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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.

What is Public Domain?

Click here to view the  Public Domain Flowchart created by Creative Commons.


Fair Dealings

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.  Olds College is not responsible for infringing copies made by staff.

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, IF you follow these fair dealing guidelines.

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

  • 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.  

  • A single copy of a short excerpt (see point 4) 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.

  • A short excerpt means any one of:

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

  • 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.
  • Copying or communicating that exceeds the limits in this Fair Dealing Policy may be referred to a supervisor or other person designated by the educational institution for evaluation. An evaluation of whether the proposed copying or communication is permitted under fair dealing will be made based on all relevant circumstances.

  • Any fee charged by the educational institution for communicating or copying a short excerpt from a copyright-protected work must be intended to cover only the costs of the institution, including overhead costs.

How to cite your sources

It is the responsibility of the individual to understand and comply with Olds College’s policies regarding the use of copyright-protected works. Any copying of a copyright-protected work must originate from a non-infringing copy of that work (published original, licensed copy, lawful online copy, library loan, etc.)

All works copied must be clearly and appropriately attributed.

Guidelines for citing your work

Citation Links: