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What is Copyright in Canada?

Copyright can be confusing, the rules are not black and white, things are constantly changing. This website is meant to give you a general overview of the things you can and cannot do when teaching or studying here at St. Lawrence College. If you have any questions or concerns please contact us at or ext. 1113 and we would be happy to help you.

Video from Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada.

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Copyright Concepts

What is copyright?

Copyright is a legal term that describes the rights given to creators of material so they can benefit from their work. The purpose of the Act is to try and balance the rights of the creator, the copyright owner, and the user.

In Canada, Copyright is automatic for content in a fixed form. If you write a book or draw a picture, those things are under copyright. A copyright symbol does not have to be present for the work to be protected.

Copyright does not come into effect until the fact or idea has entered a fixed form. No one can infringe on your copyright unless you have written it down, drawn it, painted it, recorded it, etc.

What are the consequences of infringing the Copyright Act?
  • Legal liability both criminal and civil
  • Liability for both yourself and the college
  • Up to $5000 fine for non-commercial infringement
What can be copyrighted?
Literary Works Artistic works
  • Books
  • Poems
  • Plays
  • Articles
  • Photographs
  • Art work
  • Charts
  • Graphs
  • Maps
Musical works Communication signals
  • Sound recordings
  • Musical scores
  • Radio broadcasts
  • Television broadcasts
Dramatic works Material published on the internet
  • TV shows
  • Plays
  • Films
  • Web pages
  • Blog posts
  • YouTube videos
Performer's Performance  
  • Performance of a work
  • Recitation of a work
  • Improvisation of a work

Fair Dealing Concepts

What is fair dealing?

Fair Dealing is a legal exemption to the exclusive rights of copyright holders. It is determined on a case-by-case basis and is based on a consideration of the following four factors:

  • The purpose and character of the use (including whether it is commercial, non-profit, or educational)
  • The nature of the copyrighted work
  • The amount and substantiality of the portion to be used
  • The effect upon the potential market for the copyrighted work

Because intention is a part of the consideration, only the end user can make the initial assessment of whether their use is fair.

Fair Dealing Checklist
Favouring Fair Dealing Disfavouring Fair Dealing
  • Educational
  • Published work
  • Small quantity (e.g. a single chapter or journal article or other excerpt consisting of less than 10% of the work)
  • Amount is appropriate to education purpose
  • One or few copies made and/or distributed
  • Restricted access (limited to students in a class or other appropriate group)
  • One-time use, spontaneous use (no time to obtain permission)
  • Commercial, entertainment or other
  • Non-transformative, verbatim/exact copy
  • Profit-generating use
  • Unpublished work
  • Large portion or entire work
  • Portion used is central or the "heart" of the work
  • Includes more than necessary for education purpose
  • Cumulative effect of copying would be to substitute for purchase of the copyrighted work
  • Numerous copies made and/or distributed

Showing Content in Class

Library Videos

The library has licenses to video collections viewable here These can be shown in class and posted to Blackboard.

Educational Screenings of Documentaries and Select Feature Films​

Some Original educational documentaries are available for one-time educational screenings. To find out which titles are available for educational screenings, go to the "Only On Netflix" section of From here, navigate to "All Alphabetical" (

Titles that are available for educational screening will display the following grant of permission on their details page:


Netflix is proud to present original documentaries that speak to our users in a meaningful way. We know that many of you are as excited about these films as we are; and because of their informational aspects, you’d like to show them in an educational setting -- e.g., in the classroom, at the next meeting of your community group, with your book club, etc. Consequently, we will permit one-time educational screenings of any of the documentaries noted with this information, on the following terms:

  • The documentary may only be accessed via the Netflix service, by a Netflix account holder. We don’t sell DVDs, nor can we provide other ways for you to exhibit the film.
  • The screening must be non-profit and non-commercial. That means you can’t charge admission, or solicit donations, or accept advertising or commercial sponsorships in connection with the screening.
  • Please don’t use Netflix’s logos in any promotion for the screening, or do anything else that indicates that the screening is “official” or endorsed by Netflix.
We trust our users to respect these guidelines, which are intended to help you share and discuss our documentary content in your community.
DVDs and Video

You do not generally need permission to screen a film, DVD or video in class for non-profit educational instruction.

Make sure any DVD you play is not an infringing copy.

The Copyright Modernization Act is in force as of November 7th, 2012 and public performance rights are no longer needed for displaying of movies (feature films and documentaries) in a classroom setting.  You would still need rights in some cases if you are streaming on-line material, depending on the license attached to that streaming content.

YouTube and other streaming sites

Content posted to YouTube or other public streaming sites are free to show in class provided they are from a verified source, ie. the original uploader. You can identify that a source is verified if the user has a checkmark beside their username. See

A brand's official website can also be visited and they generally have links to their official social media, including things like YouTube.

If the source of the video or clip is locked behind a paywall or a password they are not permitted to be shown in class regardless of whether or not there is a personal subscription. (Some exceptions apply, see Netflix.)

What options to I have?

Publicly Available Internet Material

Faculty may make and distribute copies of publicly available internet material to students provided the material contains no visible statement prohibiting educational use. The website and author (if given) must be cited. Material must not be protected by a digital lock (i.e. password protected).


Faculty may perform plays, videos, sound recordings, and musical works on campus to a class of students for non-profit educational purposes. The copy used to perform the material must be legal but it can be your own copy, a library copy or borrowed from a friend or colleague.

This would include things such as students performing a play, faculty playing a sound recording, faculty playing a movie or TV show from a DVD, faculty playing a radio program or TV show at the time of its broadcast. Please note that for broadcast works you may only play at the time of airing for example you could listen to the radio in class but could not record it at home and play the recording.

News Broadcasts

Faculty may record a single copy of a news broadcast (not including documentaries), review it, and show it to students in class. Please note that this does NOT apply to documentaries, other TV shows or films.


Faculty may copy or perform material for use by students in a test or exam providing the material is not commercially available in an appropriate medium.

Online Lessons

Faculty are allowed to record a lesson and make it available to their students as long as it only available to students registered in the course, for example through Blackboard. The lesson can contain copyright-protected material as long as the material is legally allowed in teaching on campus. Students in the course may make a copy of the lesson to watch at another time but all copies of the recording, including those held by the instructor and the student, must be destroyed within 30 days of students receiving their final evaluation.

"Mash-up" clause or Non-Commercial User Generated Content

An individual may take legal copies of multiple copyright-protected material and use them to create a new work such as an instructional video. All material used must be cited. The new work must be transformative and cannot be used for commercial or promotional purposes, though it can be posted online.

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This site was designed solely for informational purposes for St. Lawrence College faculty, staff and students.

All other users are encouraged to check and confirm the information with their institution. This site is prepared by library staff and is not reviewed by legal counsel.


For more examples of copyright questions please visit

Copyright Guidelines

Copying Guidelines

The copyright law of Canada governs the copying and communicating of copyright-protected material. Certain copies and communications may infringe copyright law. These fair dealing guidelines are provided for your information. You are solely responsible for knowing your rights and responsibilities under the Copyright Act. St. Lawrence College is not responsible for infringing copies made by the users of these machines.

The fair dealing provision in the Copyright Act permits the copying and communication of short excerpts from a copyright-protected work, without permission or the payment of copyright royalties.

1. A student may copy and communicate, in paper or electronic form, a single copy of a short excerpt from a copyright-protected work for the purpose of research, private study, criticism, review, news reporting, education, satire or parody.

2. Copying for the purpose of news reporting, criticism or review must mention the source and, if given in the source, the name of the author or creator of the work.

3. A single copy of a short excerpt from a copyright-protected work may be posted to a learning or course management system that is password protected or otherwise restricted to students of a particular course.

4. A short excerpt means any one of a to g:

a. up to 10% of a copyright-protected work (including a literary work, musical score, sound recording, and an audiovisual work)
b. one chapter from a book
c. a single article from a periodical 
d. an entire artistic work (including a painting, print, photograph, diagram, drawing, map, chart, and plan) from a copyright-protected work containing other artistic works
e. an entire newspaper article or page
f. an entire single poem or musical score from a copyright-protected work containing other poems or musical scores
g. an entire entry from an encyclopedia, annotated bibliography, dictionary or similar reference work

5. Copying or communicating multiple short excerpts from the same copyright-protected work, with the intention of copying or communicating substantially the entire work, is prohibited.

Copyright for Faculty

Copyright Literacy Modules

As you may be aware in November 2013 we launched a set of copyright literacy modules for faculty on Blackboard to help faculty understand the basics of copyright and determine what materials can be used in the classroom and in course packs.

After six years we have decided to discontinue the BlackBoard Copyright modules. Instead faculty are asked to use The Learning Portal's Copyright site

Course Packs

When creating a course pack you can use material as outlined under the FAQs. This allows you to use up to 10% of a work, a chapter from a book, an article from a periodical and publicly available internet material. Please note this material can also be posted to Blackboard or given as a handout in class. For more information about Course Packs, please visit your campus bookstore, the PrintShop, or speak to your Dean.

Terms of Use

If you are unsure if you can use content from a site please refer to their terms of use page. The "Terms of Use" or simply "Terms" can usually be found at the very bottom of a website. If you cannot find it please email for assistance.

Important Documents

More Information