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Copyright

Information for faculty & students about using copyrighted materials at RDC

Questions List

General

Who do I talk to at RDC if I have a copyright question?

Contact your School Librarian or email: copyright@rdc.ab.ca

What are copyright owner's rights?

Please see our page Creating Your Own Works on this guide to see an explanation of your owner rights.

How long does copyright last?

In Canada, copyright protection generally applies to a work for the life of the creator, plus 50 years. In Europe and the United States, copyright protection generally lasts for the life of the creator, plus 70 years. After the copyright expires, a work enters the Public Domain, although copyright protection may still apply to more recent editions, arrangements or adaptations of the work. Be careful, not everything you find on the Internet is in the public domain just because it is publicly available. 

For more information about duration of copyright protection in Canada see the Government of Canada's About Copyright and the Canadian Public Domain Flowchart (pdf).

How can faculty encourage copyright awareness in the classroom?

Talk about copyright, plagiarism and intellectual property in your classes.

Include copyright information on your course syllabus. The following is a sample paragraph you can use or adapt:

Print and electronic materials are protected by copyright legislation. It is your responsibility to become aware of the legal uses of copyright-protected materials and to ensure that your use of these materials complies with copyright obligations. Information can be found on the RDC Copyright Guide at rdc.libguides.com/copyright.

Encourage and expect copyright-friendly standards for student work. Copyright-friendly assignments will:

  • cite all print and graphical/multimedia items (e.g. using APA, MLA, or Chicago)
  • show copyright holders' information on multimedia objects = ©
  • leave sufficient time for permission-seeking
  • include attached permission documentation
  • use alternatives to copyright-protected multimedia:
    • create original images/sounds/videos
    • instead of "borrowing" information from a website, provide a link
    • use copyright-friendly multimedia (see the "Presenting & Creating" tab on any Library Subject Guide for ideas)
    • remember to read the fine print before using any material

Remind students that, although fair dealing or educational exceptions may grant the right to reproduce without permission, they do not grant the right to adapt or modify materials, nor to change the format of materials.

What is fair dealing and how does it relate to copyright?

Fair dealing permits the use of a copyright-protected work without permission from the copyright owner or the payment of copyright royalties. The fair dealing exception in the Copyright Act allows the use of other people's copyright-protected material for the purposes of research, private study, criticism, review, news reporting, education (full detail of the education exceptions can be viewed in sections 29.4 to 29.9 of the Copyright Act), satire, or parody, providing the use is "fair."

For further clarity and additional information about limits on the amount and nature of copying permitted under fair dealing in certain contexts, please see the Fair Dealing Guidelines

Does fair dealing cover teaching?

Yes. While fair dealing doesn’t specifically mention teaching it does mention education. To determine if your use of a work falls under fair dealing, please see the Fair Dealing Guidelines.

Some content in this guide has been copied and adapted from a Copyright FAQ from the University of Waterloo under a Creative Commons Attribution -Noncommercial 2.5 Canada Licence. 

For the Classroom

Can I make copies of copyrighted works to hand out to students in class? 

Yes. Under fair dealing you may make copies of another person’s works and hand them out to students enrolled in your course. You must adhere to the amount that may be copied (i.e. copying limits) under fair dealing. Please see the Fair Dealing Guidelines for the copying limits.

Can I include copies of another person's images and materials in my PowerPoint presentations?

Yes. Under fair dealing you may include another person’s work, including images, in your PowerPoint presentations that you display to students enrolled in your course. You must adhere to the amount that may be copied (i.e. copying limits) under fair dealing. Please see the Fair Dealing Guidelines for the copying limits.

Can I photocopy a journal article and hand it out to my students?

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.

Can I play music in class?

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 consisting primarily of students. However, if you want to use music for non-educational purposes - for example, for background music at a conference or in an athletic facility - a licence must be obtained from the copyright collectives SOCAN and Re:Sound.

Can I play videos (including YouTube) and television news programs in class?

You may play videos in class in the following circumstances:

  • You may show a film or other cinematographic work in the classroom as long as the work is not an infringing copy, the film or work was legally obtained, and you do not circumvent a digital lock* to access the film or work.
  • If you want to show a television news program in the classroom, under the Copyright Act,educational institutions (or those acting under their authority) may copy television news programs or news commentaries and play them in class.
  • You may perform a work available through the Internet, e.g. YouTube, videos, except under the following circumstances:
    • The work is protected by digital locks* preventing their performance
    • A clearly visible notice prohibiting educational use is posted on the website or on the work itself.
    • You have reason to believe that the work available on the Internet is in violation of the copyright owner’s rights.

RDC has purchased a number of streaming video collections (e.g. NFB and Films on Demand), which can be shown in any classroom at RDC without seeking copyright permission. Access these licensed collections through our subject guides or the Library catalogue.

* Learn more about digital locks with the University of Alberta's Technological Protection Measures (Digital Locks) (6:34).

Can I show films from iTunes or Netflix in my class?

The agreements for both iTunes and Netflix appear to specify personal use only.  Therefore, you cannot show films from either of these services in your class.

Are there any databases/websites that I can use for free without worrying about copyright?

Yes. There’s a wealth of material out there which is either in the public domain or available under what is known as Creative Commons licensing, which generally means the work is available for free, subject to certain conditions (such as non-commercial use only, or use with acknowledgment of the author).

Creative Commons materials are available via the Creative Commons website. Their content directories list audio, video, image and text materials available under Creative Commons licensing. For public domain material, simply search online for 'public domain' and the type of material you’re interested in. Check the Library's Open Educational Resources Guide for more information and sources.

For other online materials, a recommended best practice is to check the website’s ‘Terms of Use’ or ‘Legal Notices’ section to confirm what conditions apply to use of the website’s material. In many cases, you may be able to use the material for free for non-commercial and educational purposes.

Is it okay to use images or other materials from the Internet for 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, so if you want to use them, they have to either fall within one of the 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 obtain permission from the copyright owner. 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, including whether educational use is explicitly prohibited. Many websites will allow non-commercial and/or educational use of their materials.

Some content in this guide has been copied and adapted from a Copyright FAQ from the University of Waterloo under a Creative Commons Attribution -Noncommercial 2.5 Canada Licence. 

For Assignments

Can I include copyrighted works in my assignments and presentations?

If the use falls under fair dealing, yes. Since fair dealing includes education, students may include limited amounts of material in their assignments and presentations. See the Fair Dealing Guidelines for details about amounts allowable under fair dealing.

Are there any databases/websites I can use for free without worrying about copyright in my assignments?

Yes. There’s a wealth of material out there which is either in the public domain or available under what is known as Creative Commons licensing, which generally means the work is available for free, subject to certain conditions (such as non-commercial use only, or use with acknowledgment of the author).

Creative Commons materials are available via the Creative Commons website. Their content directories list audio, video, image and text materials available under Creative Commons licensing. For public domain material, simply search online for 'public domain' and the type of material you’re interested in. Check the Library's Open Educational Resources Guide for more information and sources.

For other online materials, a recommended best practice is to check the website’s ‘Terms of Use’ or ‘Legal Notices’ section to confirm what conditions apply to use of the website’s material. In many cases, you may be able to use the material for free for non-commercial and educational purposes.

Can I convert a YouTube video to another format for editing?

If the video you want to convert has the license "Creative Commons Attribution license (reuse allowed)"  you can reuse the video as long as you cite/attribute the creator. Any videos with a Standard YouTube License cannot be changed or converted without permission from the creator.

This license information is found in the description box of the video. Click "Show More" and scroll to the bottom of the box.

Be careful, make sure that the video you want to use was uploaded by the creator or owner. Anyone has the ability to upload a video and put any license they with on it, even if it isn't their original content.

Can I use logos of products and companies in my assignments?

Using logos specifically for assignments is acceptable as it is considered part of fair dealing. However, any use that would imply endorsement or imitation of the brand would be a violation of trademark.

I have an assignment that requires me to upload a video to YouTube. Can I use music and images in that video?

If your use is for educational purposes and you are using only one image from a collection or a short clip from a song, this use is within fair dealing. YouTube has their own copyright rules and may take the video down if there is a complaint about use of others' works.

For Blackboard

Can I post copies of copyrighted works to Blackboard?

Yes, if you adhere to the amount that may be copied under fair dealing. Please see the Fair Dealing Guidelines for the copyright limits.

Can I email copies of works to students enrolled in my courses?

Yes, if you adhere to the amount that may be copied under fair dealing. Please see the Fair Dealing Guidelines for the copyright limits.

Is there any difference between posting something on my own website and posting something on Blackboard?

Yes. Posting something on your own website means you are making the work available world-wide. Wide distribution tends towards the conclusion that the dealing is not “fair” and such uses may not be covered by any College licenses. By contrast, RDC's learning management system, Blackboard, is a password protected, secure website accessible only by students enrolled in our courses. In some cases, posting material on Blackboard will be covered by one of the College's electronic subscriptions.

Be careful, just because you may post a copyright-protected work to Blackboard doesn’t mean you have permission to post the work on your own personal website.

Can I upload a PDF of a journal article I obtained through the library's e-journals or article databases to Blackboard for my students to read?

The licenses for e-journals provided by the Library do not typically allow instructors to upload articles into secure course management systems such as Blackboard. While there may be good reason to upload articles to Blackboard, it is important to consider that doing so may mean that your students do not have the most recent version of the article. It is not unusual for publishers to make corrections or changes, such as adding supplementary material, to articles after initial publication. A direct link is the best way to ensure access to the most recent version of an article. Linking to the article also allows the Library to track use and obtain data about the importance of a particular journal to the campus.

You are free to create a direct link yourself, by following the instructions in our faculty guide.

While uploading and linking to articles in Blackboard may be permitted by the licenses, none of the licenses that the Library has with publishers allows for uploading to, or linking from, websites that allow access without authentication (e.g. publicly accessible personal websites).

Can I upload a PDF of a journal article I obtained through Interlibrary loan to Blackboard for my students to read?

Yes, obtaining an article through interlibrary loan is considered a means of legally obtaining the article. As long as you adhere to the amounts that may be copied under fair dealing you may post it on Blackboard. Please see the Fair Dealing Guidelines for the copyright limits.

Can I scan a print journal article or a book chapter into a PDF and post it on Blackboard?

Yes, as long as you adhere to the amounts that may be copied under fair dealing you may scan and post it on Blackboard. See the Fair Dealing Guidelines for the copying limits.

It’s important to note that fair dealing does not allow you to scan material and add it to a website unless that website is password protected (e.g. Blackboard) and restricted to students enrolled in your course.

Can I share copies of ebooks and articles that I find on the Internet?

Provided the ebooks and articles are not infringing copies, it is permissible to share links to these text-based materials with your students. Works should be attributed, and Fair Dealing Guidelines apply to copying portions of these texts.

Be aware that websites such as Academia, ResearchGate, and Internet Archive provide access to articles and ebooks that have been uploaded by users rather than the publisher of materials. These may be infringing copies.

Can I share copies of ebooks that I have purchased for individual use?

Ebooks purchased for individual use cannot be shared. However, Fair Dealing Guidelines apply to copying portions of these texts.

Is it okay to use images or other material from the Internet in my Blackboard course?

It depends on what you want to do. Materials on the internet are treated the same under copyright law as any other copyright materials, so if you want to use them, they have to either fall within one of the 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 obtain permission from the copyright owner. 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, including whether educational use is explicitly prohibited. Many websites will allow non-commercial educational use of their materials.

Do I need permission to link to a website?

Content on the web is copyrighted in the same way as print and other formats, even if there is no copyright symbol or notice. Linking directly to the web page containing the content you wish to use is almost always permissible, although you need to make sure the content you are linking to is not in itself infringing copyright. In addition, if the web page does not clearly identify the website and content owner, you should also include the full details of the author, copyright owner and source of the materials by the link. This will avoid any suggestion that the website is your own material or that your website is somehow affiliated with the other site. 

If you have reason to believe that the website may contain content posted without the permission of the copyright owner, you should avoid linking to it. In addition, you must comply with website statements indicating that permission is required before material is reproduced or that it may not be reproduced at all. Such statements are typically found in sections titled “terms of use”.

I gave a PowerPoint presentation in class which includes figures, charts, diagrams and other images from a textbook. Can I post it on Blackboard? I'll be sure to cite where the figures came from.

As long as you adhere to the amounts that may be copied under fair dealing, you may post charts and diagrams from textbooks, or other works, on Blackboard. If, for example, you wish to post multiple images from a book, you may do so as long as those images amount to no more than 10% of the book (see the Fair Dealing Guidelines). If you wish to post such material to a website, that website must be password-protected or otherwise restricted to students enrolled in your course.

Acknowledging the author and source of a work doesn’t mean you won’t be liable for copyright infringement. Acknowledging the source is no defense if the way in which you’ve used the work is not permitted under the Copyright Act. So make sure you either fall within an exception or have the copyright owner’s permission.

I have access to other databases through my affiliation with another institution. Can I upload PDF articles from those databases to my course?

No. You may only use resources from the institution that the course is offered by. If it is an RDC course using our Blackboard site, you can only use our resources. If if is an external institution's course and hosted on their Learning Management System, you can use their materials in that course.

Alternatively, you can obtain materials through Interlibrary loan and use them in a course from any other institution as this is considered legally obtaining the materials.

Can I change the format of a work (e.g. from print to digital) so my students with accessibility needs can be accommodated?

As long as there is no copy available in the required format, reproducing or altering the format of an entire work is allowed under these circumstances. Disability Resources can assist in facilitating the reproduction and conversion.

Can students download my presentations from Blackboard?

Section 30.01 of the Copyright Act also outlines specific exceptions for online education. In particular, it is not an infringement of copyright for students "to reproduce the lesson in order to be able to listen to or view it at a more convenient time," provided the students destroy or delete their copy within 30 days of receiving a final grade (Section 30.01(5))

Some content in this guide has been copied and adapted from a Copyright FAQ from the University of Waterloo under a Creative Commons Attribution -Noncommercial 2.5 Canada Licence. 

In the Library (Reserves, Interlibrary Loan, Copying/Printing)

What kind of materials will the Library accept for inclusion on Reserve?

We will accept:

  • personal materials of instructors, for which they own the copyright (e.g. assignment questions/solutions)
  • original print books, textbooks, DVDs, CDs, etc.
  • anything held within the Library collection

For more information, and to submit a reserves request, please see the Library's Faculty Guide.

Can I get the Library to send me electronic copies of articles using the interlibrary loan (ILL) service?

Yes. When you request an article via ILL, we are most likely able to send it to you via email. Reasons we may not be able to do this include being unable to find a library to supply the article or specific licensing prohibitions.

Can I photocopy and/or print journal articles and chapters of books?

Yes you can make a copy for your personal use, instructional or research needs. How much you can copy or print is outlined in the Fair Dealing Guidelines.

Can the library make a digital copy of a VHS (or other work in an outdated format) for me?

As long as the work is no longer commercially available and is currently in the library's collection, the library is able to digitize works in outdated formats for preservation.

Some content in this guide has been copied and adapted from a Copyright FAQ from the University of Waterloo under a Creative Commons Attribution -Noncommercial 2.5 Canada Licence.