Exceptions to the Copyright Act (overview)

This page provides an overview of the exception to the Copyright Act as they relate to providing educational instruction and materials:

For complete information about these topics, please review the university's Copying Guidelines, Fair Dealing Guidelines, and the Copyright Policy, which outline permitted use of copyrighted materials by University of Saskatchewan members.

Fair Dealing

The fair dealing exception, like other exceptions in the Copyright Act, is a user's right.  The Copyright Act provides that any "fair dealing" with a work for purposes of private study, research, criticism, review, education, parody, satire, or news reporting is not infringement.

Fair dealing allows users to make single copies of short excerpts of works for the eight reasons outlined above.  Copies made using the fair dealing exception is subject to both the U of S Guidelines for the Use of Materials Protected by Copyright and the Fair Dealing Guidelines.

Although the term “fair dealing” is not defined in the legislation, there is some guidance provided in the Copyright Act. Additionally there are six criteria to be used in determining whether a use is fair, as proposed in a landmark case in the Supreme Court of Canada, which dealt with fair dealing: CCH Canadian Limited v. Law Society of Upper CanadaThese six criteria are as follows:

a)     the purpose of the proposed copying, including whether it is for research, private study, criticism, review, news reporting, parody, satire, or education;

b)     the character of the proposed copying, including whether it involves single or multiple copies, and whether the copy is destroyed after it is used for its specific intended purpose;

c)      the amount of the dealing from the individual user’s perspective, including the proportion of the Work that is proposed to be copied and the importance of that excerpt in relation to the whole Work;

d)    alternatives to copying the Work, including whether there is a non-copyrighted equivalent available;

e)     the nature of the Work, including whether it is published or unpublished; and

f)      the effect of the copying on the Work, including whether the copy will compete with the commercial market of the original Work

If you have questions about fair dealing, copyright in general, or about the licenses that the U of S holds, please contact the Copyright Office.

Educational Exceptions

Faculty and instructors are permitted to make use of materials in ways that other users are not for the purpose of providing education and instruction on the premises of an educational institution.

Using materials in the classroom

Faculty members, teaching staff, and instructors are permitted to reproduce a work, or do any other necessary act, in order to display it for the purposes of education.  This would include, for example, scanning an image in a textbook for inclusion in a PowerPoint presentation. 

Instructors can play sound recordings for students on the premises of an educational institution, as long as the work is not an infringing copy. 

They may also play radio or television programs live when they are being broadcast.  It has been interpreted that this, arguably, includes webcasts.

In the classroom, educators and instructors are permitted to reproduce and communicate works available on the Internet (provided that the works are not protected by “digital locks,” there is no notice specifically prohibiting the intended activity, and the work has not been made available in violation of the copyright owner’s rights).

It is permissible to show a film or other cinematographic work (as long as it is a legal copy), as long as it is for educational or training purposes and as long as the work is not an infringing copy.

Instructors may copy news and news commentary from radio and television broadcasts for educational or personal use.

Distance Education

Lessons, including tests and exams, may be recorded and communicated to students enrolled in the course, provided that the recording or copy is destroyed within 30 days after the end of the course and the institution takes measures to limit the audience to only students and to protect the lesson itself.


There is a specific exception that addressed the need to reproduce copyright material for testing and examination purposes.  Therefore, material protected by copyright can be reproduced, translated, preformed, or broadcast on university premises for a test or exam.


Performances of works such as plays or music can be performed live by students without infringing copyright if the performance takes place on the premises of the school and the audience is primarily students of the school or instructors.

Exceptions for Libraries, Archives, and Museums

Non-profit libraries, archives and museums have exceptions under the Copyright Act, which other users do not These institutions may copy published and unpublished works protected by copyright in order to maintain and manage their collections. Examples are making a copy for insurance purposes, to preserve a rare, original work that is deteriorating., or to copy a work into an alternative format (if the original is obsolete or the technology required to use it is unavailable or becoming obsolete).  Note that these exceptions do not apply if an appropriate copy is commercially available.   

Libraries, archives and museums may copy an entire article of a scholarly, scientific or technical nature provided the copy is used for a fair dealing purpose. Articles in a newspaper or periodical which are not scholarly, scientific or technical can also be copied if the article is at least 12 months old at the time the copy is made, and provided the copy is used for private study or research purposes. These materials may be distributed digitally, provided that the institution takes measures to ensure that the patron prints only one copy, does not communicate the copy to another person, and the copy cannot be used for more than 5 business days after first using it.

Persons with Perceptual Disabilities

There are exceptions to copyright law for material required by students with perceptual disabilities.  This term refers to someone who has difficulty reading or hearing. Persons with a perceptual disability may copy a work protected by copyright in alternate formats such as braille, talking books or sign language. For more information and assistance with these resources, contact Disability Services for Students.


The Copyright Office is available to answer your questions and provide assistance with interpreting the law. However, note that a lawyer specializing in copyright law may need to be consulted in some cases.


Note: The information obtained from or through this site does not constitute legal advice, but is provided as guidelines for using works for educational purposes.

Creative Commons License
All information found on the University of Saskatchewan Copyright website is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.5 Canada License unless otherwise noted.