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Copyright Guidelines

Ontario Tech University respects both the rights of creators and owners of copyright-protected materials and the rights of users to make certain uses of copyright-protected materials.

Faculty, staff, and students are subject to the protections and obligations outlined in the Copyright Act .

Use of copyright-protected material is also subject to the provisions outlined in various agreements and licenses the University has with other copyright owners (for example, online databases or other electronic resources).

Generally, you must seek permission from the copyright owner before you make protected uses of their work unless:

  • the work is in the public domain, such as when the term of the copyright protection under the  Copyright Acthas expired (usually the life of the author plus 50 years);
  • the university already has permission under an existing licence or agreement;
  • the work is licensed for the applicable use by a Creative Commons licence or other form of public licence;
  • the use is not a substantial part of the work. Under section 3(1) of the Copyright Act, copyright means the sole right to reproduce or perform the work “or a substantial part thereof”. A “substantial part” is a matter of degree and context, decided not just by its quantity but its quality;
  • the use qualifies as fair dealing under sections 29, 29.1, and 29.2 of the Copyright Act; or
  • the use falls within a specific exception set out in the Copyright Act.

Members of the University community are responsible for informing themselves about the parameters of both Canada’s  Copyright Act and the institution’s licenses and agreements. They must also ensure that any copying completed in connection with University activities complies with these guidelines.

The Library’s Copyright team is an important resource. We can help you determine whether the University already has an existing licence or agreement that covers your intended use. The Library’s Copyright experts can also work with you to secure appropriate permissions and answer any questions you may have about fair dealing and these guidelines:

Fair Dealing Guidelines

The Copyright Act protects a wide range of original literary, dramatic, musical, and artistic works and other subject matter (performers’ performances, sound recordings, and communication signals).

As set out in the Copyright Act, “copyright”, in relation to a work, means the sole right to produce or reproduce the work or any substantial part of it in any material form, to perform the work or any substantial part of it in public and, if the work is unpublished, to publish the work or any substantial part of it. Copyright also extends to adaptation, translation, and communication to the public by telecommunication, including by making a work available in a way that allows individual members of the public to access it on demand. For further details please refer to the  Copyright Act.   

The use of copyright-protected works generally requires permission from the copyright owner unless one of the exceptions in the  Copyright Act applies. While the  Copyright Act contains other exceptions that might apply, “fair dealing” is an important provision within an educational context. The Supreme Court of Canada has acknowledged that fair dealing guidelines are important to an educational institution’s ability to actualize fair dealing for its students, faculty and staff.

To qualify as fair dealing, two tests must be passed:

  1. The dealing must be for an allowable purpose stated in the  Copyright Act: Research, private study, criticism, review, news reporting, education, satire or parody. The use of a copyright-protected work for educational activities in the classroom or within the University’s Canvas learning management system will generally pass the first test.
  2. The dealing must also be “fair”. In landmark decisions made by the Supreme Court of Canada, six non-exhaustive factors were outlined that help to determine whether or not the dealing is fair:
    • Purpose of the dealing
    • Character of the dealing
    • Amount of the dealing
    • Nature of the work
    • Available alternatives to the dealing
    • Effect of the dealing on the work

The relevance of the factors may vary depending on the surrounding circumstances.

The purpose of the following guidelines is to actualize fair dealing for the members of the University community in a fair manner. The following guidelines provide reasonable safeguards for the owners of copyright-protected works in accordance with the  Copyright Act and the Supreme Court decisions.

These guidelines assume that the user intends to use a copyright-protected work in the context of an educational activity; a University licence does not cover the intended use of the work; and the intended use is a substantial part of the work. These guidelines only deal with situations where fair dealing is relevant.

  1. University teachers, instructors, professors, staff members and students may communicate and reproduce, in paper or electronic form, short excerpts (as defined below) from a copyright-protected work for the purposes of research, private study, criticism, review, news reporting, education, satire or parody, if the dealing is fair.
  2. Copying or communicating of short excerpts from a copyright-protected work under these Fair Dealing Guidelines for the purpose of news reporting, criticism or review must mention the source and, if given in the source, the name of the author or creator of the work.
  3. A single copy of a “short excerpt” from a copyright-protected work may be provided or communicated to each student enrolled in a class or course:
    • as a class handout
    • as a posting to a learning or course management system that is password protected or otherwise restricted to students of the university
    • as part of a course pack

The following amounts may generally be considered short excerpts:

  • up to 10% of a copyright-protected work (which includes a literary work, musical score, sound recording, and an audiovisual work)
  • one chapter from a book
  • a single article from a periodical
  • an entire artistic work (including a painting, print, photograph, diagram, drawing, map, chart, and plan) from a copyright-protected work containing other artistic works
  • an entire newspaper article or page
  • an entire single poem or musical score from a copyright-protected work containing other poem or musical scores
  • an entire entry from an encyclopedia, annotated bibliography, dictionary or similar reference work,
  • provided that in each case, the excerpt contains no more of the work than is required to achieve the allowable purpose.

Whether the use of a particular short excerpt is fair will depend on the circumstances and application of the fair dealing factors. When assessing a “short excerpt”, the quantity and the qualitative importance of the portion used should be considered.   

  1. Copying or communicating multiple short excerpts from the same copyright-protected work with the result of copying or communicating substantially the entire work is prohibited.
  2. Any fee charged by the University for communicating or copying a short excerpt from a copyright-protected work must be intended to cover only the costs of the University, including overhead costs.

There are other exceptions, such as user-generated content, which may be relevant should fair dealing not apply or in combination with fair dealing. You can learn more about these exceptions on the Ontario Tech Copyright Guide.

If you have questions about the guidelines, a request that falls outside of these guidelines, or need further assistance, please contact

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