Frequently Asked Questions
The questions below provide you with general information about the Canadian Copyright Act and the Copyright at Queen's Policy. If you have questions about copyright related to your own publications and research done at the university (eg. your thesis), please see Copyright and your Thesis and/or the Intellectual Property Guidelines put together by the School of Graduate Studies.
- Copyright Basics
General copyright information, including what it covers, how long it lasts, how you get permission to use someone’s copyright material and how it works internationally.
- Copyright in the Campus Classroom
How you and your students can use other people’s copyright material in your presentations and in class.
- Copyright in the Digital Classroom
What you can and can’t post on your website and Queen's learning management systems (Moodle / Desire2Learn / MEdTech etc.) and how to avoid copyright hurdles in your online classroom.
- Copyright in the Library (Reserves, Interlibrary Loan & E-Resources)
What you should know about copyright if you want to photocopy something, place materials on reserves or get an article through Interlibrary Loan.
- Copyright and Course Packs
How copyright works when you’re putting together printed courseware.
- Copyright Contacts & Resources
Who’s available to help you with copyright issues at Queen's University and other useful resources.
- What are the laws and rules relating to using copyright at Queen's University?
- What does copyright cover?
- How do I know if something is protected by copyright?
- What rights does a copyright owner have?
- What is fair dealing and how does it relate to copyright?
- How long does copyright last?
- What is meant by ‘the public domain’? How do I know if something is public domain?
- How does copyright work internationally?
- I’m from the United States. How is copyright different here?
- How do I get permission to use someone else’s work?
- What are moral rights and what do they have to do with copyright?
- Who owns the copyright in the works I create at Queen's?
- Can I include other people’s images and materials in my PowerPoint presentations? What if I want to provide copies of the presentation to my students? Or post something on my website or online classroom?
- I’ve come across a book chapter that I want to give out to my students. Can I photocopy it and hand it out to them?
- Can I play music in class?
- Can I play videos in class?
- Can students include copyright materials in their assignments and presentations?
- I want to display someone ’s work for educational purposes. Isn’t there some sort of exemption for that?
- Are there any databases of copyright material that I can use for free without worrying about copyright?
- Is there any difference between posting something on my own website versus posting something on Queen's learning management systems (Moodle / Desire2Learn / MEdTech etc.)?
- May I upload a PDF of a journal article I obtained through the library’s ejournals to Queen's learning management systems (Moodle / Desire2Learn / MEdTech etc.) for my students to read?
- I gave a PowerPoint presentation in class which includes figures from a textbook. Can I post it on Queen's learning management systems (Moodle / Desire2Learn / MEdTech etc.)? I’ll be sure to cite where the figures came from.
- May I scan a print journal article or a book chapter into a PDF and post it on Queen's learning management systems (Moodle / Desire2Learn / MEdTech etc.)?
- Is it okay to use images or other material from the internet for educational purposes?
- Do I need to ask permission to link to a website?
- May I post examples of my students’ work on my Queen's learning management systems (Moodle / Desire2Learn / MEdTech etc.) course or on my personal website?
- Can the library help me create links to full-text resources that the Library has already paid for, such as e-journals and e-books?
- Can I just link to the electronic journal article myself ?
- What kind of material can I put on print reserve in the library?
- Can I get the library to send me electronic copies of articles using the interlibrary loan service?
- What are licences for electronic resources?
- Are there special rules for scanning?
- Do I need to obtain permission to use copyright material in my course packs?
- Do I need to obtain permission for other copyright jobs that are printed on campus?
- Who do I talk to at Queen's if I have a copyright question?
- Is there anyone available to help me obtain copyright permission?
- How can I get more information about copyright?
1. What are the laws and rules relating to copyright at Queen's University?
Use of copyright materials at Queen's University is covered by the Canadian Copyright Act and various agreements and licences entered into by the University with copyright owners and representative organizations. The Copyright Act is the legislation in Canada that sets out what you can and can’t do with other people’s copyright materials. In addition to this, the University has special agreements with copyright owners, such as subscriptions to electronic journals, which give you additional rights to certain content.
In order to determine whether what you want to do is permissible, you need to check that you comply with any agreements or licences covering the work in question and/or the Copyright Act. You should ask yourself:
- Is the work in question covered by an agreement or licences that the University library has with publishers or a public licence such as a Creative Commons licence? If so, is what I want to do permissible under those agreements or licences?
- If not, is what I want to do covered by the Copyright Act, either under the educational exceptions or under the fair dealing exemption?
If you’re not covered by any agreement or licence or the Act you’ll need to get permission for what you want to do from the copyright owner. The Copyright Advisory Office does provide a service for getting permission to use copyrighted materials in your class. See our Clearance and Permissions services website for more information.
2 What does copyright cover?
Copyright protects literary, artistic, dramatic and musical works, as well as sound recordings, performances and communication signals. This encompasses a wide range of things, ranging from books, articles, posters, manuals and graphs, to CDs, DVDs, software, databases and websites.
3. How do I know if something is protected by copyright?
Copyright protection arises automatically when any one of the above types of works is created and generally continues for 50 years after the author’s death, though this can depend on the type of work and where you want to use it (click here for more details). When you want to use a particular work in Canada, the safest approach is to assume that the work is protected by copyright, unless there’s a clear indication to the contrary or the author has been dead for at least 50 years.
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4. What rights does a copyright owner have?
Copyright gives the copyright owner a number of legal rights, such as the right to copy and translate a work. These rights are qualified by certain exceptions which balance the copyright owner’s interests with the public interest in allowing use of works for purposes such as education and research.
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5. What is fair dealing and how does it relate to copyright?
Fair dealing is an exemption in the Copyright Act which allows you to use other people’s copyright material for the purpose of research, private study, education, parody, satire, criticism, review or news reporting, provided that what you do with the work is ‘fair’. Whether something is ‘fair’ will depend on the circumstances. Courts will normally consider factors such as:
- the purpose of the dealing (Is copy being used for one of the purposes set out in the fair dealing exemption?)
- the amount of the dealing (How much was copied?)
- the character of the dealing (What was done with the work? Was it an isolated use or an ongoing, repetitive use? How widely was it distributed?)
- alternatives to the dealing (Was the work necessary for the end result? Could the purpose have been achieved without using the work?)
- the nature of the work (Is there a public interest in its dissemination? Was it previously unpublished?)
- the effect of the dealing on the original work (Does the use compete with the market of the original work?)
It is not necessary that your use meet every one of these factors in order to be fair and no one factor is determinative by itself. In assessing whether your use is fair, a court would look at the factors as a whole to determine if, on balance, your use is fair.
If, having taken into account these considerations, the use can be characterized as ‘fair’ and it was for the purpose of research, private study, criticism or review, then it will fall within the fair dealing exemption and will not require permission from the copyright owner. In addition, if your purpose is criticism or review, you must also mention the source and author of the work for it to be fair dealing.
The Queen's Fair Dealing Policy translates some of the high level principles of fair dealing into practical rules applicable to a university setting. Download this document to find out how you can apply this exception to your teaching.
6. How long does copyright last?
How long copyright lasts depends on which country you are in. In Canada, copyright generally lasts for the life of the author, plus 50 years. By contrast, in the U.S. and Europe, copyright generally lasts for the life of the author plus 70 years, though it can differ depending on factors such as the type of work, the manner of publication and the date of creation. Generally, use of a work in Canada is governed by the Canadian rules for the duration of copyright protection.
7. What is meant by ‘the public domain’? How do I know if something is public domain?
“Public domain” refers to works in which copyright has expired or where the copyright owner has made a clear declaration that they will not assert copyright in the work.
For example, although the copyright in Shakespeare’s plays expired long ago, many of the published editions of his plays contain added original materials (such as footnotes, prefaces etc.) which are copyright protected because the authors have used skill and judgment in creating the new material. This creates a new copyright in the added original material, but not in the underlying text of the original work in which the copyright had expired.
8. How does copyright work internationally?
Copyright is recognized internationally thanks to international conventions. So, generally, your copyright will be protected in other countries. In other countries, your copyright will be protected under that country’s laws so there may be some differences from the level of protection you would get in Canada. If you’re concerned about someone’s use of your work overseas, you will need to check the particular jurisdiction’s copyright laws to confirm whether they are infringing your copyright.
9. I’m from the States. How is copyright different here?
The copyright laws in the U.S. and Canada are different. For example, the U.S. has a provision known as ‘fair use’ which is different from the Canadian equivalent (‘fair dealing’). If you are from the U.S. or are collaborating with a U.S. researcher, you should keep in mind that the rules which apply to the copyright material you intend to use or create may differ depending on where you want to use them.
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10. How do I get permission to use someone else’s work?
You ask! The Copyright Advisory Office does provide a service for getting permission to use copyrighted materials in your class. See our Clearance and Permissions services website for more information. If you want to request permission for other reasons (such as to use materials in publications and theses), see our Copyright and your Thesis webpage.
11. What are moral rights and what do they have to do with copyright?
Moral rights are additional rights held by authors of literary, dramatic, musical and artistic works. They consist of rights that protect the integrity of a work and the reputation of its author. The right of attribution is the right to always be identified as the author of a work or to remain anonymous. The right of integrity is the right not to have a work modified or associated with goods or services in a way which is prejudicial to the author’s reputation. These rights are important for authors to ensure they get appropriate recognition for their work and for prohibiting any prejudicial changes to their works.
12. Who owns the copyright in the works I create at Queen's University?
In most cases, you own the copyright for the works you create at the university but there are a few exceptions. Please see the Ownership of Intellectual Property section of the Queen's School of Graduate Studies Intellectual Property Guidelines for more information.
PLEASE NOTE: This section only applies to uses of works in your physical classrooms – it does not apply to the online classroom or any internet use. Please refer to Copyright in the Digital Classroom if you have questions about this area.
We also have two sections in our Copyright and Teaching guide that relate to classroom use. See In the Classroom for information on how to use copyrighted material in class (presentation slides, videos, handouts) and Print Support Materials for material to be used to support the learning in your class (eg. coursepacks, print library resources).
13. Can I include other people’s images and materials in my PowerPoint presentations? What if I want to provide copies of the presentation to my students? Or post something on my website or online classroom?
Generally, you may include other people’s works in your classroom presentations without having to get permission or pay a fee provided there’s no commercial version available. Under the educational exemption in the Copyright Act, you may make copies of works to display in class on University premises for educational purposes provided there is no commercially available version of the work in a medium that is appropriate for the purpose.
However, the exemption only covers display in class on campus. It does not allow you to make copies and hand those copies out to students. It would also not cover uploading slides to the web or Queen's Learning Managment System sites like Moodle. Please refer to Copyright in the Digital Classroom section of this FAQ or the On The Internet page in our Copyright and Teaching Guide for more information.
Similarly, if you want to include works in a PowerPoint presentation outside of the University, for example, to a community forum, or post the presentation online or even in an online course, all of these fall outside the ‘display on campus’ requirement, so you may only do so if you fall within the fair dealing exemption or have permission from the copyright owner.
14. I’ve come across a book chapter that I want to give out to my students. Can I photocopy it and hand it out to them?
Yes. You can photocopy and hand ou copyrighted works as long as they fall within the guidelines listed in the Queen's Fair Dealing policy. If you want to hand out material that is in excess of these guidelines use the Copyright Advisory Office Clearance and Permissions service. If you want to provide multiple articles to students on a regular basis, for example, every year that you teach the course, and you know what articles you want to include in advance, you should consider creating a course pack.
15. 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 University premises, 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 may be required from a music copyright collective like SOCAN and Re:Sound. For more information on these licences, see General Information about SOCAN and Re:Sound Fees.
- the video is being shown for educational purposes, on Queen's campus, for an audience made up primarily of students.
- the video is not an infringing copy or you have no reasonable grounds to believe that it is an infringing copy.
- the video was legally obtained (from the library, a video store or a video rental store - not downloaded from the Pirate Bay or another illegal website).
17. Can students include copyright materials in their assignments and presentations?
Generally yes. The fair dealing exemption allows students to use works for research, private study, criticism or review. So provided the student is including the work for one of these purposes, and acknowledges the author and source of the material, and the use could be characterized as fair, bearing in mind the fair dealing factors outline above, it will likely be covered by the fair dealing exemption.
18. I want to display someone else’s work in my classroom during one of my lectures. Isn’t there some sort of exemption for that?
There are some exceptions in the Copyright Act for educational institutions which allow copying and display of materials for educational purposes. They cover displaying material in class on campus, reproducing material for exams, playing music and news or current events programs, and doing live performances of works. The fair dealing exemption will also cover some such uses.
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19. Are there any databases of copyright materials 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 limited conditions, such as non-commercial use only and acknowledgment of the author.
The Resources page in the Copyright and Teaching guide includes links to a variety of resources for finding Public Domain and/or Creative Commons licensed works.
20. Is there any difference between posting something on my own website versus posting something on Queen's Learning Management Systems (eg. Moodle/Desire2Learn/MEdTech etc.)?
Yes, there is a difference. Posting something on your own website means you are making the work available world-wide. Wide distribution makes relying on fair dealing more complicated and use like this is not generally covered by any University licences. By contrast, Queen's learning management systems are password protected, secure websites accessible only by students. In some cases, posting material on Queen's learning management systems will be covered by one of the University’s electronic subscriptions or by the Queen's Fair Dealing Policy. In other cases, you may need to obtain permission from the copyright owner. The key thing to remember is just because you have permission to post on a learning management system doesn’t mean you have permission to post it to your own personal website. See On the Internet for more information and to review best practices for posting materials to your website.
21. May I upload a PDF of a journal article I obtained through the library’s e-journals to Queen's learning management systems for my students to read?
The licences for some of the e-journals provided by the Library allow instructors to upload articles into secure learning management systems such as those available through Queen's (Moodle/Desire2Learn/Medtech etc.). While there may be good reason to upload articles into Queen's learning management systems, 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. If such changes are made after a copy has been uploaded they will not be reflected in that copy. 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, or you might want the Library and the Copyright Advisory Office to do this for you. As well as saving you time, the Copyright Advisory Office will ensure that authentication is taken care of so that your students don’t need to remember to log-in to the Library’s proxy server before going into Queen's learning management systems. They will also prepare a “persistent” URL. The publisher’s URL for many articles can change from day to day; a persistent URL will ensure that your students get to the right articles quickly and without frustration.
Contact your liaison librarian if you would like help with creating links to articles in the library catalogue.
- How to create permanent links to online articles
- Permanent link types for popular research databases
While uploading and linking to articles in Queen's learning management systems is sometimes permitted by the licences, it is important to remember that licences generally do not permit you to upload to a website, or create links on a website, that is not part of the University’s secure network, and that is open to the world at large. None of the licences that the Library has with publishers allows for uploading to, or linking from, websites that allow access without authentication.
22. I gave a PowerPoint presentation in class which includes figures from a textbook. Can I post it on Queen's learning management systems (Moodle/Desire2Learn/Medtech etc.)? I’ll be sure to cite where the figures came from.
In most cases, yes. In some cases, textbook publishers will allow you to include copies of figures in your PowerPoints and online classrooms, but usually only when the textbook is a required text for the course. You should check with the publisher first before posting the figures and comply with whatever conditions they attach to your use of the work.
If you don’t have permission from the publisher, you may still be able to include the figures if your use does not constitute a substantial part of a copyrighted work or if you satisfy the fair dealing exemption and your use, in terms of its scope, duration and distribution, is fair. At a minimum, you should abide by the following limitations:
- ALWAYS include a credit to the author and source of the figures (if no such credit is given, you cannot rely on the fair dealing exemption);
- Only include figures that are necessary for the purpose of the course and try to limit it to as few as possible;
- Limit access to the site to students enrolled in your course;
- Include a notice on the site which makes clear that you are providing the figures using the fair dealing exception in the Act;
- Take measures to protect the security of the site, such as passwords and encryption, so that other users cannot access the file;
- Remove the figures from the site as soon as the course/series of courses are finished.
If you want to post your presentation in a location that allows for perpetual access (eg. an open website), you should obtain permission from the copyright owner.
23. May I scan a print journal article or a book chapter into a PDF and post it on Queen's learning management systems (Moodle/Desire2Learn/MEdtech etc.)?
Yes, you can scan and post copyrighted works as long as they fall within the guidelines listed in the Queen's Fair Dealing policy. For materials that fall outside these guidelines, the Copyright Advisory Office is now offering a clearance service for both print handouts and for scanned copies of print materials.
Use this service! Posting scanned materials (eg. print book chapters) to Learning Management System sites in excess of the guidelines listed in the Fair Dealing policy without going through the Copyright Advisory Office may infringe copyright.
If you want to scan something and use it in your research or study, you may only do so if this is permitted under an exemption in the Copyright Act such as fair dealing. If what you want to do falls outside the exceptions in the Act, you will need to get to get permission through the Copyright Advisory Office.
24. Is it okay to use images or other material 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, you have to either fall within one of the Act’s exceptions (such as fair dealing) or have permission from the copyright owner. There is also a new exception in the act (Section 30.04) that will allow you to copy, play in class, or distribute to students, materials that you have found on the Internet, as long as:
- the material was posted legitimately (i.e. by the or with the consent of the Copyright owner).
- there is no clearly visible notice prohibiting educational use of the content.
- there is no technological protection measure preventing access to the material or preventing copying of the material (e.g. a presentation on a website like Prezi, a video on YouTube).
- you have acknowledged the author & website.
25. Do I need to ask permission to link to a website?
26. May I post examples of my students’ work on my Queen's learning management systems (Moodle / Desire2Learn / MEdTech etc.) course or on my personal website?
Only if you have the student’s permission. The Report of the Senate Ad Hoc Committee on Intellectual Property states that "the ownership of all types of intellectual property and for all members of the University should rest with the creators, unless other arrangements have been agreed to in advance for certain categories of employment, for certain types of funding, or by individual contract" (5). While the report does outline two possible exceptions to this rule (works for hire, works under contract by the university or by an outside sponser), copyright for the vast majority of student works would belong to the student.
You should always ask students in advance whether they consent to have their work posted online and keep written records of the permissions given.
27. Can the library help me link to full-text resources that the Library has already paid for, such as e-journals and e-books?
Yes. Contact your liaison librarian and/or the Copyright Advisory Office for help with creating links to full-text digital resources in the library catalogue.
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28. Can I just link to the electronic journal article myself?
Yes, you are free to create a direct link yourself, although you might want to consider reasons to have the Library do it for you. As well as saving you time, there are two advantages to having the Library create the link. The first is that Library staff will ensure that authentication is taken care of so that your students don’t need to remember to log-in to the Library’s proxy server before going into Queen's learning management systems. The second advantage is that Library staff will prepare a “persistent” URL. The publisher’s URL for many articles can change from day to day; a persistent URL will ensure that your students get to the right articles quickly and without frustration.
For instructions on how to create links, see the How to Create Permanent Links to Online Artices page on the library website.
You can put the following items on course reserve in the library without requesting permission from a copyright holder.
- Original works
- Personal materials of instructors, for which they own the copyright (e.g. assignment questions/solutions).
- Original print books, textbooks, DVDs, CDs, etc.
- Coursepacks can be added to course reserve as long as they meet the following criteria:
- The coursepack is purchased and provided by the instructor. The library does not purchase coursepacks.
- The coursepack is an original purchased directly from the Campus Bookstore or the AMS Publishing and Copy Centre. A photocopy of a coursepack cannot be placed on reserve.
- A sticker will be placed on the coursepack that states that photocopying is not permitted.
- Coursepacks can be added to course reserve as long as they meet the following criteria:
- Photocopies - Photocopies of articles can be put on reserve that meet the following criteria (as outlined in the Queen's Fair Dealing Policy):
- A requrest to put the short excerpt on library reserve is made by or on behalf of a faculty member and in respect of a specific course or program of instruction;
- The number of copies does not exceed the number of students enrolled in the course of instructions;
- the copy is used only for the purpose of library reserve by students enrolled in the university.
Visit the Library’s Course Reserves and Readings page for more information.
31. Can I get the library to send me electronic copies of articles using the interlibrary loan service?
The Library has articles electronically transmitted to it from other libraries, and the current practice is that the Library then makes the articles available to the requestor in print. The Ontario university libraries (OCUL) are now exploring the possibility of making the articles available through a web-service commonly referred to as Print-from-web.
32. What are licences for electronic resources?
The Queen's University Library contracts with a variety of vendors and publishers to provide users with thousands of electronic resources (databases, e-journals, e-books, etc.) costing millions of dollars per year.
In addition to paying for these resources, the Library negotiates licence agreements that stipulate how and by whom a given resource may be used. Users must be currently registered faculty, students, or staff. Only these individuals will be registered with the proxy server for off-campus access. Access for the general public is made available through terminals within the Library.
If licence terms are violated by anyone, licensors may temporarily suspend access for the entire university community. In cases where a resolution cannot be reached, the vendor may have the right to permanently revoke a licence and access to the resource.
You can help prevent such problems by adhering to good practices and avoiding improper use. Here are some rules of thumb.
Do's and don'ts
The Queen's library has a database that allows you to find out exactly what is permitted under the terms of the licensing agreements that we have with each database provider (see OUL Licensing Database).
Always acknowledge your source on any published or unpublished document when you use data found on electronic resources.
GREY AREAS: Some licence agreements make express allowances for electronic reserves, course packs, multiple copies for classroom use and interlibrary lending. Other licences may prohibit one or more of these activities.
If you have questions about a particular resource, please contact Mark Swartz at the Copyright Advisory Office.
For more information, see our Clearance and Permissions webpage.
34. Do I need to obtain permission to use copyright material in my course packs?
The Campus Bookstore and the AMS Publishing and Copy Centre are the two main providers of print coursepacks at Queen's University and will obtain permission for you.
Any materials that you would like to include in courseware are assessed by the Courseware staff for copyright clearance requirements. This includes materials from the internet, government publications, and unpublished works, not just books and journals. Providing details such as book/journal title, web address, author name, ISBN/ISSN number, page range and total number of pages in a book will help to confirm permission more quickly.
35. Do I need to obtain permission for other copyright jobs that are printed on campus?
If the copying that you want to do falls outside of fair dealing, you will have to obtain permission from the copyright holder.
- If you want to copy materials for handouts for your class, see the handouts section of our Copyright and Teaching guide.
- If you want to copy materials for other uses that do not fall under fair dealing, the Copyright Advisory Office can investigate getting clearance for you. For more information, see our Clearance and Permissions webpage.
Phone: 613-533-6000 ext. 78466
To contact your librarian, visit the Liaison Librarian Contact page.
The Copyright Advisory Office is now offering a clearance service for both print handouts and for scanned copies of print materials. This is a new service and is the best way for you to be able to use scanned copies of materials that fall outside the guidelines provided in the Queen's Fair Dealing Policy on Learning Management Sites like Moodle, Medtech or Desire2Learn!
Use this service! Posting scanned materials (eg. print book chapters) to Learning Management System sites without going through the Copyright Advisory Office may infringe copyright.
Some key Queen's University resources are:
- Copyright website
- Copyright and Teaching Guide
- Copyright at Queen's Policy
- School of Graduate Studies Intellectual Property Guidelines
For other resources and links related to Copyright at Queen's, see our policies, licenses and links page.
Last Updated: 05 March 2014