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Copyright: Copyright

What is Copyright?

Copyright is the set of rights in the Canadian Copyright Act granted to creators of original works to exploit their works and to ensure that use of their works is properly credited. The Copyright Act strives to balance the interests of creators of original literary, dramatic, musical, and artistic works and other copyrighted subject matter with the interests of users of copyrighted subject matter.

Creators of original works have the sole right to produce, reproduce, perform, publish, adapt, and distribute their works, and to authorize these acts by others. The Copyright Act allows users certain limited rights which are exceptions to copyright (user rights); these rights do not infringe copyright. User rights include those uses deemed to be fair dealing for purposes of research, private study, criticism, review, news reporting, education, parody, and satire.

All University of Lethbridge faculty, students, and staff are obliged to uphold copyright law. This is an important but complex obligation for a number of reasons. Copyright is far-reaching, as it applies to published and unpublished original works in any fixed format including print, audio-visual, and digital. A given work may consist of multiple component works, each of which may be copyrighted by a different copyright owner. As well, the determination of permissible uses and obligations pertaining to a given copyrighted work can be an intricate process. For example, it can be challenging to determine if a work is copyrighted and to identify the copyright owner; permissible uses may depend on, among other things, the intended users and the proposed uses; and applicable license agreements may include conditions specified by copyright owners.

The University Copyright Advisor provides guidance and permissions services for University of Lethbridge faculty, students, and staff in matters involving copyright. To discuss copyright questions or concerns, please contact the University Copyright Advisor at

The information provided on this website is offered as general guidance only, not as legal counsel.

Transitioning In-Person Courses to Online

Some Basics

  • Most copyright considerations are the same, whether your course is on-campus or online.
  • If it was okay to use a copyrighted work in your on-campus class, it will often be okay to do so in your online class, especially when access is limited to the same enrolled students.
  • The University's fair dealing guidelines apply equally to teaching on-campus and online.
  • If your desired use goes beyond the fair dealing guidelines, please contact the University Copyright Advisor office for assistance.

Some Specifics

  • Use Moodle or other secure platforms or services to distribute copyrighted course materials.
  • Whenever you can, use persistent links to (non-infringing) online content like articles in Library subscription databases and Youtube videos.
  • The University Copyright Advisor office can
    • help you assess the copyright/permission status of materials you wish to post in Moodle or place on E-Reserve;
    • arrange for assistance with scanning and/or formatting of copyright-compliant excerpts from course materials of your choosing for posting on Moodle or E-Reserve;
    • investigate the availability of permission or licensing when your desired use goes beyond the University's fair dealing guidelines; and
    • help you assess copyright compliance aspects of alternative sources you may be considering (keep in mind that sources like Netflix and iTunes movies are generally not designed for course-based use).
  • University Library subject librarians may be able to help you find suitable alternatives for content not currently available online, including viable options for including films or videos in your course that are not currently available in the Library's streaming video collections.
  • For a more in-depth discussion, see Fair Dealing and Emergency Remote Teaching in Canada by S. Trosow and L. Macklem, University of Western Ontario.

Additional Teaching Resources

Changes in Our Copying Environment

As of January 1, 2016 the University operates outside of a blanket Access Copyright license. This means that digital copies of works made under the University's now-expired blanket license must not be re-used in Moodle courses from January 1, 2016 forward without copyright owner permission. See the Moodle tab for more information. Reasons for non-renewal of the blanket license are provided in the October 27, 2015 VP Academic Letter to the University community.

On June 25, 2012, the University of Lethbridge acquired a blanket license covering copying of works in the Access Copyright repertoire for the period January 1, 2011 to December 31, 2015. This license expired December 31, 2015 and has not been renewed.

From September 1, 2011 to June 24, 2012, the University operated outside of an Access Copyright license. Reasons for opting out of the license for this period were provided in the November 1, 2010 VP Academic Letter to the University community.

What May I Copy or Use?

Under the Copyright Act, producing, reproducing, or publicly performing a “work or any substantial part thereof in any material form whatever” without the copyright owner’s permission may constitute copyright infringement. As a general rule, however, providing links to Web-accessible works is not copyright infringement because it does not constitute reproduction of the work. See the Library’s Persistent Links – FAQs for more information.

Before using (e.g., producing, reproducing, or publicly performing) a copyright work or a substantial part1, consider the questions in the Copyright Permissions Flow Chart to determine whether you have the right to do so. In general, the following are among the options that may be applicable to your particular need involving use of a substantial part of one or more works:

  • choose works that are in the public domain, as materials in the public domain are not protected by copyright;
  • instead of making copies, provide persistent links to the works if available online;
  • use works from the Library's large repertoire of licensed full-text articles and books, much of which may be reproduced in print or digital formats for educational purposes, subject to specific licensing terms;
  • look for works published under open access or Creative Commons licenses that cover your desired use;
  • exercise user rights provided by statutory copyright infringement exceptions such as fair dealing;
  • place course readings on Electronic or Print Reserve in the Library;
  • compile a set of readings for a course and have it produced as a coursepack by the Bookstore; or
  • make the readings available via Moodle after verifying that needed reproduction permissions are in place (contact the University Copyright Advisor if assistance is needed);
  • when none of the above is applicable, seek permission for your desired use from the copyright owner.

For assistance in pursuing any of the above options please contact the University Copyright Advisor.

Copying of works in Access Copyright's repertoire by University students and staff during the period January 1, 2011 to December 31, 2015 was covered by an Access Copyright blanket license. From January 1, 2016 forward, however, if you wish to re-use digital copies made under the blanket license that expired December 31, 2015, copyright owner permission must be obtained.

On July 12, 2012, the Supreme Court of Canada rendered an important affirmative decision that addressed "whether photocopies made by teachers to distribute to students as part of class instruction can qualify as fair dealing under the Copyright Act" (2012 SCC 37). The decision took into account the six fair dealing factors laid out in a previous Supreme Court of Canada decision (2004 SCC 13). For U of L instructors this means that copying short excerpts for distribution to students as class handouts may qualify as fair dealing if the copying, on balance, is fair according to the six factors. See the University of Lethbridge Guidelines for Copying under Fair Dealing. For assistance in assessing whether fair dealing applies to copies you wish to make, please contact the University Copyright Advisor.

1In Cinar Corporation v. Robinson (2013 SCC 73), the Supreme Court of Canada said the following about "a substantial part" (paras 26-28):

A substantial part of a work is a flexible notion. It is a matter of fact and degree. 'Whether a part is substantial must be decided by its quality rather than its quantity' [citation omitted]. What constitutes a substantial part is determined in relation to the originality of the work that warrants the protection of the Copyright Act. As a general proposition, a substantial part of a work is a part of the work that represents a substantial portion of the author's skill and judgment expressed therein.

A substantial part of a work is not limited to the words on the page or the brushstrokes on the canvas. The Act protects authors against both literal and non-literal copying, so long as the copied material forms a substantial part of the infringed work. . .

The need to strike an appropriate balance between giving protection to the skill and judgment exercised by authors in the expression of their ideas, on the one hand, and leaving ideas and elements from the public domain free for all to draw upon, on the other, forms the background against which the arguments of the parties must be considered.

Contact Us

University Copyright Advisor office
Phone: 403-332-4472

Rumi Graham
University Copyright Advisor
L1154, University Library

Nanda Stannard
Library Operations Specialist
L1156, University Library

Mechelle McCalla
Library Operations Specialist
L1146, University Library

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