Copyright basics

Find general questions about copyright. Including what's covered, how long it lasts, and how to get permission. Also questions about international copyright.

Using copyrighted materials

When does copyright expire and how can I use copyrighted works at Bow Valley College?

Copyright and Library resources

How copyright and library resources work together.

Copyright and course packs

How to use copyrighted works that are included in course packs that will be sold though the bookstore.

Copyright contacts and resources

Who is available to help with copyright questions at Bow Valley College and where to find additional resources?

Copyright Basic Questions

Copyright is a Federal Government law. It legislates how original literary, dramatic, musical and artistic works are protected. It is the exclusive legal right to produce, reproduce, publish or perform a work. The creator of the work is usually the copyright owner. Unless there is an agreement stating otherwise. For example: an employer may have the copyright in the works created by their employees. It includes the rights of the creators and rights for those who want to use these types of works

Copyright protects literary, artistic, dramatic and musical works. Also sound recordings, performances and communication signals. This includes a wide range of items. From books, articles, posters, manuals and graphs, to CDs, DVDs, software, databases and websites. Quality or value of the item doesn't matter.

Copyright protection is automatic when a literary or artistic work is created. It generally continues for 50 years after the end of the year of the author’s death. (Music is 70 years after the end of the year of the author’s death). When you want to use a work in Canada, the safest approach is to assume that the work is protected by copyright. Unless there’s a clear indication that the work is published with a Creative Commons License.

In Canada, copyright lasts for the life of the author, the rest of the calendar year, and for 50 years following the end of that calendar year. In other words, protection expires on December 31 of the 50th year after the author dies. At that point it is in the "Public Domain". There are some exceptions. For more information, see the Canadian Government, A Guide to Copyright

Copyright gives the copyright owner many legal rights. Including: the right to copy, translate a work, and the right to charge to use the material.

The Copyright Act provides some user rights within the Act.  These are known as Fair Dealing exceptions. They allow some times when materials can be used without asking for permission. For more information, see our Fair Dealing Guidelines.

Copyright is recognized around the world, thanks to international conventions. Your copyright will be protected in other countries the same as it is in Canada. Although it is protected under that country’s laws so there may be some differences.

Moral rights are held by authors of literary, dramatic, musical and artistic works. They are 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. Integrity is the right not to have a work changed or linked with goods or services in a way that harms the author’s reputation. These rights are important for authors. They get recognized for their works and stop any harmful changes to their works.

Using Copyrighted Materials Questions

Public domain means works where copyright has expired. Or a copyright owner can decide that the public can use their work without permission or payment. These works are now in the Public Domain. Works in the public domain can be used free of charge and do not need permission from the author/creator.

To decide if a work is in the Public Domain, first see if there is a clear statement that placed the work in the public domain. Then you follow the Canadian Public Domain Flowchart. The UBC Public Domain Guidelines are very helpful. These will help you decide if copyright has expired.

For example:
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.). This added material is copyright protected. The authors have used skill and judgment in creating the new material. This creates a new copyright in the added material. But not in the original plays where copyright had expired.


The Fair dealing exception is a user’s right in the Copyright Act. It lets you use a copyright-protected work without permission or payment of copyright royalties. Provided your use is "Fair". It must be for the purpose of research, private study, criticism, review, news reporting, education, satire or parody.  Whether something is "fair" will depend on the circumstances. Courts will consider factors such as: 

a.  the purpose of the dealing (Is it commercial or research / educational?) 
b.  the amount of the dealing (How much was copied?) 
c.  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?) 
d.  alternatives to the dealing (Was the work necessary for the end result? Could the purpose have been achieved without using the work?) 
e.  the nature of the work (Is there a public interest in its dissemination? Was it previously unpublished?) 
f.  the effect of the dealing on the original work (Does the use compete with the market of the original work?)  

It is not necessary that your use meet every one of these factors to be fair. No one factor is a deciding factor by itself. In assessing whether your use is fair, a court would look at the factors as a whole to determine if, your use is fair. For more information, see our Fair Dealing Guidelines . The Copyright Evaluator is an online tool that can help you apply fair dealing.

The College's Copyright Policy and Guidelines are on MyCampus, Policy #500-1-3. They are based on the Copyright Act and the Fair Dealing Guidelines. The policy must be followed by all faculty, staff, students, contractors and volunteers. It sets guidelines for how copyrighted works can are used at the College. It also covers how we license and get copyright permissions.

Yes. Fair dealing doesn't mention teaching it does mention education. The Supreme Court of Canada ruled that a teacher may make copies of short excerpts of copyright-protected works. They can distribute them to students as part of classroom instruction under the fair dealing. The Copyright website has resources for you. See Copyright for Faculty, for details about what may be as copied as fair dealing by instructors. Finding Teaching Resources has many materials for your use. Also see our Fair Dealing page. 

Check to see if the work is in the Public Domain.
Check to see if it falls under the Fair Dealing Guidelines.
Check to see if it is covered by a license held by the College.
The Copyright Permission Chart will help walk you through all these steps.

If you need copyright permission, submit your request to the Copyright Office using the Copyright Evaluator. If you have more questions, contact the Copyright Office

Instructional materials can include many types of resources. Course readings, slides and presentations, instructor notes, manuals, guides, test banks, case studies, images and videos are often added to courses. You may want to include copyright content into your resources. Our Instructional Materials Guide can give you tips on how to use copyrighted materials in your courses.


Yes. The Fair Dealing Guidelines permits the copying of an entire journal article. Copies may be handed out to the students enrolled in your course or you may scan and post a copy of the article to D2L.
You will need to review the licensing agreement for that resource before posting it. They usually found at the bottom of the article.
Whenever possible, provide a direct persistent link. This allows the student to login to authenticate and access the library resource. This is the best way to ensure stable access to the most recent version of the resource. It also allows the LLC to track usage patterns. That provides the LLC data about the type of resources that are important to the College and course curriculum. If a license does not permit posted to D2L, contact either the Copyright Office or the LLC Librarians.

As long as you follow Fair Dealing Guidelines, you may scan and post it on D2L. It’s important to note that fair dealing does not allow you to scan and post material to a website unless that website is password protected (e.g. D2L). And restricted to students enrolled in your course. If you want to scan a copyright protected work for posting on a public website, you will need to get permission from the right’s holder. Send your request by using the Copyright Evaluator

Yes! The Copyright Act allows you to play a sound recording or live radio broadcasts in class. As long as it is for educational purposes, not for profit, on College premises, and before an audience of mainly students. 
If you want to use music for non-educational purposes, i.e., background music in a public area, fashion show or flash mobs, a licence must be obtained. Send your request by using the Copyright Evaluator.

Yes, you may play videos/films works in class in the following circumstances:

  • the work is not an infringing copy,
  • the film or work is a legal copy,
  • and you do not circumvent any digital locks.

This does not cover posting films online. If you want so show a film online send a request by using the Copyright Evaluator


Yes. Under the Copyright Act, educational institutions may copy television news programs or news commentaries and play them in class.

You may play YouTube videos in class and post a link online. First you must determine that the work is not an infringing copy. You may want to go to a YouTube channel for the official video. Ensure that there are no digital locks protecting the video and that the content of the video does not violate any copyright owners rights. If you have questions, send your request through the Copyright Evaluator


Generally yes. Students can apply the Fair Dealing Guidelines before using copyrighted works. Students can use the student side of the Copyright Evaluator to help them apply Fair Dealing.



Yes. There are many resources that are either in the public domain, Open Educational Resources (OER), Open Access (OA) or available under Creative Commons (CC) licenses. That generally means the work is available for free, subject to certain limited conditions. Such as non-commercial use only and acknowledgment of the author.

See the Creative Commons website for more information and see their content directories. They include: audio, video, image and text materials available under Creative Commons licensing. The RGO LLC has a listing of OER, OA and CC resources. The RGO LLC Databases provide instructors with access to many resources that are licensed. For other online materials, a recommended best practice is to check the website's Terms of Use", or "Legal Notices" section. This will to state what conditions apply to use of the website's material. Often you may be able to use the material for free for non-commercial and educational purposes.

It depends on what you want to do. Materials on the internet are treated the same under copyright law as any other copyright materials. To use them, they have to fall within one of the Copyright Act's exceptions. Such as fair dealing or the educational use of the Internet exception). Or be open access or in the public domain. If what you want to use isn't from an open access or public domain source and does not fall into one of the Act's exceptions you will have to get permission. You should check the website's "Terms of Use", or "Legal Notices" section to confirm what conditions apply to use of the website's material. Check to see if educational use is explicitly prohibited. Many websites will allow non-commercial educational use of their materials. If you need permission, send your request by using the Copyright Evaluator. 

Linking to the web page containing the content you wish to use is almost always allowed. You need to make sure the content you are linking to is not infringing copyright. If the site posted works created by others, you may need to get permission from the copyright owner of that work. If you believe that the site may contain content posted without copyright permission. Do not link to it.

All links should open in a new window. If they are framed in a College website it might imply that we are affiliated or endorse the other website.

If you need copyright permission, submit your request using the Copyright Evaluator

The use of the images must follow the Fair Dealing Guidelines. Additionally the website must be password protected and limited to enrolled students.

If you wish to share the PowerPoint further, you must have copyright permission. This would include making print copies or posting it on a public website. 

See our Fair Dealing website for more information. You can submit your request using the Copyright Evaluator.

Copying on campus must follow the rules within the Copyright Act. Including the exceptions provided to educational institutions and through the Fair Dealing Guidelines.

Copyright and Library Resources Questions

The LLC’s Reserve collection provides access to high-demand materials for short-term loan periods of 2 to 4 hours. All types of physical materials are permissible:

  • Print books, including textbooks
  • Personal materials created by instructors, such as assignments or lecture notes
  • Articles, excerpts or chapters, providing these do not exceed 10% of the entire work
  • DVDs
  • CDs

Faculty may request for materials to be acquired and/or placed in the Reserve collection by contacting the LLC by email or phone

Yes, you may link to a library resource, but you must ensure it is a persistent link that will not expire. To learn how to create persistent links, visit this page or contact the LLC for assistance

Yes, articles requested through ILL are usually forwarded through email as an electronic PDF attachment. Visit this web page to learn more about ILL availability and how to request resources through the LLC. 

The RGO Library and Learning Commons (LLC) has contracts with a variety of vendors and publishers. They provide the campus with access to electronic tools and resources in many formats. Including e-books, streaming videos, and full-text articles from academic and trade journals, newspapers, and magazines.

The LLC pays thousands of dollars for these resources by negotiating licensing agreements. These agreements stipulate how and by whom a given resource may be used. Users must be currently registered faculty, students, or staff, who have library accounts on the LLC’s proxy server for off-campus access. Access for the general public and students from other institutions (University of Lethbridge or Old College) is available within the library. If licence terms are violated by anyone, licensors may temporarily or permanently suspend access for the entire college community.  The following general practices and guidelines can prevent such problems: 

Usually OK:

  1. making a limited number of print or electronic copies for your personal use
  2. using materials for personal, instructional or research needs
  3. sharing with BVC faculty, staff and students
  4. posting links to specific content

 Not OK:

  1. systematic or substantial printing, copying or downloading (such as entire journal issues)
  2. selling or re-distributing content, or providing access to someone outside of the BVC community, such as an employer
  3. sharing with people other than registered BVC faculty, staff and students
  4. posting actual content or articles to third party web sites, listservs or social media platforms
  5. modifying or altering the contents of licensed resources in any way

Copyright and Course Pack Questions

Yes. The bookstore is operated by a third party that is a for-profit organization. This means that no copyright exceptions, including Fair Dealing, applies to course packs. Copyright permission is required for all copyrighted works included in course packs.

You can send your requests by using the Copyright Evaluator. 

If the course pack is given to the students, then yes.

If the course pack is to be sold to the students then copyright permission is required. This is because the course pack is now being sold for a profit and Fair Dealing no longer applies. You can submit your request by using the Copyright Evaluator

Copyright owners and creators of works have the right to charge a fee for the use of their materials. Some uses are covered by fair dealing, other exceptions, or existing licence agreement. These fees vary, usually based on the number of pages or excerpts copied and the number of copies made. You can submit your request to get copyright permission by using the Copyright Evaluator.

Copyright Contacts and Resources Questions

Please contact the Copyright Office or check out our website.

Requests to get copyright permission can be sent by using the Copyright Evaluator

There are many resources available to you. They are listed on the Copyright Resources web site.

If you are looking for teaching resources, go to our Finding Teaching Resources web site. 

Contact us

Copyright Services

North Campus, First Floor
345 - 6 Avenue SE

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