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Copyright @ LU


Laurentian University and its faculty, staff and students are both creators and consumers of intellectual property. We are legally (and morally) obligated to respect the intellectual property right of others, just as we expect others to respect our intellectual property rights. These rights are protected under the Canadian Copyright Act. You are required to comply with copyright law and the Laurentian University copyright requirements. These pages provide some basic guidance on what you can and cannot do with copyrighted works.


Please note that this research guide is intended to provide general information only and is not to be construed as legal advice on copyright.

2016 Access Copyright License: Now Higher Copying Limits!

Laurentian University has a new license with Access Copyright (2016-2020), now in force, that allows more copying from works than permitted either under the previous license or under fair dealing. 

The basic privileges conferred, somewhat paraphrased, are that:

  1. You can make copies of up to twenty percent (20%) of a work (e.g., a book, whether monographic or a collection of shorter works)


  2. Provided that it is no more than twenty-five percent (25%) of the work in which it is found, you can make copies of
    1. an entire page or article from a magazine, journal or newspaper
    2. an entire short story, play, poem, essay or article from a work that contains other published works
    3. an entire entry or article from a reference work
    4. an entire reproduction of an artistic work (including any drawing, painting, print, photograph or other reproduction of a work of sculpture, architectural work or work of artistic craftsmanship) from a work that contains other published works
    5. an entire chapter from a book

These limits also apply for online course collections (e.g., on D2L) and for paper course packs.

Not all works are in the “repertoire” of Access Copyright, and so subject to the above copying privileges, but the Access Copyright repertoire is large and encompasses the repertoires of most major publishers.  When in doubt, it is possible to check in Access Copyright’s Title Search and Permissions Tool to learn whether a work is in the Access Copyright repertoire.

Uses of works that are not in the Access Copyright repertoire are governed by the Copyright Act or by other licenses, rather than by the Access Copyright license.  For works that are in the Access Copyright repertoire, anything that can be legally done with respect to any work under the Copyright Act, can still be done under the terms of the Access Copyright license. 

The above text is meant only as simplified guidance; faculty, staff and students of Laurentian University are encouraged to read the actual text of the license terms, including definitions, of particular practical relevance, which may affect the copying that you wish to carry out.  

Copyright Advice

Copyright Advice

General (non-legal) copyright advice can be obtained by contacting the University Librarian.  Most uncertainties can probably be resolved at this level. 

In cases of legal doubt, the University Librarian will refer the question to the Vice-President, Academic, who will obtain legal advice as may seem necessary.  

Copyright Clearances for Course Packs

Any necessary copyright permissions for the use of copyrighted content in course packs will normally be sought by the course pack production service on behalf of the course instructor requesting the course pack.  

Copyright Clearance Service for D2L and Course Reserves

The Library and Archives will be pleased to seek transactional permissions to reproduce copyrighted content on behalf of members of the Laurentian community, where our general license with Access Copyright or any other available license or exception to copyright does not already provide sufficient clearance for the intended use of the content.  Usually, such permissions will be sought in connection with posting content to D2L or course reserves, or with the use of copyrighted content in a thesis or publication.  In most cases, we will work with Access Copyright.  All royalties and processing fees charged by Access Copyright or, as applicable, by copyright holders will be passed on to the person requesting the transactional permission. 

To request this service or to receive further information, please contact the University Librarian.

Copyright Law

Copyright is granted and governed in Canada by federal statute, namely, the Copyright Act.  Most members of the university community will likely find the following sections to be most important for their day-to-day uses of works under copyright:


Section 2: Definitions

Sections 3-5:  The rights reserved by a copyright holder and the works covered

Sections 6-12:  Term of copyright

Sections 13-14: Ownership of copyright, moral rights

Sections 15-26: Sound recordings, broadcasts and performances

Section 27: Infringement of copyright

Section 28: Infringement of moral rights

Sections 29-32.2: Exceptions to copyright, including fair dealing and specific exceptions for educational institutions and libraries, and for assisting persons with perceptual disabilities

Sections 34-40: Civil remedies in the case of infringement

Section 41: Technological protection measures (digital locks)

Section 80: Private copying


In situations that may not be covered under our general license with Access Copyright or under another license, the following documents will be helpful in understanding what can or cannot be done with materials under copyright at Laurntian University under provisions of the Copyright Act.

Copyright Licenses

Copyright Licenses

Explicit permission to use works under copyright in certain ways that may or may not be covered by the exceptions in the Copyright Act is governed by a license granted by a copyright holder.  As licenses are, in theory, negotiated contracts, they take precedence over any terms of the Copyright Act in the case of a conflict with the terms of the Act.  There are several kinds of licenses that are frequently relied upon by users at a university:

Creative Commons licenses

These licenses are granted by copyright holders, usually authors/creators themselves, to the public in general so as to allow a range of uses of a given work on the Internet that will be much broader than that normally allowed under exceptions to copyright law.  An author retains his/her copyright, but, depending upon the version of the Creative Commons license applied, allows the copying, republishing or even transforming of a work, often only non-commercially and in exchange for just attribution.  The use of many “open access” works are governed by Creative Commons licenses.  For more information, see the Creative Commons Canada website.  

Copyright collective licenses

This is a broad license purchased from a copyright collective, an organization that manages copyright on behalf of most creators and publishers in a given jurisdiction.  Access Copyright is the copyright collective that manages the copyright of authors and publishers of textual works in all parts of Canada except Quebec.  Laurentian has purchased license from Access Copyright to allow members of the university community to do much of the copying that they need to do (primarily from works printed on paper) without further need to seek permissions or pay royalties.  Such a license will normally allow much greater copying of the works covered under the license than would be allowed by the Copyright Act alone; our license with Access Copyright explicitly allows any use of a work that is already allowed under the Copyright Act.  

Vendor licenses

This is a license that sets out the terms of use of the content in, generally, a digital online work, such as an e-book, an online journal, or a library database.  Such a license will be specific to each online product provided by a vendor.  The terms of these product-specific licenses will take precedence over any competing terms in the Copyright Act or, since they are granted directly by the copyright holder, in a copyright collective license.  Questions about the usage rights granted in a license for a particular online resource can be directed to the library.  

General licenses granted by organizations

Some organizations will grant explicit licenses to use the content that they make available to the public in ways that may be broader than would be allowed under exceptions in the Copyright Act without the need to ask for permission or pay a royalty.  One important example of this is the general permission granted by federal government bodies to copy and distribute for non-commercial uses content published by them that is under “Crown copyright.”  Users of federal government web or print content should look for text setting out such a grant of license; this is found, in the case of online content, under the “Terms and Conditions” link on departmental web pages, such as the Ownership and Usage of Content Provided on This Site (Copyright) text on the Services Canada website.

Where Copyright does not Apply

Ideas and facts *- Copyright does not apply ideas or facts (“data”) in themselves, but only to particular expressions of such.  For example, while an author may hold the copyright for her novel, it would not be an infringement of copyright to, say, write and publish a descriptive synopsis of the novel or to “borrow” a plot device from the novel in one’s own writing, especially if no passages from the novel itself were reproduced. As well, it would generally be acceptable to take scientific data from a graph and present them in a table in one’s own work.


The public domain * – Works that have fallen out of copyright because of their age, where applicable, in relation to the death date (known or estimated) of the author, are considered to be in the public domain, so no longer under copyright.  In Canada, in general, works enter the public domain 50 years after the death of their author.  Where the author is a government or corporation, content enters the public domain 50 years after its creation.  This “term of copyright” is longer for sound recordings and cinematic works; term of copyright for various media and authorship situations is set out in Sections 6-12 in the Copyright Act.   Users must be careful in their use of content that might seem to be in the public domain, but may not be, in fact.  For example, while the works of Charles Dickens are by now in the public domain, the use of a particular edition or translation of his works, if relatively recent, may well be under copyright. 


Insubstantial copying * – The Copyright Board found in May 2015 that the copying of 1-2 pages of a longer work, not constituting more than 2.5% of the whole work (and not from a book of short works, such as poems), would normally be “insubstantial,” so not requiring permission of a copyright holder.  See Section X (ten) of the May 2015 Copyright Board decision.


* It should be noted that, even though copyright may not apply, in a university setting, use of “borrowed” facts and ideas, works in the public domain and “insubstantial” parts of works will normally still require appropriate attribution in the interest of academic integrity.  Any unattributed use of the text or ideas of others might be plagiarism even if it is not a breach of copyright.  

Fair Dealing

The copying of a limited, though not insubstantial, amount of a work for certain purposes may be considered “fair dealing” and, as such, will not require a user to ask permission of a copyright holder or to pay a royalty. 

According to the Copyright Act (see Section 29), the allowable purposes of copying as fair dealing are: (a) research, (b) private study, (c) education, (d) parody or satire, (e) criticism or review and (f) news reporting.  The last two purposes require appropriate mention of the source under the Copyright Act, though, at a university, academic integrity will normally require that sources be indicated. 

At Laurentian, because we have a general copying license with Access Copyright, a fair dealing analysis for copying will most often not be necessary: under that license, faculty, staff and students at Laurentian can copy for most academic purposes much more of a work than is allowable under fair dealing.

The Copyright Act does not define the amount of copying that is allowable as fair dealing.  Nevertheless, most fair dealing policies of Canadian educational institutions have adopted ten percent (10%) of a work as an amount that would normally be considered “safe” as fair dealing in their settings.  That said, the limit of fair dealing with respect to a given work could be less or more than this, depending upon the characteristics of the work or the circumstances of its use.  Such fair dealing policies also provide for distribution to all students in a course the copied content as fair dealing, a position supported by an important 2012 Supreme Court of Canada decision (a link to this is found below).

The Supreme Court of Canada proposed in 2004 a two-part test for determining whether a use can be considered to be fair dealing.  The first part is to decide whether the use fits generally within one of the fair dealing purposes listed above; the second part, is to consider in detail the use of the work according to six factors: (a) the purpose of the dealing, (b) the character of the dealing, (c) the amount of the dealing, (d) alternatives to the dealing, (e) the nature of the dealing, and (f) the effect of the dealing (on the market for the work).  In 2015 and in 2016, the Copyright Board further clarified the application of these factors in a fair dealing analysis (links to these documents are found below).    

As Laurentian is a bilingual university, it may at times be necessary to translate a limited amount of a work for educational purposes.  As translation is not a dealing covered by our Access Copyright license, it will be necessary to consider whether it can be done as fair dealing or whether it will be necessary to seek permission of the copyright holder (and potentially pay a royalty).

Key Fair Dealing Documents

The key documents of reference in Canada that speak to considerations of fair dealing, aside from the Copyright Act itself, include:


Fair Dealing Policies at Universities

Many Canadian universities have formally adopted a local “Fair Dealing Policy” as a guide for members of the campus community in their use of works under copyright.  Given that many of the typical uses of works at a university are, or could be, undertaken in ways consistent with fair dealing, adherence to a fair dealing policy allows such universities to operate without purchasing a general license from Access Copyright. 

The success of such an approach will generally depend not only on establishing a fair dealing policy, but also on identifying a “copyright officer” able to make decisions in untypical copyright situations, on setting up a process and a fund for clearing copyright when a necessary use cannot conform to fair dealing, on a vigorous educational program to inform members of the campus community of best practices in working with copyrighted materials, and so on. 

In 2012, the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada (AUCC, now Universities Canada) published a model Fair Dealing Policy for Universities.  The policy text reflects similar policies developed in the K-12 and community college sectors, and it was adopted, sometimes with local variations by many Canadian universities.  AUCC then followed up in 2013 with a set of nine more-detailed fair dealing policy application guides for Canadian universities. 

Laurentian has not to this point formally adopted a fair dealing policy, though an awareness of what is typically considered to be consistent with fair dealing can often be helpful nonetheless.  

In situations in which fair dealing must be relied upon, the following FAQ may be helpful.

Open Access and Copyright

Content, such as a journal article or a thesis, that is available online on an “open access” basis (as opposed to being in the public domain) is under copyright, with the copyright most often retained by the author of the work (as opposed to being signed over to a publisher).  Most often, it is through a Creative Commons license or similar that a range of rights are given to users of the content. In using open access materials, it is important to be aware of what can and cannot be done by a user with respect to a work.  See the section above on Creative Commons licenses for further information. 

In cases where publishers of scholarly journals set policy around copyright with respect to open access availability of journal articles, such policies can usually be found either on the website of the publisher or individual journal, or in the SHERPA/RoMEO database of publisher copyright and self-archiving policies.  For authors who intend to make their articles available in their university’s open access repository (such as LU Zone at Laurentian), it will be important to understand publisher requirements if an author has signed over their copyright to the article publisher.

For more general information on Open Access, especially at Laurentian University, please see our webpage on Open Access.   

Accessibility and Copyright

The Copyright Act makes allowance for the creation or provision of alternative/adaptive formats for the use of persons with perceptual disabilities.  The Ontario Council of University Libraries (OCUL) has created an Accessibility Information Toolkit for Libraries that includes useful information on Canadian Copyright and accessibility.

Archives and Copyright

The Copyright Committee of the Canadian Council of Archives (CCA) provides some helpful Copyright Information for Archives and Archivists on its website.

Examples of University Copyright Web Pages

A number of Canadian universities, especially those operating outside of a general license with Access Copyright, have provided considerable copyright guidance to their campus communities.  Without our necessarily endorsing, in the Laurentian context, all of the content in their copyright web pages, we provide links to several very well-developed copyright web pages made available by and for other universities.  There may well be helpful copyright information there. 



  1. Concordia University – Copyright Guide
  2. University of Manitoba – Copyright Office
  3. University of Waterloo – Copyright Guidelines
  4. University of Ottawa -- Copyright