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Copyright: FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions

Copyright protection is automatic at the time a work is created and generally continues for 70 years after the author/creator’s death, though this can depend on the type of work. Literary, dramatic, artistic and musical works; sound recordings; performances; and communication signals are all covered under copyright. After copyright expires, the work enters the public domain and can be used freely without the need for permission or payment.

In Canada, there is no requirement that the work be registered or that the word "copyright," or the symbol ©, appear on the work in order to be protected under the law. The creator may, however, choose to register a work under a voluntary government registration system. Other countries may have different requirements in order to initiate copyright protection. The creator may also license their work through Creative Commons to allow for certain uses.

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 is a clear indication to the contrary or the author has been dead for at least 70 years.

UPDATE NOTE: The duration copyright exists moved from 50 years to 70 years on December 31, 2022. Any items that entered the public domain prior to this date remain in the public domain.

You'll need to double check. Not all database licenses provide the same usage rights. Database licenses supersede Fair Dealing and we must adhere to the license agreements.

To find out how material from a database may be used in or out of the classroom check our license lookup here: College Libraries Electronic Access Rights (CLEAR) or contact the library directly.

A work enters the public domain only after copyright expires, or if the creator has designated the work as such.

Material found on the Internet (charts, images, text, music, films) do not lose their protection under copyright law simply because they are posted on the Internet.

That being said, educators may copy, distribute, communicate, or perform, works found on the Internet, provided that:

  • The work is properly cited (e.g., source, author, performer, maker, and/or broadcaster)
  • The work is publicly available (e.g., access is not restricted or password-protected)
  • There is no clearly visible notice (not just the copyright symbol alone) prohibiting the intended use
  • And, it is apparent that the work was not made available in violation of the copyright owner’s rights

No. External sites have much wider distribution online then D2L which is password protected and only accessible to students enrolled in your course. Posting something externally would not be determined to be a "fair" use under the Fair Dealing Guidelines and likely is not covered by the licenses established by the Library for the College.

In most cases, the answer is "no". A Netflix account is password-protected, which would be considered a technological protection measure. So, although it is available on the Internet, the presence of the digital lock prevents using that exception. In addition, the Terms of Use and End User License Agreement through Netflix only permits personal and non-commercial use for the account holder and members of their immediate household.

As of February 2017, Netflix has granted permission for the educational screening of a limited number of specific films. For more information regarding a specific film contact Marcia Steeves.

No. Films shown within the college for "non-academic" purposes require that we secure permission from the copyright holder. Costs incurred in securing permissions is the responsibility of the group or department at this time. Contact the library to help obtain rights for public performances of materials outside the classroom.

If your intended use of copyright-protected material is not permitted by a license, or one of the exceptions outlined in the Copyright Act, you will need to ask for permission.

Permission must be obtained from the copyright owner. The first step is identifying the copyright holder or an organization that represents the owner, and requesting permission. In most cases you will be asked to identify the exact content and amount of content you wish to use, how you will use it and to whom you will be sharing this information with. Permission may or may not be granted, and it may take sometime in receiving a response. The permission if received should be in writing. It is not advisable to rely on verbal permission because there is no documentary evidence to prove what was agreed to between you and the copyright owner. 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.

A number of factors must be reviewed before a decision to use an article from a personally owned magazine is used:

  • How did you receive this magazine? Purchasing a magazine in a store is done for personal use, as is obtaining a magazine through a personal subscription. Subscriptions (or when you buy a magazine in a store) creates a contractual agreement between you and the publisher, which you are obligated to follow. In general most personal subscriptions do not include the ability to share articles, even if it is for educational use.
  • Is there a copyright statement within the magazine or specific to the article? Some articles run in magazines with permission granted by the writer for a one-time printing.


All of this information needs to be reviewed before sharing any article. In this instance, we would suggest that a similar article be looked for within the College's electronic databases, print periodicals or through the open resources listed under Copyright Friendly Resources.

Copyright only covers significant and unique creative expression fixed in a tangible medium.

A meme in its truest sense is just an idea. An idea is not fixed in a tangible medium and thus is not considered intellectual property under law and is not covered by copyright, trademark, or any other IP law.

However when we see memes created on the internet, the underlying image may potentially be covered by copyright in its own right.

Best practices would be to link directly to an existing meme, or consider creating your own with copyright friendly images.

Yes. The Copyright Act specifies that “every original literary, dramatic, musical and artistic work” is protected by copyright, and this includes student work. This means that your permission is required in order for an instructor to keep a copy to share it with future students.

A number of factors must be reviewed before linking to an existing web resource:

  • Who holds the rights? Websites are copyrighted much like and print resource, and you must consider the rights of the copyright holder even if the copyright symbol is not present and no visible notice is provided. Linking to the website content is almost always permissible provided the content itself is not infringing copyright.
  • If the copyright information is provided, the copyright holder's information should be disclosed with the link to the web content. This will avoid any potential confusion of who's material it is.
  • If you have any reason to believe the web content is potentially infringing on copyright, you should not link to it. Instead, if possible, link to the original source that holds the true rights to the information.
  • If the website clearly states that permission is required for sharing the content, permission must be sought and a record of the permission received must be kept for future reference.

Have a Question on Copyright?

Information provided in our guide can often be confusing and hard to interpret. If ever in doubt contact Marcia Steeves the College's Academic Integrity and Copyright Officer.

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