, including whether the copy will compete with the commercial market of the original work.
Having considered all of the relevant factors, Carleton has prepared a Fair Dealing Policy to provide direction as to how fair dealing applies to certain copying at Carleton, and to provide reasonable safeguards for the copyright holders of copyright-protected works, in accordance with Canadian copyright law. Please contact email@example.com for guidance.
The fair dealing exception was expanded in November 2012 to include "education" as permitted purpose. Education, of course, includes teaching. Also, in 2012, the Supreme Court of Canada concluded that teaching was within the "research or private study" for fair dealing purposes. In that case, the issue was the copying of short excerpts by teachers for class handouts. The Court recognized that teachers "are there to facilitate the students' research and private study", that teachers cannot "be characterized as having the completely separate purpose of 'instruction'", and that the teachers' purpose in providing copies to students is "to enable the students to have the material they need for the purpose of studying." The Court characterized teachers as sharing a "symbiotic purpose with the student/user who is engaging in research or private study." On this basis, the Court decided that the fair dealing exception allows teachers to make copies of short excerpts of copyrighted works and distribute them to students as part of classroom instruction, without a prior request from a student, subject to appropriate conditions, which Carleton has set out in its Fair Dealing Policy.
A license is an agreement where the owner of something grants another person permission to use that thing. In the copyright context, licenses are agreements where the copyright owner permits others to use their copyrighted materials. Some licenses grant a wide range of rights, and some only grant a narrow range.
The Carleton Library negotiates licenses with a variety of vendors and publishers, and these licenses provide access to millions of electronic resources (databases, e-journals, e-books, etc.) to Carleton faculty, staff and students.
Each vendor and publisher sets use restrictions on their materials. Therefore, it is not possible to make general statements about the uses of electronic resources—rather, it is necessary to check the terms of the particular resource you are accessing. The Carleton License Information Database of electronic resources at http://carleton.scholarsportal.info/licenses/, summarizes the permissions granted by each electronic resources license.
If the terms of an electronic resources license are violated by anyone, publishers may temporarily suspend access for the entire Carleton community. In cases where a resolution cannot be reached, the publisher may cancel the license or impose additional restrictions.
If you have questions about a particular electronic resource or Carleton digital license, please contact Copyright@Carleton.ca
There are several ways to use a copyrighted work. If you are faculty, using the material for a course, see Copyright and Teaching.
If it is not for teaching then determine whether Carleton has already secured permission on your behalf. Carleton has entered into hundreds of licenses that permit faculty, staff and students to access digital materials. For more information about Carleton’s digital licenses, go here.
Depending on the specifics of your situation, your use may be permitted by the Copyright Act, without needing the copyright owner’s permission. Or you may need to seek permission. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for guidance.
No, scanning a copyrighted work is subject to the same rules as photocopying a work or posting a work onto a learning management system.
Start with Copyright@carleton.ca and if necessary we will redirect you if required.
Yes. The Library Reserves service obtains and tracks course-related copyright permissions and transactional licenses for faculty and instructors. The Print Shop obtains copyright permissions for printed course packs. If the copyright owner agrees to the request, the permission to copy the work will generally come by way of a one-off license agreement between Carleton and the copyright owner (also known as a transactional clearance). There is no obligation for the copyright holder to provide consent and the copyright holder may require payment of a transactional license fee or decide not to provide consent. Carleton University has allocated resources for the payment of transactional fees though in rare circumstances the resources may not cover their entire cost. For Course packs, the license fees are included in the cost of the pack to the student.
For other uses, you may obtain permission yourself by simply emailing or writing a letter to the copyright owner. Contact email@example.com for assistance.
Text for several of the above FAQs was originally adapted from UBC’s Copyright FAQs licensed under Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike 4.0 International Licence