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Copyright: Images

Use of Memes

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 memes created on the internet include attaching the "idea" to an image to convey the message. This then may indeed be covered by copyright as it is "fixed". Caution should be noted as the underlying image may potentially be covered by copyright in its own right, and the meme creator may or may not have had the rights to use.

Best practices include:

  • know your source and cite it
  • consider the underlying picture, did the meme creator have rights to use it?
  • create your own using your own images

Tables, Figures and Images

Images may include figures, illustrations, photographs and excerpts taken from textbooks, web sites, journals, or other published works.

You may include another person’s work, including images, in your handouts, PowerPoint presentations that you display to students enrolled in your course.  Under the Fair Dealing Guidelines you can copy/display an entire single image from a collection of images (e.g. a single photograph from a book of photographs). You may also share these image in D2L with the students enrolled in your program.

Also, under an exemption in the Copyright Act for display for purposes of instruction, you could display an entire image that is not part of a larger collection of images. To do so you must ensure that there is not a commercially available copy (obtainable within a reasonable time and price) in the format required (S29.4 of Copyright Act).

For coursepacks, you must follow the coursepack information and work with the bookstore.

Trademarks & Logos

The use of Trademarks and Logos should be limited to educational use in the classroom and as such should meet the requirements as set out under the Fair Dealing Guidelines. Caution should be given to situations where the use of a registered Trademark of Logo could be seen as an implied endorsement or an imitation of an existing brand, as these uses could be viewed as a violation of trademark law.

Working with Images

Canadian Copyright allows for the use of works that are publicly available on the Internet, because of this you may use online content, like images, in your documents, videos and/or presentations provided you give acknowledgement to the source and content creator.

You must also be sure that the work if not protected by a technological protection measure (password protected access) or is accompanied by a clearly visible copyright notice that prohibits its use. In some cases an image may be posted without the consent of the copyright owner, in which case it should not be used unless you can identify the copyright owner.

To assist in finding images you can use, try some of the tips below:

Google's Advanced Image Search takes some of the guess work out of your image searches. Simply enter your keywords and choose 'free to use and share' from the usage rights menu. This will pre-select images that you can use for educational and non-commercial purposes - provided you acknowledge the source and creator (cite).


If you find an image on the internet that you really want to use, you can use either of the following sites to do a 'Reverse Look-up' of the image to ensure that it is complaint with copyright requirements.

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