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Copyright protects a work from the moment that work is recorded in durable form.

A work does not need to be registered or labelled as copyrighted for that work to be protected by copyright. Rather, a creator owns copyright in a work as soon as the person writes, paints, photographs, records or saves that work in durable form.

An educator must assume that a published work is copyrighted unless there are credible indications to the contrary (e.g. the work is known to be in the public domain, the work includes express permission for use, etc.). Recent changes to the Copyright Act (Canada) and decisions of the Supreme Court of Canada, in particular Alberta (Education) v. Canadian Copyright Licensing Agency (Access Copyright), 2012 SCC 37, have expanded the scope of the fair dealing exception under the Act. Olds College follows specific guidelines for making copies under the fair dealing exception of the Act, including how much of a given work may be copied, how it may be distributed and for what purposes.

In Canada, copyright automatically subsists in any original literary, dramatic, musical and artistic expression in fixed form, regardless of its merit. Copyright law protects creative works such as books, computer programs, sound or video recordings, photographs, songs and other printed or digital material and website content.

In Canada, copyright protects only original work. A work must originate from its author, be more than a copy and involve skill and judgement in its creation, not just a trivial or mechanical compilation of data. Effort, or "sweat of the brow" alone in the creation of a database, for example, does not provide sufficient grounds for copyright.

Copyright is limited and copyrighted works may sometimes be used without the need to ask permission or pay a royalty. One way the Copyright Act accomplishes this is to provide term limits on copyright. In Canada, in most cases, copyright expires 50 years after the death of the creator. Works enter the public domain when the term of copyright has expired. A second way this is accomplished is through fair dealing rights for users of copyrighted works. Works enter the public domain when the term of copyright has expired. Currently, the term of copyright is measured by the life of the creator plus 50 years. Once these works move into the public domain you can use them for cultural, educational, personal and social purposes.

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