Copyright in Canada

In Canada a wide range of items are protected by copyright. Including: books, articles, photos, manuals, graphics, CD's, DVD's, films, software, databases and websites, even emails. Copyright usually resides with the creator in most works for 50 years after the death of the creator. Copyright can be assigned to another person/organization to be the rights holder for a work. An example would be a publisher.

Copyright is:
  • Copyright is the right to copy.
  • Copyright automatically applies to all original works.
  • Copyright belongs to the creator of the work.
  • Copyright can be assigned: For example an author reassigns the rights to a publisher.
  • Copyright requires no registration or application and does not need the copyright symbol ©.
  • Copyright is a Federal Government Act.

The Canadian Intellectual Property Office has a short video on "What is a Copyright".

Copyright consists of a set of rights set out in the Copyright Act. The creator of literary and artistic works has economic and moral rights. These rights enable the creator to:

  • Control the publication and reproduction of their works
  • Receive payment, if they wish; and
  • The moral rights protects the integrity of their works.

Users of copyrighted works have rights specified within the Copyright Act. These include the:

  • Expiry of copyright (public domain)
  • Fair dealing exceptions


Permission to use copyrighted works may be needed unless the work is in the Public Domain, or the proposed use of the work falls under Fair Dealing. Bow Valley College has many licensing agreements in place to cover the use of various works. For more information on the licensing agreements, please contact the Copyright Office.

Public domain

Copyright exists for most works (in Canada) in for 50 years after the year in which the creator dies. Then it enters the public domain. At that time the work can be used without asking for permission. Full citations are still needed.

Fair dealing exception

The Copyright Act provides limited rights to be able to use works in certain ways. Bow Valley College uses the Fair Dealing Guidelines created by Colleges and Institutes Canada.

Copyright permission is required for:

  • Works created by someone who does not work for the College.
  • Works not covered by any existing license held by the College.
  • Images, graphs, charts, photographs. etc.
  • Works found on the Internet
  • PowerPoint presentations
  • Unpublished works
  • Student Works

To learn more about obtaining copyright permissions, please see our Copyright Permission Chart.

Copyright permission is not required for:
  • works created by the College faculty or staff
  • using RGO Library and Learning Commons database resources
  • links to external web sites
  • Public Domain works
  • Federal Government copyrighted works
  • Open Educational Resources (OER's)
  • works published with a Creative Commons license
  • short excerpts that may qualify as Fair Dealing.

The RGO Library and Learning Commons is an excellent source of Citation Resources.

Contact us

Copyright Services

North Campus, First Floor
345 - 6 Avenue SE

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