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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.